Growing up, Olayinka Lawal absolutely loved reading. She would often choose reading over making new friends. In short, she was naturally drawn to the world of books. Her favorite classes were English and History and these developed her keen interest in historical narratives and writing. In her sophomore year, Olayinka embarked on a writing and editing venture as Editor-in-Chief of Idunnu Studios – a multicultural children’s content creator that celebrates diversity and girl power founded by Oladoyin Oladapo. To Olayinka, editing is about strategic conversations, consistency in tone, language, character, and authenticity. In this article, she discusses everything you need to know about being an editor.
What is your process when editing?
I usually edit in context. Well before the writers begin writing, I have strategic conversations with the founder to understand what we want our next set of books to demonstrate. These conversations guide my thoughts on the characters, their personalities, their talents, and the cultures we want to learn from them. Therefore, when the writers begin writing, we both have an expectation of what the books should be. Sometimes you find the characters are more colorful in either of our minds before it gets to the reading table. So then, we are either discovering a character or affirming their identity. If the character is not convincing enough, I engage the writer in readjusting the writing to communicate better. Therefore, my editing process goes well beyond grammar and punctuation.
What do you look for when you are copy editing a story?
Quality!Authenticity, quality in the tone of its writing, and quality of grammar and punctuation use need to be factored into every story. Each of these is equally important for our target readers to take away from the story.
Showcasing the story’s authenticity in an honest way is important for readers so that they do not leave with any misconceptions of the culture. As a result, how the story is written is very powerful and really guides me on what to look for in a piece of writing. As for choosing a topic, it often depends on the strategic vision of the company. We all have an array of groups we want to reach and we have to think about how and when to engage them.
How do you measure the success of a content/story?
In the editing process, the success of a story depends on how well it reflects a particular culture without coming off as either over-bearing or inauthentic. Post-publishing success really depends on how well the characters and stories are received. People tend to get excited about a particular culture because they can relate in one way or another. Ultimately though, the joy we see people have with the various characters and their support of the books through sales is the measure of success. So far, we have launched A (How to Arrange Your Azonto- Ghana), B (How to Beat the Bongos- Cuba), C (How to Crunch on a Cannoli- Italy), and D (How to Don a Dashiki- West Africa) and we will continue releasing two new letters every month. The response has been overwhelmingly positive thus far. I think when you write good quality content for an underrepresented community, the results will speak for themselves because this is not just something our community wants, it is something we need.
What are the developmental concepts behind the AZ collection?
After we launched our first collection, Girl to the World, we wanted to create a collection that would highlight as many cultures as possible. With “A, Z, and Things in Between”, we were able to create a 26-storybook collection that celebrates 26 cultural phenomena in 26 different parts of the world. The A-Z Collection is special because it quite literally teaches the reader how to do something from that culture. Our first book, How to Arrange Your Azonto, is a fun tutorial on the dance, but in showcasing the dance, we also showcase other elements of Ghanaian culture.
Read the full article here: https://sheleadsafrica.org/olayinka-lawal-editing-experience-goes-well-beyond-grammar-punctuation/