If you are looking for insights into editing nonfiction and academic editing then Anupam Choudhury is your man. I met him in New Delhi last year and further in our Indian Copyeditors Forum group. I am impressed with his knowledge, skills, and ability to solve and support others. Anupam is humble, hardworking with a sense of humour; an excellent combination for any editor.
All editors support writers and authors in their journey to publishing that elusive book but it is further complicated when a thesis or sciences are involved. The stories that an author writes are fine-tuned by an editor but finding the right editor can be a challenge for most writers.
I welcome Anupam to Eloquent Articulation to share his valuable tips and insights for writers, editors and readers. I am glad you decided to join me here.
Q1. What pulled you into the field of editing, Anupam?
Nothing pulled me into the field of editing—I got into editing out of love! No, not the love of editing, but the love of my girlfriend! (Who is now my wife.)
Here’s the story: In early 2008, I was a self-employed web designer and content writer. One day I found myself romantically entangled with a woman who, surprisingly, reciprocated my feelings! We decided to get married, but there was a catch—“self-employed” wouldn’t cut it with her parents. So, I decided to take up the first job that was offered to me. With that in mind, I applied for jobs left, right, and center!
One of the jobs that I had applied for was at SAGE Publications, which had advertised for production editors. The basic requirements were good English language proficiency and good general awareness, both of which I felt I possessed. I took their test, passed it, and the kind lady at SAGE decided to give me a chance, even though I wasn’t as young as the other candidates. That’s how, on 1st April 2008, I began my career—once again from scratch—as an editor.
Q2. What levels of editing do you offer? What are your favorite genres to work with?
I offer all levels of technical copyediting. I also offer developmental and structural editing services, as well as substantive editing. These terminologies are sometimes interchangeable, so I am open to customizing my services based on the needs of authors, publishers, and research organizations. I’m also adept at proofreading of typeset page proofs.
While I won’t call it my favorite genre, academic editing is what I’m trained at. I edit academic books and research articles in social sciences, humanities, and science/medicine. I’m proficient in CMoS, AMA, APA, Harvard, and MLA styles. I can also pick up custom/corporate style guides with ease. But I have to say that I quite enjoy editing trade nonfiction titles. Editing well-researched trade nonfiction not only enhances my knowledge, it also gives me a chance to shape a public narrative.
I would like to add for the benefit of the readers that I’m also a skilled content writer. I’ve written blogs, social media posts, eBooks, etc. for tech firms, digital agencies, and schools.
Q3. Tell us about your typical workday?
I’m an early riser. I’m up by 6.30 a.m., and after putting in some hours of reading books and articles, or writing blog/LinkedIn posts, while sipping ginger chai, I’m at my work desk by 9 a.m. sharp. I work till noon, when I break for a leisurely brunch with Netflix and a power nap. I’m back at my desk at 2 p.m. and usually work straight up till 6.30-7.00 p.m. Then I go out for my daily walk and wind down for the day.
On most days, I work on one or two major projects. I prioritize the ones whose milestones are closest. When I have more work than I can complete in a regular workday, I do “hyperdays”, when I battle it out from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., with the usual breaks. My wife has to “ask” me to stop! 🙂
Q4. Editors are usually voracious readers and booklovers. Are you a one or multi-book reader? What are you reading right now?
Not all editors are voracious readers or book lovers. But many get into the field of publishing because they love books and reading. I was always a voracious reader of books. But ever since I got into the editing function, my book reading suffered. I’m not sure why, but I feel it’s partly because I read so much throughout the day, and because the work is so all-consuming, that the urge to read books kind of evaporates. So, I keep feeling guilty that I don’t read as much as I should. But for the last few months, I’ve made it a point to read like doing an exercise. Thirty minutes to an hour of my mornings are dedicated to reading a book.
I recently finished an excellent book by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener titled The Upside of Your Dark Side. I would recommend it highly. Currently, I’m in the first few pages of the famous story of the eccentric knight, Don Quixote, written by the clever Señor Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. It’s a book that I’ve wanted to read forever! I’ve finally gotten around to it, and I’m finding it quite enjoyable, and in a way, like a journey back to another time.
I’m usually a multi-book reader, something that prevents me from finishing them! I’m trying to avoid that nowadays.
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Q5. How do you sustain interest in even the most mundane aspects of editing – proofreading, fact-checking, source-checking, etc.?
Here, I am lucky. I have a natural inclination for probing into tiny items of precision. As a kid, I used to love taking apart clocks and putting them back together. I loved the fine aspects of software coding, and I was quite good at it. My (somewhat) compulsive love for details makes the mundane aspects of editing a breeze for me. I would even go so far as to say that proofreading, fact-checking, source-checking, etc. work as ASMR (autonomous sensory meridian response) activities for me. The only time I hate them is when I feel that I’m getting paid less than the amount of work deserves!
Q6. Share about your most confounding editing assignment to date. How it affected you as an editor?
I honestly cannot pinpoint one assignment that left an indelible mark on me. I’ve worked on literally hundreds of projects. What impacted me more as an editor was the camaraderie and support of my trainers, my colleagues, and my authors. Here I would like to mention my collaboration with the corporate honcho and author, Rama Bijapurkar. She’s a tough, no-nonsense woman who knows exactly what she wants and has very high standards. After some senior editors failed to live up to her expectations, the management decided to push me forward, since I had a business education and was a no-nonsense editor myself. While the beginning wasn’t all smooth, eventually, Rama warmed up to me because I always had an answer or a counter-argument. We developed an amazing equation, so much so that when the book, Customer in the Boardroom, was launched, she preferred to get media pictures clicked with me rather than the “top guys” (I thought I’d lose my job!). I remember that project as a complex, ambitious, and deeply satisfying one. It helped boost my confidence as an editor.
Q7. Please share one pro-tip for your writers. What advice would you give writers trying to pitch stories to your publication?
Here’s one: never assume that you’ve written well. Always take a second opinion, or better still, a third and a fourth. Hire a beta reader if you can. Here’s another one: ask someone to read out your manuscript aloud to you. You can catch many kinds of errors this way, such as those in pacing, structure, voice, tone, perspective, and so on. A bonus tip: always get an intelligent editor to edit your manuscript. An editor is the difference between a good story and a good story that has an impact.
If you wish to pitch to publishers, remember that publishers are also businesspeople. They would want to know why you think your book will sell. Give them reasons from the literary as well as the market perspective. Pro tip: build your social media following. Publishers increasingly want authors to do a lot of the publicity for their book, and a large social media following—on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram—is highly desirable.
I’m not yet a publisher myself, but I’m hoping to begin soon. Authors who wish to publish with me can approach me at [email protected]
Q8. Where can writers reach you for editing queries?
Writers can reach me at [email protected].
I would invite the readers of this interview to connect with me at www.linkedin.com/in/anupamx
Thank you for joining me on the blog, Anupam. All the best for your projects ahead. Hope you achieve the dream of your publishing house soon.
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