Editor: Surit Das Company: Freelance Number of years in editing: 18 years
Tell us a little about yourself, including how you got started as an editor?
I started as a salesman in 1993 in Kolkata, India. In 2002 I moved to Delhi, India, and chanced upon a copyediting position. At that time I didn't know what copyediting was.
What is your area of focus and why did you select this niche?
I edit articles for economics journals and economics and sociology researchers. I also write reports for non-profits. I didn't quite select these niches; a series of chance events led me here.
Walk us through a typical workday. How do you manage your time?
Since 2020 I have been trying to take on work that lets me work from noon to 3 p.m. and call it a day. It takes some doing. I've had some success, but I have a ways to go.
What is your favorite thing about being an editor?
Some of the material I have to read interests me quite a bit. For instance, recently I worked on an article that compared the corporate takeover regulations in the U.S. and India.
What is your biggest challenge and how do you work through this?
A copyeditor can't choose what they read; motivating myself to plow through texts takes effort.
What are you currently working on?
A history of the Sikhs in India (but outside Punjab); an article on the education of Rohingya refugee children in Bangladesh; another article on the recent violence at the West Bengal-Sikkim border in eastern India; and an issue of an agricultural economics journal (12 issues).
What advice do you have for someone who is just starting their career as an editor?
Before I began editing, I used to think that I could read and write and that, therefore, I could edit. I figured out quickly enough that I had been reading published material, not unpublished, which is an entirely different game. Also, I would be expected to read material that I had never read before, for a readership that I had to learn about. So the advice is to try and be conscious of the expectations of the audiences—whatever the material you're editing.
One measure I think about is impact: how many keystrokes you need to complete one sub-task. The lower the ratio, the better for all concerned (editor, manager, client). Learn to touch type, and learn to use the tools of your trade: keyboard and mouse, Microsoft Word, Windows (or equivalent).
Solve your customer's problem at a profit to your business.