PUBLISHING Those who love books and with some time to spare can opt for a part-time stint at publishing houses. DEEPA ONKAR
If you are the kind of person who enjoys books — and there are many ways in which you can — sitting glued to one, oblivious to the world and gorging from cover to cover; gently grazing at your own pace and chewing on the verbal fodder; or simply dipping into it when you can grab a moment, just for the feel of crisp pages and the faint aroma of print – a part-time job in the publishing industry, editing books may be just what you’re looking for. Or, you may just be passionate about your subject and want to pass on your enthusiasm for it by helping produce more books! Most publishing houses bring out books in a range of subjects — Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Medicine, Humanities, Social Sciences, Business Management, IT, and School Textbooks. A thorough understanding of the subject — the facts and concepts, is necessary to edit any book.
Understanding the author
A sound, even excellent grasp of the English language is the most important prerequisite for those wanting to edit books in the humanities. This is because editorial work involves having to understand and re-construct what has perhaps not been expressed in the best possible way, and re-stated clearly. Editing a piece of writing involves the ability to spot assumptions made by the writer about the subject matter, and about the reader’s understanding. When the assumptions have been unravelled, perhaps more has to be added to the text, perhaps something has to be cut out, or the grammar, spelling and punctuation corrected. An ability to communicate with the author and bring up queries in order to clarify ideas is also a necessity.
Editing manuscripts in the humanities (social sciences and literature), involves an engagement with history, politics, philosophy and literature. The perceptions of the writer are then just not ideas in the abstract, but those you may or may not agree with. Sensitivity towards local cultures, as well as being well informed about global political and historical trends, would make the edited piece of work more accurate. As many publishing houses publish translated works, knowledge of an Indian language and its literature often goes a long way in editing these works. A branch of literary editing is English Language Teaching. An excellent understanding of the English language and its structure and grammar is very important to approach these texts. A background in teaching English is, of course, an advantage. Editing school texts books in any subject also requires an appreciation of a child’s processes of understanding concepts.
Dealing with subjects
Publishing houses often deal with a range of books — in the sciences, engineering, mathematics, medicine and so on. Editing a medical text does not involve advanced knowledge of biology or medicine, though this would be an advantage. A knowledge of root words, the Latin words involved in the name of a disease, often used in everyday language, is a major part of comprehending medical texts. In the sciences and engineering, however, a thorough grasp of the subject is necessary. An emerging field of publishing is that of Children’s literature. There are a number of publishing houses which are exclusively devoted to publishing print and audio books for children. An intern here would be interested in material that is relevant to young minds, and in presenting it in ways that stimulate a child’s social, moral and verbal imaginations. Since children’s books contain a lot of visuals, a vivid visual imagination, an interest in design and an ability to work with illustrators go a long way.
You can approach a number of publishing houses to enquire about part-time, freelance or internship possibilities. Some of them are: Oxford University Press, Orient BlackSwan, BI Publishing, Katha, Karadi Tales and Tulika. For more details look into their websites.
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