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The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) Paperback

ISBN-13: 978-0226734255 ISBN-10: 0226734250

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The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago (or, How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself) (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing) + The Copyeditor's Handbook: A Guide for Book Publishing and Corporate Communications + The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th Edition
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Product Details

  • Series: Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing
  • Paperback: 148 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press (March 16, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226734250
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226734255
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,973 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Longtime editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Online's deft, humorous Q&A page, Saller writes with wisdom and a great generosity of spirit in this singular survival guide to the copy editor's trade. Addressing issues essential to these professional perfectionists, who can easily develop compulsive or inflexible practices, Saller's improbably fun text also makes a cagey introduction to the field. Framing each chapter with a choice Q&A from her column (Q: "Is it ever proper to put a question mark and an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence in formal writing?"), Saller offers thorough advice on common obstacles, like an adversarial writer-editor relationship, or a seemingly endless task. Tried, somewhat obvious solutions-cultivating positive work habits, examining your motives, organizing your priorities-are thoughtfully re-established for overworked, under-appreciated editors. Practical considerations include the minefield of e-mail etiquette, understanding version control, maintaining transparency and the indispensability of back-up copies. With entire chapters devoted to the freelancer and the writer, and an extensive guide for further reading, this is an ideal complement to any style guide: practical, relentlessly supportive and full of ed-head laughs (A: "Only in the the event that the author was being physically assaulted while writing").

From Booklist

The editor of the Chicago Manual of Style’s monthly Q&A offers a wonderfully concise yet nuanced guide for the working (or would-be-working) copy editor. Starting with her dictum, “Do no harm,” Saller explains the modern-day role of the copy editor, good habits to cultivate, how to develop a solid working relationship with an author, handling deadlines, and many other specifics of the profession. She wears her experience well, urging flexibility, transparency, and tact—along with, obviously, consistency and reason—in working with authors and their copy. And, wisely, she’s included a useful chapter for writers who might pick up the book. Less “subversive” than sensible, the advice here, which leans toward book-manuscript editing, is a good companion to the more austere CMOS, but it can work well with other style guides. And a nice bonus: since the book is also produced by the University of Chicago Press, it’s a fine example of the CMOS in action throughout the publishing process. --Alan Moores --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Carol Fisher Saller, author of THE SUBVERSIVE COPY EDITOR, is a senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press and an editor of the CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE. Visit THE SUBVERSIVE COPY EDITOR blog at http://www.subversivecopyeditor.com/blog. Her essays on writing, editing, and publishing appear at the LINGUA FRANCA blog at the CHRONICLE OF HIGHER EDUCATION.

Carol is also the author of a middle-grade/young adult children's novel, EDDIE'S WAR (a KIRKUS REVIEW Best Book of 2011 and a 2012 Bank Street Best Children's Book of the Year). Visit the EDDIE'S WAR website at http://www.carolsaller.com/.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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When I stumbled across this book, I just had to read it.
Sharon K. Farber Ph.D.
I really enjoyed reading this book as an editor AND as a writer.
Laurie Penner
Practical, good humored, well written, and nicely proofed.
Christian Schlect

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 64 people found the following review helpful By C. J. Singh on June 2, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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Reviewed by C.J.Singh

While teaching courses in editing at UC Berkeley extension, I always assigned The Chicago Manual of Style and Richard Lanham's Revising Prose (5th Edition) for the introductory course. For the advanced course, we studied Joseph Williams's Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (ninth edition) . As noted in my detailed reviews of the two latter books, most students found them excellent. I'm sure they'd be just as enthusiastic about "The Subversive Editor" by Carol Fisher Saller. In fact, I'd place this book near the top of the reading list for anyone interested in learning how to edit. Saller, a senior mansucript editor at the University of Chicago Press, also edits "The Chicago Manual of Style Online's Q&A." Written with charming wit, her brief book presents numerous tips. For several samples from the book, please read on.

Introducing her book, Saller writes: "Although people outside the Press address us `Dear style goddesses' and assume we are experts on everything in the `Manual,' most of the time I feel more like the pathetic little person behind the curtain in `The Wizard of Oz.' It's only because I'm surrounded and protected by knowledgeable and generous coworkers that I can assemble the authoritative front that appears in the Q&A" (p. xi).

From the Q&A: "Q/ Oh, English-language gurus, is it ever proper to put a question mark and an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence in formal writing?" (p. 31).
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By L. F. Chapman on April 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
I'm a manuscript editor at a university press and I can't say enough good things about this book. I've long enjoyed Ms. Saller's clever answers in the Q&A section on the Chicago Manual of Style website, so I was predisposed to think well of her, but this book just cemented my respect and admiration. Her advice to editors (and to writers) ranges, for me, from the "I can't believe I never thought of that" variety to the "I have thought of that, but could never have said it so well" variety. This book should be required reading for anybody who is in the business of transforming unpolished words in a manuscript into type on a page.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Patricia E. Boyd on November 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Editors break rules. How liberating! Carol Fisher Saller's "Subversive Copy Editor" confirms what I learned as a scientist: The more you know about a subject, the less dogmatic your opinions. Rules can be broken; editors do make stupid mistakes. Saller brings great common sense and, yes, sharp business acumen to her profession. The book reminds you that if an author--consistently--has styled his 985 references in a totally nonstandard, but logical style, what's the point in undoing all the painstaking work? Having enjoyed this "Chicago Manual of Style" editor's online Q&A page for years, I loved reading more about the crazy questions she gets about editing (and sometimes other topics, like fashion, when someone mistook "The Chicago Manual of Style" for a fashion advice book) and the clearheaded, sometimes funny answer she gives. But beyond her approach to editing and her invaluable hints on how to stay organized as an editor, the book includes invaluable lessons in modern business etiquette: ways to work with difficult co-workers and authors, the importance of answering e-mail promptly, even if you don't know the answer; how to defer a decision; the importance of keeping the big picture (in this field, the big picture is the reader and book sales); rules of etiquette not only in your own e-mails but especially with how you handle others' messages; and so on. The book can be read from front to back, almost like a novel (well, I am an editor, so perhaps I found it especially compelling), and Saller's self-deprecatory humor had me laughing out loud. Editors, writers, students, and businesspeople who handle any sort of communications will enjoy this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By thepaxdomini on September 16, 2011
Format: Paperback
The Subversive Copy Editor: Advice from Chicago is a 2009 book on editing by Carol Fisher Saller, a senior manuscript editor at the University of Chicago Press. The book's subtitle is "How to Negotiate Good Relationships with Your Writers, Your Colleagues, and Yourself," and this is Saller's primary focus.

The Subversive Copy Editor is divided into two sections: one on dealing with the writer and working on behalf of the reader, and the other on working with colleagues. Saller's advice, generally, is to take a common-sense and courteous approach to dealing with anyone and everyone. Her insight into the dynamics of the copy editor's working relationships is probably the most valuable part of the book.

Much of the book seems geared toward new editors, and there's a lot of basic, getting-started information here. On the whole, though, it isn't very subversive - unless remaining calm and not killing yourself stressing out over minutiae is subversive.

Saller's writing style is light and clever, and it makes this book generally enjoyable to read. Saller is also quick to discuss her own mistakes, which certainly helps the reader relate. Even if much of what she has to say isn't profound, it's nice to hear it from somebody who's experienced and credible.

This is quite a short book, but the pace feels a little too leisurely at times, particularly as Saller seems to try to hit a number of disparate targets. Not everything in the book is for every copy editor, and few if any editors will find every chapter relevant or helpful. That said, though, most any editor can get something out of this book.

There's nothing particularly groundbreaking here, but if you're looking for an easy, common-sense book on copy editing, The Subversive Copy Editor is a winner.
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