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) Kindle Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226734255
ISBN-10: 0226734250
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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

Product Details

  • File Size: 1053 KB
  • Print Length: 148 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (August 1, 2009)
  • Publication Date: August 1, 2009
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002GHBTAK
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,887 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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" (Question&Answer). 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).
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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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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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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Even if you're not a copyeditor, this book is useful if you ever find yourself in the position to need to edit someone's work. In some places it's probably a bit too granular, but overall, it offers some great advice for what to focus on, which battles are worth fighting and ways of working with people that won't drive them, or you, crazy.

My beef is that this particular Kindle edition needs a copy edit. There were lots of errors such as words and sentences running together.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for one of my college textbook production editors. At his annual review it became clear that he had some editing issues. I asked some colleagues and they recommended this book. He was reading it and following what it said for about six months. He was making progress towards meeting his review goals. And then he quit. He took the book with him I noticed so he must have been getting something out of it for himself.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was the required textbook for the first course in my Editing program. And it's a really good book, with lots of great information about copyediting practices, particularly the interpersonal ones. Editors are a supportive, helpful bunch who share a "we're here to help" ethos. The more I learn about editors and editing, the more I understand how widely misunderstood the profession and its practitioners are. This book is both entertaining narrative and source of practical information and strategy for negotiating the editing workplace, whether freelance or in-house.

Word of caution: the Kindle version has some glitchiness with word spacing (oh the irony), so if that really bothers you, get the print version.
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