Not Just Spelling and Grammar Check

After completing my graduation, the most common question that I have been asked by my relatives is ‘What are you planning to do now?’ To which, when I say that I am preparing to be a book editor, the responses are sometimes hilarious, but most of the times borderline offensive. Here are a few examples:

  1. So, basically, you want to end up as an author, right?
  2. What does a book editor have to do? The author will write and the printer will print. What is left for the editor to do?
  3. Why do you want to be an editor at all? Nowadays, with auto-correct and spelling/grammar check, the job of an editor is nearly obsolete. Why enter a field that will cease to exist in a few years?
  4. Why do you want to waste your time with a course? Have you not read and written in English since the time that you actually learnt to read and write at all? What is there to learn now?

To all those people, I can only say that the answer to all your questions lie in the very first week of the Seagull editing course. All the myths surrounding the job of an editor and the confusion in people’s minds regarding the idea if book editing can even be referred to as a ‘real profession’, can easily be cleared if they listened to what Sunandini ma’am had to say about the various responsibilities of an editor. It is certainly no cakewalk! From the moment a manuscript is selected to the time the book is published, it is the responsibility of the editor to see it through. It is almost like an editor’s baby. To care for it, nurture it, see it mature, and groom it to be the best version of itself that it can possibly become, at the same time, to keep in mind that it is someone else’s work and learn to let go when the time comes.

From the different parts of a book (and there is an entire book just to tell us about the various parts of a book including the ‘widow’ and the ‘orphan’ and more such curious terms!) to the ideal arrangement of the pages that go within, there are things in a book that, as readers, we hardly pay attention to and seldom realize the amount of thought that went into it. All of these were discussed in great detail and I realize that it is not just an art but a science.

After a week here, it has become obvious to me that nothing else could have given me the kind of knowledge that I am going to take away with me from this course. It really is an all-you-need-to-know-about-book-editing package, wrapped neatly and bow-tied for our convenience.

I feel equipped now to answer the very many questions that my relatives will continue to throw at me. I don’t think that a better platform exists to start off one’s career in the field of book editing!

Nekita Chowdhury


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