Writers Always ‘Wrong’
Editor For Ever Correct
The famous writer of The Street of Ink (remember books? Once upon a time they were printed on paper to be read, not sent as pdf versioñs by email to delete) Kundurti Ishwar Dutt told me once, “Any fool can write; it takes a heaven-born genius to edit.”
Having been an editor who had KID jr (his brother’s son, named after the celebrity uncle) as his trainee, I took the liberty of editing the remark to say “all writers are fools. All Editors are heaven-born geniuses.” I say this because to write a book these days when no one reads books is absolutely foolish. Even without books there will always be editors because newspaper owner sethjis need someone to go to jail if something wrong gets printed. So the mandatory ‘printline’ in newspapers puts up a name as “legally accountable for the selection of news and articles in _____ business area”.
The implication is that the paper and the distribution of that edition in its area are nothing more than a business…. a way of looking at the editor’s ‘work’ of keeping luggage all ready to go to jail. So being ready for and and with jail life in the primary qualification; even writing and command on language are secondary .
This attitude was so different to that of the late M Chalapati Rau whose writing was rewritten by a (sub)editor unaware of his fame as the best writer of English in Indian journalism. Rau, editor of National Herald daily of Nehru insisted on fhe sub’s “copy” being published as an unwritten law of news editing is that “the sub-editor’s decission is final
“Notional’ Herald is Khàngress party mouthpiss and ñow has an – ‘idiot’er in his place.. She thinks General Rawat’s helicopter crash was ‘divine retribution.’
In book publishing too the rule is the same if the publisher ís paying (a pittance) to the author and the editor i.e. buying writer”s book as scrap to make money. If other Websites don’t pay carry all mistakes and blame all changes on Google. If you write S Ramanujam (the great math wizard the editor would Google and say Lakshman as ‘anuj’ (brother) of Ram is Lakshman. A principle of editing is that every quote should be sourced. So an editor adds: source -someone in some book. A great discovery for which he is paid as much as the nutritional expert peeking into ward gate to say “oh you like Idli. Have it again”. Rs 800 for 1 second! That is editing; he is supreme. If autocorrect turns Idli into Italy you better eat Italy. That is wheñ you pay.
What is sacrosanct and final becomes a mere suggestion and optional whet YOU pay for it as a self-published book.
It better be, the agency tells you, Who else will publish a book that is a gem when YOU pay for the printing but turns into trash when the publisher pays you?