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Editing Fact and Fiction : A Concise Guide to Book Editing

Marek, Richard (Foreword)
Sharpe, Leslie T.
Gunther, Irene

Cambridge University Press
Published:September 30, 1994

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Every month, it seems, brings a fresh crop of books on writing. Whatever it is you want to write, you can be sure there's a shelf's worth of books to guide you. But try to locate a book on editing, and you're likely to come up empty-handed. Editing is so dependent on instinct that a newcomer is expected somehow to just figure it out. We can imagine no finer introduction to book editing than Editing Fact and Fiction. Authors Leslie T. Sharpe and Irene Gunther explain what different editors (acquiring, copy, production, managing) do, as well as how those tasks vary depending on the type of book (fiction, nonfiction, children's, reference, textbooks, etc.). They address freelance editing, electronic editing, and publishing courses, and have compiled a terrific bibliography of useful books for editors.

But most important, they have "distill[ed] our philosophy of editing into a set of guiding principles," principles "that will inform every editing decision." These principles are all about restraint and respect and having a deep understanding of the elements of good writing. "Do no harm," the authors advise. "Change as little as possible." A book belongs, ultimately, to its author, and it is the editor's job to coax out the best version possible. An editor, they say, is like a baseball umpire. "The best umps, like the best editors, are invariably the ones you don't notice. They guide the game but don't intrude on it." --Jane Steinberg

Product Description:
Editing Fact and Fiction is a concise, practical guide for people interested in book publishing or already working as editors who want to learn more about the opportunities in various kinds of book editing. Writing in a lively, informal style, two editors with extensive experience in a wide variety of fields--fiction and nonfiction, trade and reference, academic and commercial publishing--explain what editors in different jobs really do. The authors take the reader step by step through the editing process, from manuscript to bound book. They discuss the principles of sound editing and provide many specific examples of how to--and how not to--edit copy. They also give examples of how to deal tactfully with authors and show when editorial restraint is the best intervention. Editing Fact and Fiction is a book to be read, not just referred to. It will be an indispensable guide for anyone thinking about a career in book publishing, a valuable resource for working editors who want to enlarge their knowledge, and a useful tool for senior editors training staff. Leslie T. Sharpe and Irene Gunther are both editors and writers. An experienced trade book editor, Leslie T. Sharpe teaches editing and writing at New York University and Columbia University. She is also a regular contributor to New York Newsday. Irene Gunther was a senior editor at Macmillan Publishing and has extensive experience in reference and college book editing. She is the author of a teenage biography and a contributor to various publications.

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