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Monday, July 19, 2010

Are Editors Evil?

There's a great post today over at the Writer Beware! Blog----here's an excerpt--

Friday, July 16, 2010
The Myth of the Evil Editor
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Recently, in an online conversation touching on self-publishing, a self-published writer commented on how happy she is that her books are truly her own--published exactly as she intended them, not mutilated or adulterated by some big publishing house editor whose main goal is to turn out cookie-cutter authors. When I replied that I've worked with three editors at five large publishers over the course of seven novels, and have never had my work mutilated or adulterated, much less transformed into a cookie, she told me that I was "very lucky," for she knew of many writers who'd had the opposite experience.

I didn't ask her who those writers were. If I had, I suspect I would have gotten a vague response about a friend of a friend, or an article she'd seen at some point, or some other form of non-first-hand information. Like the fear of theft, the idea that the main function of publishing house editors is to turn books into clones, and that authors who publish "traditionally" can expect to have their manuscripts slashed and burned in callous disregard of their original voices and intents, is largely unfounded. Nevertheless, it's quite common. I've often seen it used to justify a choice to self-publish ("I want my book to remain MY BOOK!"), or presented as one of the reasons why self-publishing is superior.

At its best, the author-editor relationship is a partnership. The editor doesn't want to turn your book into a cookie; she wants it to be as good as it can possibly be so it will sell robustly and make money for everyone. To that end, she suggests ways in which your manuscript could be strengthened and improved, and leaves it to you to make those changes in the best way you can. You're well-advised to take her comments seriously--she's a professional, after all, and writers who believe they don't need an editorial eye are letting their egos run away with their good sense. But it is still your book, and if you disagree with your editor you're free to say so, and to make a case for keeping things as they are, or for making a different change.

Read the rest here.

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