- 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: 5 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 48 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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)
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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").
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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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).
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). "A/ In formal writing, we allow a question mark and an exclamation only in the event that the author was being physically assaulted while writing. Otherwise, no" (p. 43).
On serial commas: "A/ Well, if you don't allow the serial comma at all, you will be stuck with situations like the following hypothetical dedication page that our managing editor likes to cite: 'With gratitude to my parents, Mother Teresa and the pope'" (p. 70).
Know Thy Word Processor: "Q/ Is there an accepted practice for use of emoticons that include an opening or closing parenthesis as the final token within a set of parentheses?" (p. 71). "A/ Until academic standards decline enough to accommodate the use of emoticons. I'm afraid CMOS is unlikely to treat their styling . . . But I kind of like that double-chin effect" (p. 79). Included in the above chapter is a footnote: "Hilary Powers has written a gem of a guide, 'Making Word Work for You: An Editor's Intro to a Tool of the Trade.' You can download it inexpensively at...." (p. 72). I did. Thanks.
On Associated Press Stylebook: "Minimizing word count must be another goal for newspapers: have you noticed their avoidance of 'that' even when it's needed? 'They maintained the house for years was a haven for crackheads.' It drives me crazy" (p. 28).
Saller's use of "subversive" in the title is a bit of a teaser. And she knows it: "Editor's first loyalty is to the audience of the work you're editing: that is, the reader. . . . Common sense tells us that working on behalf of the reader is not really a terribly subversive move" (p. 4).
To learn the basics of the editing craft, I recommend: reading Constance Hale's "Sin and Syntax" for a review of grammar basics; doing the exercises in a self-teaching book such as Amy Einsohn's "The Copyeditor's Handbook"; and, perusing regularly "The Chicago Manual of Style Online's Q&A," edited by Saller. -- C J Singh
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.
My beef is that this particular Kindle edition needs a copy edit. There were lots of errors such as words and sentences running together.
It's one thing to edit a document to near perfection, but an entirely different challenge to do so without alienating the writer. I'm a department manager for a pricey business consulting firm (not an editor, per se) and personally responsible for the quality of every report my staff produces. The tough part is that many of my staff members are young and "well educated" (MBAs) but 1) were never held to the high standards of "ready for publication" and 2) have, apparently, always been told they were wonderful writers. I want my staff to 1) learn from my edits so my job will get easier over time and 2) not feel defensive (which would interfere with the achievement of goal #1). Top that with the fact that we do 360 reviews, so even if I didn't care how my staff felt about my edits, I need to keep them happy or I will get a poor review. This book was helpful, as the author describes real-world situations and solutions drawing on techniques reflecting an understading of psychology as well as grammar and style.