Today for the editor interview series I am pleased to welcome an extremely dedicated, passionate and talented editor. The idea that copyeditors in India should have a tribe, a forum, and a group of fellow editors across the country and area of expertise was the brainchild of Mr. Vivek Kumar, founder Indian Copyeditors Forum.
I was fortunate to meet Vivek a few years ago soon after I had joined the ICF. I have benefitted immensely from his guidance and support and urge all professionals in the field of copyediting to be a part of ICF. It is the only cohesive and proactive pan-India establishment for editors in India. ICF members meet both online and offline across the nation. Vivek is instrumental in uniting editors across specializations, genres, and levels.
It’s an honour and a pleasure to welcome Vivek to Eloquent Articulation for this series on #WritingResources for authors and editors.
Welcome to the blog, Vivek.
Q1. What pulled you into the field of editing?
Ans 1. It is a long story. Since childhood, I was a voracious reader. I remember that the first thing I used to do after coming back from school was not to eat lunch but to read the newspaper and I used to get 5 newspapers on Sunday. Food always came later although I used to be hungry as I never took a tiffin to school and never had money to buy anything from the canteen. I believe that I always cared more for my brain’s need for information than for my stomach’s need for food. Although I was always a top-ten student in school, I never had a nose for engineering, which was the in thing those days. I tried to get into hotel management, business studies, and the army (notwithstanding my average height [cleared the NDA written exam thrice]) but had to settle for an evening course in journalism at YMCA Delhi after the electronic journalism course at Aurobindo Institute did not start for lack of candidates! This was the early 1990s. The first job I got was as a subeditor at Vision Books where I toiled for 3 years and 8 months for a princely sum of Rs 3000/- (started at 2200/- in December 1995). In August 1999, I joined Techbooks (now Aptara) as a copyeditor (started at 5000/-) and was lucky to have Dr Anantharaman Venkataraman (Dr Venkat) as my boss. It is here that I got to know what copyediting is, read books on copyediting, and even had the audacity to write to Karen Judd listing out what I thought were errors in her book Copyediting: A Practical Guide. She was gracious enough to respond and clarify the points I had written about and thanked me and Dr Venkat in the next edition of her book. We were lucky to always have enough time on hand for reading (read manuals and usage guides and even made notes), training (classroom training by Dr Venkat), and work (whatever little used to trickle in during the initial period of our career. Later on we reached a situation wherein we had to take work home on Sundays too.) So, you can say that my love for reading led me to becoming an editor.
Q2. What levels (subjects) of editing do you offer? Vivek, what are your favourite genres to work with?
Ans 2. I do not believe in levels. As my boss Dr Venkat used to say, if a sentence is wrong, set it right. I work on medical journals. No favourite genres as I have to edit whatever comes in!
Q3. How was the idea of the Indian Copyeditors Forum (ICF) born?
Ans 3. I started working as a freelancer in December 2010. The initial years were spent working on samples and acquiring clients and doing lots and lots of work. Make hay while the sun shines, you can say. In 2014, I joined a Facebook group by the name Editors of Earth (EoE). I came to know about the first international conference for editors being organized by Editors Association of Canada (now Editors Canada). I joined the volunteer team for the conference and also decided to attend the conference. I asked Dr Venkat to send in a proposal for a presentation. He did so and it was accepted and he was the only Asian speaker at the conference. My colleague Sunita Dogra also went for the conference, and I met Dr Venkat and Sunita in Toronto after quite a few years since leaving Aptara. Members from editing associations from various countries (the US, UK, Canada, South Africa, Australia, etc) were there at the conference representing their countries but from India we were there in individual capacity. Somehow, this situation did not make me happy and when I returned I decided to do something about it. I formed a Facebook group by the name Indian Copyeditors Forum (ICF) on June 28, 2015, as forming a group on Facebook was the easiest thing to do. We now have more than 2700 members.
Q4. Tell us about your typical workday, Vivek. How much of your day is set aside for ICF?
Ans 4. My day starts around 9 am and the first thing I do is check my e-mails. I try to devote the initial part of the day to language editing as it helps to do so when the mind is fresh. Post lunch session is devoted to doing markup (attending to the style part) of my articles. A few hours each day are set aside for ICF.
Q5. Editors are usually voracious readers and book lovers. Are you a one or multi-book reader? What are you reading right now?
Ans 5. I am a one-book reader. I have just finished Heights of Madness by Myra MacDonald.…………………………………………………….
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Q6. How do you sustain interest in even the most mundane aspects of editing—proofreading, fact-checking, source-checking, etc?
Ans 6. Fact-checking is a part of the job and one can always come across interesting things while doing a search on Google.
Q7. Share about your most confounding editing assignment to date. How has it affected you as an editor?
Ans 7. Well, my current involvement in developing a series of handbooks for editors has been both rewarding and frustrating. But I know that I am gaining valuable book publishing experience in the process and it will come in handy when I work on the next book in the series.
Q8. Please share one pro tip for other editors. OR What advice would you give to young aspiring editors?
Ans 8. Invest time and money in learning the necessary basic skills at the beginning of your career, and then keep on reskilling throughout your career. Do not ever miss an opportunity to meet other editors.
Q9. Where can editors reach you for editing queries? How can editors join ICF?
Ans 9. I can be contacted at [email protected]. Editors can join ICF by visiting https://www.facebook.com/groups/Indianeditors
It is always interesting and intellectually stimulating to talk with you, thank you for doing this interview Vivek. #EditorExplains is insightful for writers, authors, and editors. I wish you and ICF good luck for your future endeavors.
My dear readers, along with the resources that ICF offers, such as zoom sessions, YouTube Channel and WhatsApp groups, there is no query or doubt that goes unanswered. With the first book in the series ICF Handbooks for Editors slated for release in mid-2023, ICF will become a complete platform for editors.
If you are an ICF member, you can also schedule a one-to-one 30 minute evening session with Vivek for guidance and clarity in your work trajectory. Hope to see you at ICF.
If you are an editor and would like to be featured in this series, kindly DM.
(Interview with Vivek Kumar, proofread with minor changes before publishing.)
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Delighted. First meeting was small and focussed. Sunita Dogra is my Guru to meet her was so comforting. Surit and I think Vandana Kumari were there along with Vivek…thrill.
ICF is my bestest family…truly the wind in my sails. Hope more become involved as it can float your boat when clouds beset you.