What do you do Mr Editor?

I

 

Let me begin with a broad overview

Of what this species called ‘editors’ do?

They compile, assemble, anthologize and curate too.

 

A delicate and unique relationship they do maintain,

With the author, in times of pleasure or pain,

And sometimes, all the effort put may go in vain.

 

An editor plays the role of a mediator,

Between the publisher and the reader,

Managing to achieve the best from the two together.

 

After a writer submits the manuscript to a publisher,

Reading it thoroughly is the job of a copy-editor.

Making notes, jotting down vital mistakes in punctuation,

Standardizing the writing style and checking each citation.

 

Sectioning, paragraphing, division of chapters,

Follow suit with end notes, footnotes and those of the editor’s.

 

So, without mincing words and being blatant,

It is a fact that editors are very important.

II

Alan T. from the University of Chicago Press,

Took a master class on independent publishing in U.S.

He explained its functioning in details,

And the several challenges that it entails.

From budget pressures and other fiscal constraints,

To exploring publishing in digital domains.

How Amazon and Flipkart with their pricing policies,

Kept competition at bay, but made enemies.

He told us how he chose his list of books and authors,

And calculated discounts for retailers and distributors.

 

When the editing classes started with full force,

The Chicago Manual of Style became our Bible during the course.

Samik Sir, our Dean, enlightened us about the parts of a book better,

That consisted of the prelims, the text and the back matter.

It was followed by discussions on the Publisher’s Agreement and letter,

Negotiable in areas of royalty, advances and any legal factor.

 

Coming to the concepts and syntax of Punctuation,

We learnt using the marks of the single and double quotation.

The hyphen, en dash, em dash and its entire family,

Are not linked with Phrasal adjectives and Compound words only.

They are used in place of commas or colons, as separators,

And, while omitting expletives and tracing illegible matters.

 

Suspension points, indentation and ellipsis,

Led to the functions of the Slash, that conveyed alternatives.

Apostrophes, Question marks, Italics and the Period,

Help in re-shaping the manner of the written word.

 

III

 

After the theory classes, we had to actually ‘edit’,

Term papers by M.A. students, that sent us into a fit.

Armed with pens of different colours, now, we could not quit.

 

Thus, it was a ‘major turning point’

In our newly appointed job, albeit,

We were ‘very curious’ about these unknown faces

Who had written such ‘beautiful, yet ugly masterpieces’.

 

So, we replaced, removed, rephrased quite a bit,

And used proofreader’s marks to the maximum limit.

It was an enjoyable exercise, but tedious,

As each paper threw up mind-numbingly hilarious ideas.

 

At present, everyone’s head is still reeling,

And is overcome with an awkward feeling

Of whether we will get something really interesting

For cutting, splicing and editing,

In this course at a later date,

But, all we can do now, is to pray and wait.

 

Hoping our future is not bleak,

For I believe, if we try, we will seek,

The elusive elixir, exclusive to an editor,

That will be our trademark forever.

 

Shaurya Sircar

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