Editor: Sohini Ghose Company: Freelance (www.sohinighose.com) # of years in editing: 10 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
As a child, I would always say that when I grow up, I want to live in a library! Being an editor was the closest I could get to that dream. Editing happened to me by chance, though. I was born and brought up in India. Right after my Master's in English Literature, at a time when I was still unclear about my career path, a friend noticed an ad for an Assistant Editor position at Cambridge University Press, India, and encouraged me to apply. I applied on a whim and got the position, and now it has translated to a very fulfilling career in publishing.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
After my stint at Cambridge University Press, when I started working at Seagull Books, I got the opportunity to be one of the proofreaders on the 2012 Nobel laureate Mo Yan's book Pow! At Seagull, I mostly edited literary fiction and philosophical non-fiction and completely fell in love with these two genres. Today, although I edit a lot of memoirs and self-help books, I still enjoy editing fiction the most.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
My days vary from one to the next, and I think that is what keeps me on my toes. A typical workday (which for me is usually six days a week) begins with a cup of tea and answering mails. After this, I look at which projects are on top of my To-Do list and jump right in. I often also juggle two manuscripts at the same time, so I divide up my day accordingly.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
For me editing does not feel like a career but a way of life. (Probably why I choose to do it for six days a week!) Although there are many, my absolute favorite thing about being an editor is aiding someone's creative process and helping them bring their words to life.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
As a freelancer, a lot of time needs to be spent on administrative and marketing tasks. Earlier, as an in-house editor, these were not aspects I had to deal with, so as a freelancer it has been quite a learning curve, and one I still find challenging on some days. It really helps to be in touch with other editors, learn from their experiences, and through attending webinars and workshops.
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on three different manuscripts. One is a self-help book, one is a travel memoir, and the third is a biography of a famous singer. I am also a contract proofreader for Macmillan Learning, so my mornings now are spent working on custom-made college and university textbooks.
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Editing is not a mechanical job. It is extremely creative and, hence, requires a mix of skill and instinct. Adaptability is key for an editor. Every text, every book, every author has a different demand and often requires a different approach.
When I taught editing at the Seagull School of Publishing, I would often remind my students that an editor must always remain behind the scenes. Our job as editors is to help the author express their thoughts and their voice. We are only the medium.
Be kind to yourself. It is not possible to know every grammar rule or memorize every style guide. Just be open to learning and looking things up and this can help you hone your craft daily.