Indian Copyeditors Forum is a group for Indian editors and I have met editors from various fields during our offline and online meetups. You can catch the weekly zoom sessions here on various aspects of editing that are conducted by leading experts.
I connected with Shivani through ICF and am impressed with her repertoire and the cute kidlit she has authored.
I welcome Shivani to Eloquent Articulation and I hope you will enjoy this Q&A as much as we did.
Q1. What pulled you into the field of editing?
A1. Reading! Books! My parents read to me and sang to me and told me stories before I could toddle! I grew up with books and was encouraged to read. From that it was a short step to wanting to write, and a few more steps to wanting to write my own books. I enjoy languages, learned a few, did well in them, and entered the professional world as a freelance translator and an editor-translator for an e-newspaper. I married and chose to be a full-time mother—and for five years my reading consisted mainly of Dr Seuss and the like! After the younger of my two children started playschool, I started work as a freelance writer/editor, worked with a content agency—and published my first book! After my second book was published, I felt inspired to focus on book editing and soon zeroed in on fiction, particularly children’s fiction. I wrote a third book for children—all are described on my website—a fourth is out now, and I enjoy, really enjoy, editing—a meld of reading, writing, language, and, to an extent, teaching!
Q2. What levels of editing do you offer? What are your favourite genres to work with?
A2. I offer substantive editing, copy editing, and proofreading for fiction writers, and proofreading for non-fiction writers. I like editing most genres of fiction (but horror is a big No!) and especially children’s fiction.
Q3. Tell us about your typical workday?
A3. It’s a tough schedule in Covid times! Much of the morning is devoted to juggling vegetables and wielding pots and pans and scrubbers! Once everything is ready to keep the resident hungry mouths fed, I start my editing/writing work. With husband and children at home, there are frequent coffee and chitchat breaks!
Q4. Editors are usually voracious readers and booklovers. Are you a one or multi-book reader? What are you reading right now?
A4. I’m very much a one-book reader, preferring to stay engrossed in one world at a time. However, ever since I turned book editor, it’s been two books at a time—one book being the manuscript I’m editing! These days my bedside table plays host to an old favourite—Kamala Subramaniam’s Mahabharata—brushing up ahead of a new project!
Q5. How do you sustain interest in even the most mundane aspects of editing – proofreading, fact-checking, source-checking, etc?
A5. Ah, fact-checking is probably the most exciting part for me! Researching and unravelling a knotty point gives me great satisfaction. Often enough, while hunting for information I find something new and interesting—one just keeps learning! Editing is a fascinating job!
Q6. Share about your most confounding editing assignment to date. How did it affect you as an editor?
A6. When I receive an enquiry from a prospective client, I offer a free one-page sample edit—and some of the sample chapters I receive are quite confounding! I’ve puzzled my way through samples, rewriting them to make them clearer—and the budding authors seem to have loved the sample edits! That certainly encourages me as an editor! Interacting with aspiring authors can be very rewarding…explaining to them and helping them chisel and polish (yup, that’s my interest in teaching making its presence felt!). That’s why, even if I don’t wish to take on a project, I almost always send a free one-page sample edit in the hope that it may help the writer understand a different way of looking at what they’ve written—without diminishing their enthusiasm.
Q7. Please share one pro-tip for your writers?
A7. When you write fiction, you must become your characters. If there’s dialogue between a grumpy old man and a little girl, imagine you’re a grumpy old man when you write his lines and turn into a little girl when you write her lines. If you have a pompous detective interrogating a nervous suspect, become those characters, feel those characters, and their conversation will flow naturally and well. If you’re not sure it’s coming out right, the best way to check is to read the lines aloud in the characters’ voices. And if it’s children’s fiction and you have children around, read the passage aloud to them, and they’ll tell you!
Q8. Where can writers reach you for editing queries?
Thank you for joining me on the blog, I enjoyed our chat, Shivani.
My dear readers, Shivani is also the author of four books for kids, the covers illustrated by her daughter. Do check them out!
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