Saller: The Subversive Copy Editor

Cover of Saller, The Subversive Copy Editor

The Subversive Copy Editor is an accessible and entertaining read about the realities of copy-editing, combining practical ways to solve editorial problems and guidance on how to build and manage relationships with authors. An insightful, humorous and useful quick read.

From the book:

“It is your privilege to polish copy without the tedium and agony of producing it in the first place. Your first goal isn’t to slash and burn your way through a document in an effort to make it conform to a list of style rules. Your first goal is merely to do no harm.
And oh, baby – the ways in which we do harm.
For every writer with a tin ear who is helped by a competent editor, there is an inexperienced editor who will take a fresh and well-voiced text and edit the life out of it. He’ll delete every comma that isn’t justified in his high school grammar, and he’ll put them in where the writer is trying to pick up speed.”

The Subversive Copy Editor
Second Edition,
The University of Chicago Press
Hardback, paperback, ebook, 2016
Carol Fisher Saller is editor of the Chicago Manual of Style Online’s Q&A.


Preface to the second edition

PART ONE: Working with the writer, for the reader
1 The subversive copy editor
2 The good launch
3 Working for the reader, through the writer: carefulness, transparency, flexibility
4 When things get tough: The difficult author
5 The misguided martyr; or, laying down your life for the serial comma
6 Dear writers: A chapter of your own
PART TWO: Working with your colleagues and with yourself
7 When things get tough (the sequel): The dangerous manuscript
8 Know thy word processor
9 The living deadline
10 That damned village: Managing work relationships
11 The freelancer’s quandaries
12 Things we haven’t learned yet: Keeping up professionally
13 The Zen of copyediting
14 You still want to be a copy editor? Breaking in
Further reading