Years editing: 30+
Job title: Freelance copyeditor and academic trainer
Job description: Helps scientists and academics write, publish, and present
Location: Pune, Maharashtra, India
What copyediting training have you had?
I participated in a 14-week intensive course in editing and publication led by Ian Montagnes, the then editor in chief of University of Toronto Press. This was in 1987; subsequently, I learned on the job.
What positions have you held?
I’ve been a scientist with the Indian Council of Agricultural Research; a fellow at The Energy and Resources Institute, New Delhi; a senior editor at International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, Hyderabad; and a senior fellow at World Institute of Sustainable Energy, Pune.
My editing career started with a book, Changing Concepts of Reference Service. It sparked my interest in information science and documentation. However, I had no formal qualifications to work in that field. When I sent my CV to Tata Energy Research Institute (TERI), expressing my interest, Dr. R. K. Pachauri, who headed TERI and interviewed me, suggested that I consider editing as a career. When I managed to acquire some formal qualifications in editing, I took him up on that offer.
DOING THE JOB
Are there any complementary skills that are important in your job?
In this field, editors should have familiarity with word processing and page layout software packages, some knowledge of printing and publishing, and an appreciation of research methods and academic publishing.
Do you use any editing tools to get the job done (e.g., PerfectIt, Adobe stamps)?
I use PerfectIt.
COMMUNICATING WITH OTHERS
Do you participate in a community (or communities) that supports editors?
I am part of the Indian Copyeditors Forum (ICF). The main benefit of ICF is the opportunity to meet fellow copyeditors (valuable, because copyediting is such a solitary occupation). The forum has a dynamic and active coordinator, Vivek Kumar, who organizes many useful webinars on topics related to copyediting, and members get to present some of those. In recent months, we had a webinar on PerfectIt and on Board of Editors in the Life Sciences certification.
Do you have any thoughts on the need for editors to network and talk about what they do?
Copyediting is mostly a solitary occupation, which is why copyeditors need to be in touch not only with fellow copyeditors but also with authors. In particular, copyeditors need to convince authors that copyediting can add value to their work.
When authors see a well-edited file (with track changes), they need no other convincing. But to convince them to entrust their manuscript to a copyeditor in the first place, we must point out to authors that a well-edited manuscript is less likely to be “desk rejected” (rejected without peer review) and that with a well-edited manuscript, both journal editors and peer reviewers will focus more on the substance of the manuscript, because they are no longer distracted by errors that a copyeditor would have fixed.
How might we get buy-in during the editing process from authors who may not be receptive to changes?
Refer to style manuals and journals’ instructions to authors. Point to good examples published in books or journals the authors are likely to have read. You could also explain the logic behind the changes.
Have you faced any hurdles in getting into/advancing in the copyediting profession because you are a person of color? Or have you observed such barriers for others?
Not so far. In fact, the European Association of Science Editors (EASE) has always been of great help and even made me a member of its council. When I switched from being a researcher to being an editor, I wanted to be better at my job. This desire prompted me to become a member of EASE. That was more than 30 years ago, and I have benefited a great deal from the good advice of its members — from the articles in European Science Editing and several EASE conferences.
What lessons would you have liked to learn at the beginning of your career?
I wish I had been aware of the importance of keeping accurate records (e.g., number of manuscripts edited, word counts, number of articles and blog posts written). Although the best way to assess copyeditors’ proficiency is to examine documents they have copyedited, that takes too long. As a proxy, these numbers offer some objective evidence of your experience and competency.
Any suggestions on what offices/employers could do to increase diversity in your field of editing?
Employers should judge on the basis of the candidate’s or employee’s work.
Tell us about a project that you’re proud of.
Dr. R. K. Pachauri: The Visionary Institution Builder, a commemorative volume on my former boss. I’m proud of it first because I was the one who suggested that we publish it. The suggestion was readily accepted, and scores of authors readily contributed to it. Second, although I had volunteered to copyedit and design the volume, the two editors insisted that my name appear before their names as editors of the volume. Third, the volume was appreciated by many, the most important among them being Dr. Pachauri’s wife and son — they called it a beautiful gift. Last, this publication offered me the opportunity to pay tribute to the man who was the most important influence on my editing career. (My contribution to the volume starts on page 64.)
Any hobbies you’d like to share with us?
I like to garden and play Scrabble.
What resources would you share with fellow editors?
I’d share the training programs I have conducted for fellow copyeditors.
– On bulleted lists
– On house styles and style manuals
– On page layout and refined typography with Microsoft Word
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know about you or about diversity in the profession?
I think we need to work much harder simply to stay in place!
Are you an editor of color who would like to be featured on Outside-the-Book.com?