Anticipating enchantment

The myth of editorial perfection and the legend of the solo author

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  • Published 20240206
  • ISBN: 978-1-922212-92-4
  • Extent: 203pp
  • Paperback, ePub, PDF, Kindle compatible

TELLING A STRANGER that you are a book editor normally results in one of two responses. Either you’ll be told that editing has deteriorated – whether in the past five or fifty years depends on your interlocutor. Or the charge is that editors intervene too much, their contribution a sort of con job perpetrated on unsuspecting readers. Both responses are characterised as a symptom of the evils of capitalism: either there is no money for proper editing anymore, or books are being smooshed into more marketable boxes. Some claim that there is no proper editing because they’ve found typos or misused words and phrases in contemporary books. Others hold that editorial interventions are extreme and endanger the concept of authorship. 

But, as with any generalisation, the reality is much more complicated. As a book editor and researcher of editing and publishing history, I have defences for each accusation, if it will please the court of public opinion.

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About the author

Alice Grundy

Alice Grundy has been a book editor for the past fifteen years and is completing a PhD at ANU. Her thesis forms the basis for...

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