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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Editor Interview : Pallavi Narayan, Senior Editor, Penguin Random House India

An interview with Pallavi Narayan, Senior Editor at Penguin Random House gave us an engaging theory, which has everything that she expected of her writers. Her concept is to look for for engaging stories and great narratives, as well as for interesting subjects. So, read on as this editor gives us her thoughts...

What are you looking for in a book, when it first comes to you?

A book needs to catch and hold me as a reader. What I notice immediately is the writing itself and the way it deals with the subject.

There needs to be something that tugs at me – it can be the writing itself, or the author’s passion for the subject that comes across. Clarity is important.

What, according to you are the qualities of an ideal writer?

Great language and story-telling skills, and nuance in thought and writing

Could you explain your process, from writing to editing, and finally, printing and marketing? Is it very different from the traditional book printing?

We provide writers with feedback throughout the writing process, and help them out with suggestions on structure and storyline, as well on the style that would best suit the audience for their book. 

Once the text is finalized, we do a substantive edit and work with the author to enhance and tighten the narrative. Then we copyedit and proofread the manuscript. 

Simultaneously, our design team works on cover options. Our marketing and publicity team works on separate campaigns for different books, engaging in a range of activities from reviews to book launches to social media.

What is the one thing, you would you tell an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many tips as you would like)

Read as much as you can, write with passion, know your genre, do your research, be curious about people and places and keep your eyes and ears open.

Look up the guidelines for submission before submitting your manuscript to a publisher; these can vary from publisher to publisher but the general rule is to keep it clear and to the point. 

Publishers usually require a brief synopsis and a few chapters to decide if they would like to read the entire manuscript.

What do you think an editor can add to the writer’s work?

An editor’s job is to help the author say what he/she wants to in the best manner possible. An author may need help with developing ideas and concepts, structuring chapters, and with dealing with writing woes. 

Once the text is delivered, the editor does structural and line edits, sees how the manuscript has shaped up. Both confidante and critic, the editor is closest to the manuscript after the author.

What are you working on now?

I am working on several manuscripts at various stages, as well as thinking of book ideas and reading book proposals.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a book editor? 


What sorts of project(s) are most likely to get an okay from you?

I am looking for engaging stories and great narratives, as well as for interesting subjects. I don’t go with fixed ideas.

Could you tell us about some of your upcoming titles? 

We’re working on some romantic fiction, some parenting books, a couple of diet and fitness books, and some serious narrative non-fiction.

What are your top three favourite books?
Haruki Murakami

The Lollipop Shoes
What is your favourite thing about being an editor? And your least favourite thing?

My favourite thing is that I engage with topical, contemporary concerns and get to know writers as persons, several of whom have become friends. I don’t enjoy too much the administrative aspects that an editor also needs to look into.

What are the main skills, an editor would need to do their job well?

As an editor, it’s important to read both widely and deeply. It is also critical to look at both the big picture of the book as well as the finer details.

What is the most challenging aspect of your work?

Convincing our team that a book idea or manuscript I love is worth pursuing.

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