John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and random topics. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. The original site,, at, and now at

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"The Old Editor" is in

The Old Editor Says, which was first listed on over the weekend, is now in stock.

Someone wondered whether some samples might be posted, since doesn't allow a glimpse into the book. 

Here's a teaser:

The Old Editor says:

"In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." 10-word lead. What've you got that needs more?

The creation of the universe in Genesis 1:1 does not need six paragraphs of throat-clearing before getting to the point, or a little anecdote to prime the pump. Genesis, like the Lord, gets down to the business immediately, and you, if you would like to have the reader's attention for a little while, will do the same. 

And, since there are personal and professional dimensions of editing that go beyond the texts, here's another teaser:

The Old Editor says:

Don’t scorch the popcorn, and never heat up fish in the office microwave.

If you edit solo at home, working in your pajamas, having gin for breakfast, and listening to that music you’d be embarrassed if people knew you like, that’s your business. But if you work in company, have the decency to respect the sensibilities of your colleagues. Common courtesy should be observed, along with basic table manners and the conventions of personal hygiene.