Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lies They Tell Writers, Part 27: Editors are Idiots

We’ve all heard horror stories about editors. Complaints range from “She just doesn’t get it” to “He totally ruined the book” to anything and everything in between.
Some of those tales might be true. It’s unlikely that editors, on average, are more capable at their chosen craft than other folks are at theirs—so, odds are there are some idiot editors out there. On the other hand, it’s equally unlikely that the ratio of dumb editors exceeds the human average, either.
Most editors, in my experience, are smart folks. Perhaps I’ve been lucky. But none of the editors I’ve worked with has ever done anything other than help make a book (or article or story) better. And their “touch” has tended to be light, and deft. The same holds true with copy editors. Their assistance has been valuable and, on occasion, they’ve kept me from making a fool of myself.
On the other hand, I have heard a few editors at writers’ conferences say that once they’ve accepted your book it’s no longer “your” book, but “our” book, and you can expect wholesale changes to suit their fancy.  
As a writer, I’m afraid I would have to edit that attitude. Because, despite the important contributions editors can make, it’s still my book, not theirs.
And any editor who doesn’t recognize that basic fact is, at best, a frustrated writer. And, quite possibly, an idiot.


  1. Amen, brother. And, it may tickle you to know, I have no edits I'd suggest for this post!

  2. I don't have as much experience with editors as you Rod, but like you, I've been lucky. I've worked with good people who help improve the product. I consider them partners. They must not all stars though. A couple of years ago I judged Mass Market Paperback for the Spur competition. I came away from the experience amazed at the stuff that escaped into print. Maybe it's peculiar to western's but some editors don't seem to grasp the genre.