Thursday, February 26, 2009


Today's New York Times PAPER CUTS blog features a winner from my alma mater, Carol Saller’s The Subversive Copy Editor, University of Chicago Press.

The article begins:

“The Subversive Copy Editor.” What a title! It brings to mind all sorts of wickedness, does it not? The rogue editor inserting illicit language, or botching grammar, or wittingly misplacing punctuation out of spite toward some demon writer.

But it’s not what you think — nor is this a stylebook or a grammar guide or a primer on the hobgoblins of English usage (we have plenty of those). No, this is a “relationship” book, writes its author, Carol Fisher Saller, doyenne of The Chicago Manual of Style Online’s Q.&A. Here, she hopes to “soothe and encourage and lend power” to editors who have too long suffered “from the oppression of unhelpful habits and attitudes.” This is the book Oprah would write if her vocation were saving writers from embarrassment, rather than saving the whole world.

And goes on to say:
She [Saller] reminds us that the reader is Priority 1 and that while standards are crucial (“I’m not going to suggest that you toss out your stylebook”), so is flexibility (sometimes “a style is just a style”). There’s advice here on deadline management, e-mail etiquette and how to handle “the difficult author.” There’s even a section called “Dear Writers: A Chapter of Your Own,” which aims to make the editing process — and editors themselves — seem just a tad less infuriating exotic. (In fact, this little book would make a great gift for writers: a quick anthropological study on that eccentric species Homo editorialis.)

Looks like a winner!

Click HERE to read the book's introduction from the University of Chicago Press Website and HERE to order the book.


  1. I love how "exotic" replaces the "other word" so perfectly!

  2. All books should also be copy edited by second graders. They see things that get by us adults.

  3. This sounds great, Jill. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sounds like something I need in my bookcase for sure. I know we were discussing something similar over at Editorial Anonymous not that long ago.



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