Aren’t they pinched-nosed mousy types with bifocals and buttoned-up blouses? Carol Fisher Saller, author of The Subversive Copy Editor (University of Chicago Press, 2009), thinks not.
A senior editor at the University of Chicago Press, Saller is the voice behind the Chicago Manual of Style’s online Q&A. She wrote The Subversive Copy Editor in response to two kinds of questions that make up the bulk of her mail: queries seeking confirmation that “I’m right” about something, and cries for help from writers and editors who have “hit a wall.”
She establishes in the introduction that the book is not a primer on the fundamentals of copy editing, but rather a handbook on relationships: "Consider this a “relationship” book, because I’m going to talk about the main relationships in your work life—with the writer, with your colleagues, and with yourself—in ways that you might not have considered before. Ways that might be called subversive."
What’s not to like about What Editors Do? This collection of essays traces the role of book editors from acquisition to publication and samples niches like editing genre fiction and working with self-publishing authors.
The twenty-seven contributors represent a “who’s who” of American book publishing: Betsy Lerner, Carol Fisher Saller, Jonathan Karp, Scott Norton, Susan Rabiner, Michael Pietsch, Katharine O’Moore-Klopf, Jane Friedman … the list goes on. Between them, they exemplify the breadth and diversity of the industry.
The editor of this collection, Peter Ginna, has himself worked as a book editor and publisher in New York since 1982.
As Ginna explains in the introduction, What Editors Do is inspired by Gerald Gross’s Editors on Editing, an essay collection first published in 1962. At the time, and for decades after, Gross’s book was the only guide available that was written by editors for editors on their craft. What Editors Do updates this original concept for editors in the age of Amazon.