Editing and Authors

  • By: Jessica Faust | Date: Oct 02 2009

A reader recently sent me a link to this Editor Unleashed post on Is Editing Worth It? In the article the author talks about an interview she once did with Laurell K. Hamilton in which the author said, “once you become successful as an author, your editor stops editing you.”

This link actually came at a very good time since I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I don’t think it’s any big secret that there are authors out there that no longer seem to be edited. Readers and writers talk about it all the time; many say they can tell the author isn’t being edited and editors and agents know it happens. But who is really to blame and is it even a problem?

Agents and editors preach all the time about how important editing is. As a former editor I’m a big believer that all writers need someone they trust in their corner, someone who will never hesitate to tell them that something isn’t working and needs to be fixed, someone who will work with them to create a stronger book. But do writers really believe this to be true? Or do many feel that once you reach a certain milestone in your career you can stop listening to everyone else and just write what you want to write? That that’s actually the benefit of success? That finally you can do whatever you want? Or is it the fault of agents and editors who become fearful they’ll offend the author, who will go running to an editor and house who is willing to let them do whatever they want? And is this even a valid fear?

I suspect that, as always, the answer to these questions is that it depends. It depends on the relationship the author has built with her editor and it depends on the trust the two have to really be able to talk. I’m sure there are authors out there who refuse to listen to anything anyone has to say because they believe they know better, and I’m just as sure there are authors out there who wish their editors would edit as they once did instead of being afraid of their every move.

I don’t think all NYT bestselling authors go unedited. In fact, I know for a fact they don’t and that there are many who work just as closely with their editors now as they ever did. I think that editing is important and I don’t think it’s always pretty, but getting a book ready for the public takes teamwork. It always has and it always will. Sure, the author does 99% of the work and that’s why her name is the one on the cover. However, when doing almost anything in life I think it’s good to have a second eye, someone who can really tell it like it is and who, most important, makes your work stronger.

There are a number of amazing editors out there who, no matter what, never stop editing, and I hope they continue to do what they do because for all of us readers it only makes the work more enjoyable.


54 responses to “Editing and Authors”

  1. I was just about to jump into editing one of my reporter's stories when I read your post. I can't imagine NOT having an editor. And I can't imagine a writer with an ego so big that he or she thinks they don't need an editor. Everyone needs good editors. As a team, the goal should be to make the book the best it can be. Yes I want to be challenged. Yes I want to be edited hard. Yes I want to be shown a better way to do something. I don't want an editor telling me what they think I want to hear. Where is the growth in that? I want an editor to tell me how I can make it better. As an editor, I am committed to helping my folks do the best work of their lives. As a writer, it would be awesome to have an agent, editor etc. with that same commitment. I can tell you from experience (and many of my writers have won national awards) that the really great writers are those who are willing to listen and work hard at their craft. It’s not a job; it's a calling. I can also say that I've read some best sellers that I thought needed a lot more editing, especially to make the book tighter. Good editors never forget what their mission is. And good writers should never expect nor want less. Thanks for allowing me to share. Have a super day!

  2. There is nothing better for a writer than someone with a good eye and a keen mind reading their work and advising how to make a book better. I've been fortunate to have some wonderful beta readers who tell it like it is. Their insights have helped me improve my writing in every way. I greatly look forward to the opportunity to work with seasoned editors. What could be more exciting and fulfilling than seeing your work be the best it can be?

  3. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I have three tiers of authors. Those whose hard backs are bought immediately or shortly after they come out. Those who I can wait for the paperback. Those who if library has a copy and there is nothing else interesting and I've read their writing before I will pick up. And, there is sometimes a backslide. If I am truly, truly disappointed in 2 books in a row where it appeared the author was more interested in the size of the novel as compared to the story, they go off my radar completely. The best example, Terry Goodkind. Amazing writer and storyteller. But, one of his books pushed me from being an avid fan who immediately bought the hardcover to not reading any of his novels anymore. What pushed me over the edge? They were walking, and walking, and walking…wait is something there? is something going to happen? oh, it was nothing. They were walking. They were walking. After about 120 pages of nothing but walking and the characters not even having dialouge to move the story along. I had enough! I couldn't even finish the book. People I know said it did not improve. And, he lost someone who was willing to pay for a hardcover immediately due to, what in my humble opionion, was a lack of editting. A debut novelist could never get away with over 100 pages of nothing happening. It's sad. But, I do believe that it is a trap every writer needs to be weary of. So many great books could just be so much shorter and better, if their authors listened to editors.

  4. Avatar beth says:

    I think in some rare cases, it gets to a point that, from developmental talks with editors and agents and self-editing from experience, an established writer may not need as much editing.

    But that's rare. I do have the impression that some authors are no longer edited. I am not sure if it's a case of the writer getting demanding, the editor getting lazy, or an attitude of "who cares? it will sell anyway?" (Which is what I often suspect of the doorstop later versions of Harry Potter–I loved them, but they weren't as tight as they could be.

  5. I can understand busy veteran authors being too pressured by deadlines to have time to thoroughly edit, but there are so many good and swift editors hurting for work, why not hire one of them?

  6. Avatar Jan Cline says:

    I can't imagine ever being confident enough to stop using an editor. Even if they don't change the content of plot or character, that second or third eye will catch mistakes you may have missed a hundred times. I once read a book that was the second in a series that was so poorly edited, it detracted from the great story and characters. There were double words (the the, you, you) and other simple mistakes that should have been caught by someone! I really enjoyed this post and all the comments so far.

  7. Editors have so much to do that the actual editing is getting short shrift, and it will only get worse because of so many editors being laid off in the last months.

    Some time back, I read a midlist mystery from a major publisher where Charleston, SC, was in NC., and Duke University (Durham, NC) was in Georgia among other disasters. Someone must have decided a change in the heroine's backstory education was needed so a universal find and replace was used without thinking about the geography of the matter.

    Problems like this will only get worse.

    The major authors with their appallingly short publishing times between books are certainly showing this lack of editing, as well. Those with a reputation for clean copy also get poor attention from overworked editors.

    Personally, if I were making the bucks they are, I'd hire a copy editor to make sure my copy was clean before I turned it in, or I'd have one go over the galleys.

    It's always the author who gets blamed for the problems so we owe it to ourselves to protect our reputations.

  8. In the past couple of years, I've happened to read some big authors for the first time with their latest book, and I've been flabbergasted at how underedited they are. Meandering, pointless storylines; words repeated to the point of obnoxious (I actually counted two words in one guy's book, and one or the other appeared, on average, every page and a half of the entire book. And the words weren't "that" or "and," but eight- and ten-letter verbs. Someone should have caught that); characters that appear once for no good reason and then disappear. Stuff that gets snatched from my work by my partners, stuff that an editor should catch. I don't know whether the writers got too big for their britches and refused editing, or if the house just didn't bother because sales would be the same either way. But it's a disservice to the readers, whatever the reason, and it's a shame. I really hope that if I am successful and have many books published I will never become too proud to be edited, and indeed, insist that I am. There are plenty of prolific writers who turn out wonderful work, consistent quality, so it's certainly not assured that success breeds inferiority. Which is almost funny when you think about it, that the opposite could be the case.

  9. Avatar Falen says:

    OMG the timing of this post is amazng – i just started Laurel K Hamilton's new book last night (i don't even know why i bother) and within 10 pages she repeated herself about 5 time – she tells us that another character cuts his red hair short so you don't see his curls – but she tells us this 3 TIMES! Thank you LKH, i think i got it the first time. So i was really irritated by both her and her editor, these mistakes (along with other errors and repetitions all within 10 pages) should have been caught during a good read by either of them

  10. Avatar Travener says:

    Oh, for the good old days when even powerhouses like Hemingway had great editors like Max Perkins standing behind them…

  11. Avatar Rachel says:

    I couldn't agree more – everyone needs an editor. Books with nonsensical phrases, annoying repetition and typos are SO off putting!

  12. As a writer and editor, I see both sides of the debate clearly. But I have to say, I would be sorely disappointed in an editor who was afraid to tell me something was crap.

  13. Avatar Julie Dao says:

    That's terrible that some authors have such enormous egos that they feel they don't need an editor. The thing is though, you can almost always tell.

  14. Avatar Laurel says:

    The notion of publishing something with my name on it and not having several good editing passes (from other people) first is terrifying.

    Of course I like what I wrote. I wrote it. I decided a while back that if I can't create a story I like it's like having imaginary friends who won't play with me. But I don't have to pay anyone if I want to read it.

    This calls to mind the "debut author" phenomenon. Those debut books are edited ferociously by beta readers and presumably everyone else up the food chain. Maybe once an author reaches a certain level of success she becomes leery of letting too many eyes touch her work before it's published.

    The lack of editing thing obviously happens. I doubt it's always so nefarious as overblown ego- most authors have dealt with criticism. Surely the blame lies more frequently with time constraints and limited resources.

  15. I'm not rich or famous, but I do make my fairly decent living writing. A good editor is a godsend, and a great editor is a saint, in my opinion.

    I've worked with "editors" who add errors, who don't know the difference between "it's" and "its" and one — I kid you not — who took the word "said" out of the entire manuscript because she "didn't like it." Didn't replace it with anything — just removed it. In a novel. That didn't use "said" all that often.

    Fortunately, I won that battle.

    I've also had article editors who added plugs for sponsor products in my articles with which I did not agree (and left the publication because they then told me I was "required" to add plugs for specific affiliates in each article, whether I knew anything about them or not. Uh, no.

    On the plus side, I've worked with wonderful editors who catch me out in my bad habits, hone the piece so it's as strong as possible in its natural voice, and work with me when I get stuck or something just plain doesn't work.

    I am so thankful to the wonderful editors — every encounter with them makes me better AND makes me strive harder, which means I'm constantly evolving and growing in my writing.

  16. Avatar Anonymous says:

    "As a former editor I’m a big believer that all writers need someone they trust in their corner,"

    I've been having trouble with this one lately. How do you trust an agent or editor when they make an obvious (not subjective opinion) mistake? How do you communicate with them professionally if you feel like you can't say a word or else? How do you clean the coffee off your computer screen when they suggest you rewrite history? And it's not a alternate history novel?

  17. Avatar AmyB says:

    I have been burned so many times buying a late-career book from a highly successful bestselling author and finding that it's lazily written crap that I refuse to buy such books anymore unless they come with absolutely glowing recommendations. I buy mostly debut authors, because debut authors are not only being edited, they had to really struggle to get published–thus their books are usually really good. Sometimes they are the products of years of work.

    I read one new author whose first and second books were brilliant, her third book was so-so, and all the ones following were tripe. I don't know if it's that she's being rushed, or she's running out of ideas, or just getting lazy. But I find I get burned a lot less with debut authors than with established ones. Debut authors simply do not have the option of phoning it in.

  18. Avatar Jm Diaz says:

    I don't think that editing should ever stop. Even if you are the next – dare I say it? – Dan Brown. Especially if you are that known. Granted, having "made-it" as they say should grant a bit more creative freedom, but one still the story to be well told.
    Wait, what am I saying? More creative freedom? We are writers! We can create entire universes… that will forever need editing.

  19. Avatar Amy Rauch Neilson says:

    As Stephen King writes in his memoir, On Writing, "To write is human, to edit is divine."

    A writer is never too good to have an editor — I don't care how many books he or she has sold or how long he or she has been writing.

    When a writer starts thinking that he or she is too good for feedback and/or guidance, it's the first step down that proverbial slippery slope…

    Life and writing — they're a journey. And when we start thinking we're too good for anyone else to be able to offer us anything along the way, that's when we stop growing, stop turning out our best work, perhaps even begin moving in the opposite direction…

    Success? Definitely. Diva status? No thank you.

  20. Avatar Dara says:

    Even if I was a NYT bestseller, I'd still would like someone to edit my novel before it's published. Even if you earn a certain amount of success, I think it's always a good idea to have another set of eyes go over it to make sure it works.

    I really wouldn't want to be one of those authors that readers complain about because their book shows a lack of editing. Even if it wasn't an actual editor for a publishing company I'd want someone to go over it with a critical eye.

  21. Jacky, Congrats on Sheila Connolly's Museum Mysteries deal. The books look intriguing, especially since I write and love mysteries and live in PA!

  22. Avatar Tom Heehler says:

    Let me assure everyone here that Jessica is by no means a "former" editor. What she did with my book proposal is something that I could not have done.

  23. Avatar Kimber An says:

    I figured it all boiled down to money. Authors are encouraged to keep writing similar stories as long as they're making money, no matter how weak the storyline becomes. As long as readers keep buying, they keep writing the same thing over and over with just a little variation until the train finally runs out of steam. How is it possible to edit that? Must be like patching a really old pair of jeans with brand new fabric. No matter how much you love those jeans, they're going to rip apart again almost immediately.

  24. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I second Kimber An's comment with on example: David and Leigh Eddings anyone? Only two series published but with basically the same extact plot in both. Just the names and places change…but little else. Although they made a lot of money, so it worked on some level.

  25. I think writers need to be edited at every stage of their career. I find it upsetting and annoying as a reader to read books that should have been edited for the author's own sake–to eliminate all the self-indulgent stuff, the same way movie directors/producers/actors who have too much power often make lousy movies. A good editor cuts out the excess, shapes the story, polishes the gem.

  26. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Whose fault is it — the writer who thinks they are too big for their britches, or the editor that knows the author will sell anyway so doesn't bother? I'm inclined to think the onus falls on the edtior.

    They are going with a sure thing. How do you prevent this in your own career, though? Demand editing from someone who doens't really care?

  27. Avatar Mira says:

    I love your answer – it depends. Situations like these are really individualized.

    But I do agree that writers in general need editors. Writing is only the first part; I think writing is very much an exchange between the author and the reader, so before finalizing a process, the writer needs to know how the reader reacted! Too much here, too little there, I don't understand this, I stopped reading here, etc.

    I do have some questions about myself as a new author though. Sometimes I wonder if I might be better served finding a good teacher or editor, than through critique groups. I love my critique group, but I don't always trust their feedback….I have mixed feelings about this. I've learned alot from them, but are they steering me in the right direction? I have also had some very bad experiences in other critique groups that stopped me from writing for awhile…….

    Again, I feel mixed. But a good solid critique group is certainly better than none. And, back to the topic, I can't imagine for a minute not wanting my work to be edited.

  28. Avatar Krista G. says:

    For me personally, I can't imagine ever getting to the point when I feel like I don't need an editor. I'm just too close to the story sometimes to see what doesn't make sense or what isn't working.

    So I promise to be the most humble, teachable, editable writer ever. Now will someone put me on the NYT bestseller list already? *smiles*

  29. Avatar jwr35mm says:

    That milestone that entitles me to stop listening to the people around me? That's the one they put at the head of my grave.

    Until that time, I'll sift through what I hear from editors, agents, writers and readers, and learn from it.

    Do otherwise, and I suspect those people will find someone else to talk to, yes?

  30. Avatar Jenna says:

    From what I understand, Hamilton was already a success when her vampire books first came out. I read the first one of her Anita Blake series, and the book went totally off the rails in the middle. I didn't give one damn about the characters. I haven't gone on to book 2, and will likely never bother. An editor SHOULD have told her to tighten up that middle and throw out a bunch of useless scenes. Guess that didn't happen.

    I have heard tell that Stephenie Meyer doesn't edit very much, because the editors are afraid she'll go to another publisher if they piss her off. That would certainly explain the ramble that was Twilight Book 4. She could have used some help with The Host, too, although the premise (and most of the book) were great. Just could have used a little tightening.

    But yeah, I think an author needs to know when something isn't working. Most of us are NOT Tolkein – we need an editor.

  31. "I can't imagine for a minute not wanting my work to be edited."

    Right on, Mira!

    My characters and storylines belong to me as the writer (until I sign a book deal- insert overzealous giggling here), but that doesn't mean they can't be more successful at the hand of someone else's advice, no matter how widely published I am. I may be a glutton for punishment, but the worst critiques I can imagine getting are the ones that say, "This is great- loved it." and nothing more. Help a girl out, wouldja? I need to be able to learn from writing in order to love writing.

    Which brings me to a question…

    How are we defining "successful" here? Jessica, what are the milestones you had in mind for measuring this? One book? Four? Certain number of sales?

    I'm so curious!

  32. I'll always want to be edited. I, too, think all writers need people in their corner. I'm not yet published, but the feedback I receive from critique group, manuscript consultations, and workshops helps me grow as a writer. I believe everyone has room for growth, and the honest opinions of the people we trust are priceless.

  33. I think authors always need editors. Maybe when they've had several successful books, they won't need much editing, but they still need one.
    Obviously, we don't know how much bestselling second, third, X, novels have been edited, but I think it really shows when they haven't had a good edit – and I agree that LKH could use a lot better editing in several of her books (although I do actually like them).

    I'm curious about the other commenters who say that they've read a popular author, and thought it needed a good edit, but haven't said who the author was. Is there a particular reason for the reluctance to share? Personally, I'd be very interested to see which books other people think have been poorly edited.

  34. Avatar Anonymous says:

    We're all so quick to blame the author's ego. Sometimes it's the publisher's pocketbook. They get fat and greedy and want a new blockbuster every 12 months.

    That means an author has to write 90k new words, while editing and copy editing 90k old words, which come in on random waves, on top of publicity responsibilities.

    Even if you write at NaNo speeds, that's still 2 months to write a book that needs 6 months lead time from the major trade publications to guarantee reviews. That leaves four months to revise and copyedit, and and do first pass pages.

    I'll give you a hint: my house bought my debut novel TWO YEARS before it hit shelves, because that's how long it took to do proper revision and copyedit. Yeah, there are plenty of special authors (Anne Rice *cough*) who think they don't need editing anymore.

    But there are plenty of big authors whose houses have cut an ENTIRE YEAR out of the prep for every book in the rush to get to print.

  35. Avatar Anonymous says:

    There is SO much inconsistency in this business. We're told not to add superfluous description to our novels, but at the same time required (nowadays) to write AT LEAST 70,000 words when the story we're writing would have been better told in, say, 55,000 or 60,000. We're told that only the best writing gets published and we see these books by seasoned authors that are nothing but thrown together messes. I'd use examples, but I prefer not to single an author out, no matter how bad his or her writing has become. We're told to show and not tell,and to use backstory sparingly, but some of the regularly published authors use backstory as well as repetitive telling after showing just to fill today's required wordcount.
    Why do books have to be so long that we need to wade through (and not really read) page after page of filler? I really don't get what drives these publishers to come up with these standards.

  36. Avatar Jemi Fraser says:

    I haven't yet been lucky enough to work with an editor, but look forward to the experience. Working with some wonderful crit partners has brought added layers to my writing. I'm sure an editor would do so much more! I can't imagine anyone not wanting to work with an editor who can improve their work.

  37. Avatar Mags says:

    One of my favorite authors falls desperately into this category. I adore his writing, I adore his imagination. I'll read everything he writes, because he's a damn good writer and an exciting story-teller.

    That said, for every "AH!" I experience reading him (and there are many), I sigh three times for the man who's never met a darling he couldn't kill… Nay, for the man who's never met a darling he didn't set up in a penthouse apartment with room service and an AmEx.

    The AH!'s have it. But, I'd so love to read him, you know, well-edited. Without having to edit him in my brain as I read, I mean.

  38. GapYearGirl, I'm one who didn't mention any writers when saying some of their work was clearly in need of serious editing. That was deliberate. I just don't see any need for yet-unpublished me to trash on someone successful. It risks coming off as sour grapes, for one. Another thing is I've heard one of the authors I mentioned speak, and he seemed a good enough guy. Not that whatever I say is going to take away his sales, but a public forum is not the place for me to name names, except in praise. I understand your wish to know who people mean, but I'm just not comfortable saying: "Well, that John Q. Public sure needs a little humbling in my opinion!" Capiche?

  39. I've noticed it, too. I don't assume it's a big-shot author, though. Maybe it is, but I wonder if the publishing house just assumes the author no longer needs it, since they're selling anyway.

    Two examples come to mind. One…Nora Roberts. Everyone knows she can write. But quite honestly, the first four books of hers that I picked up were among the WORST copyedited books I've ever read. It was difficult to go more than three or more pages without finding paragraphs that weren't indented, missing opening quotes, words spelled wrong, lines duplicated, etc. I wonder how big of an impact that made in the fact that I'm still not a big Nora fan, even though I've read a few that were copyedited well. Like they say…Nora could publish her grocery list and it would be a best seller, so did the publisher figure copyediting wasn't needed, even after the typesetter messed up hundreds of things? I don't know, but I doubt Nora put those mistakes in there!

    Then, since we're talking editing more than copyediting…there's another author (whom I'll leave un-named) whose early books are some of my absolute favorites. Even after everything I've learned about writing, they STILL suck me in. But the books she's been writing for the last ten years or so headhop so badly, and are so incredibly "telling" that it's difficult to get through them. She's writing paragraphs like: "Sara laughed. She thought she'd never seen something so funny. Sara looked across the room." Yes, that bad, with the person's name stuck in a single paragraph of thought 3 times, when the pronoun "she" would have worked for all three, on top of fifteen more instances of her name on that page. I can't help wondering if she got some heavy editing in her early books and somehow never learned the lessons the editor was trying to teach her.

    Me…if I ever notice that the editing is getting less and less, I will be asking readers and critiquers for honest, harsh feedback. Have my writing skills improved that much? Or is my editor getting lazy? 'Cause the last is a career-killer!

  40. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I used a pro editor who told me they liked a certain character so much that I went back and added more scenes and dialogue. Much later I realized they were only rehashing the previous scenes, so I deleted them (over 5000 words) and the novel became much tighter and stronger. I'm a writer/editor but it's hard to edit yourself at times. So far my best editor overall has been my husband!

  41. Avatar Kate Douglas says:

    I'm currently writing my 21st book (not counting the ten I did for small press pubs) and I can't imagine not being edited. Plus, I have a group of beta readers I trust to read and tell me what needs fixin' in my books, which means they're already heavily edited before they're even turned in to my publisher. To use a familiar saying, it takes a village to write a book. I'm lucky to have an amazingly strong village behind me.

  42. Avatar Christa says:

    I think all writer's worth their salt have a passion for their stories. I also think, based on experience and observation, that it is extremely difficult to truly edit your own work because that passion you had writing it is what will give you blind spots while editing it.

    Even if you happen to be one of those rare writers who, after years and years of best sellers, finds that your editor doesn't need to do much editing anymore, isn't it worth it to still have them review it? What do you lose by having it edited? Nothing, except a potential hit to your ego when your editor comes back with suggestions.

    I think there's a reason that the ego is often seen as the bad guy. If you let it, it really can destroy you. And, perhaps, that's also part of the challenge. Can you be successful and remain humble enough to recognize the value that other people bring to the table?

  43. Since you brought it up, I wanted to ask a question about editing. A freelance editor edited my MS and I wonder if agents want to know this in a query letter. I'm torn because, on the one hand, I would think the agent would like this because it means it's better polished. But, on the other hand, I've heard it gives the impression the writer won't listen to any but them. What do you think?

  44. Avatar Brit Mandelo says:

    You know, I always joked about how later Hamilton books seem to be completely unedited. Huh. Interesting.

    I think it's baffling to assume that commercial success or even critical acclaim suddenly means that an author is a one-person show. No matter how good of a self-editor you are, a second or third or fifth pair of eyes can see things you didn't. I love hard criticism, because it always helps! I want the book to say what I want it to say, and only a reader/editor can tell me if I'm succeeding.

  45. Avatar angie says:

    One of my favorite authors gave a talk recently, and her deal with the publisher now requires her to do a book a year. She noted how the process is much different than when she wrote the first book (which took longer to write, is really fabulous, and became a best-seller.) I have read some of her later books and noticed they read quite differently. There are parts with too much detail and major events that seemed under developed. This is just my opinion, of course. But, as reader and raving fan, I noticed.

  46. Avatar susiej says:

    I've stopped reading several series because the writing (or the rambling)was so annyoing. Whether it's author ego, industry scrimping, whatever, it's unfortunate, and in the end, disadvantageous to everyone if it wastes ink, paper,and stops readers from buying future books.

  47. Avatar Christine says:

    I stopped reading Anne Rice and LKH because they were not edited and it *showed* in the book. I haven't bought anything Anne Rice in almost 5-7 years because of that.

  48. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Great point, Angie! Why not hire a freelance editor who needs the work? You'd think these big-name authors could afford to hire an unemployed editor on their own. Why not spread the wealth a bit?

    Everyone (especially bestselling authors with a reputation to protect) needs a fresh pair of eyes to look over a ms. before it's published.

  49. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I call this the "Anne Rice Syndrome".

    "Interview with the Vampire", at a little over 200 pages, is a gorgeous book. Based on its phenomenal success, Ms. Rice refused to let anyone edit her later work, which explains why her books got progressively longer – and nearly unreadable – and how something as truly awful as "Violin" made it into bookstores.

    I think J.K. Rowlings falls into the same camp, although her books are easier to read. But why should I pay $25 for a book that has too many parts I can easily skim?

    All writers need editors. They owe it to their readers.

  50. Avatar Anonymous says:

    Some reasons for a bestselling author to refuse to be edited:

    1. New editor with every project. Gets burned out "teaching" the new editor.

    2. Author knows more than the editor. (see #1)

    3. Publisher doesn't demand it.

    4. Author pushes up against a hard deadline and there is no time for editorial.

    I know bestselling authors who have in their contract the no-editing clause. I personally think it's a mistake. I've also had editors who have told me to turn scenes into flashbacks, etc. Scary.

  51. Avatar Coral Press says:

    I think it's less a question of writers feeling entitled or egotistical enough to skip the editing part than the issue of instant gratification that the internet and new technology has made us accustomed to. One-click publishing is ubiquitous; I'm willing to bet that most successful bloggers do not have someone editing their posts.

    With the advent of online publishing for the masses, that instant gratification may have carried over into the traditional publishing world, letting writers and publishers believe that timeliness is better than quality in this newly fast-paced industry.

    Incidentally, I also think it's important to remember that editing does not just mean copy-editing. The bigger picture of editing is just as or more important, but it's sometimes overlooked for the reasons everybody has mentioned above.

  52. Avatar Anonymous says:

    One writers I would put in the underedited camp is Diana Gabaldon. Loved the first few books of the Outlander series, but the latest is terrible. The characters are boring, the plot doesn't go anywhere, etc. I don't think an editor touched this stuff. Also, by the time most romance authors get to hardcover, they're best stuff is behind them. (Most of the time.) Just my opinion. 🙂

  53. Avatar P.A.Brown says:

    I don't ever want my editors to stop the incredible job they do for me. Why anyone would think they are so flawless that a second set of eyes is unnecessary is beyond my comprehension. A good editor can make a fair book, good, a good book great. Where's the flaw in that? I would hope I never let my ego override good judgment.

    In the end, all I can say is 'Have at it, tear me to shreds, I'm strong enough to pick up the pieces'

  54. Avatar Anonymous says:

    I'm writing my fifth novel and I have gotten three of them published. My new novel is a science-fiction story on World War III, my novel has 2,180 words. My story is about a war that started because the president of Germany had an argument with the president of the United States, and then declared war.
    It was a peaceful day in Germany, but then it all turned harrowing and then a war has started, a world war! It all started a few days ago when the president of the United States came to visit the president of Germany for a deal. The deal was for Germany to be part of the United States. The president of Germany is having a hard time, he doesn’t know if it is a good idea for Germany to be part of the United States. The president of the United States kept saying “yes”, but the president of Germany kept saying “no”. So then they started fighting and declared war! A soldier named Juan Tucker is getting ready for the most intense war of his life.
    As Juan was getting ready, he and his teammates, Andy, Justin, and Christian got their phones and said goodbye to their friends and family. Then they got on a helicopter and flew to Germany. As they where flying, they got hit by a rocket-launcher! As they where falling down, the helicopter was spinning so fast, that they thought they where in a tornado, and then the helicopter smashed into the ground. Juan and his teammates survived except for the pilot.
    So now I gave you a little part of my novel. I've won the 2007 writing contest, and I got a masters degree for writing. I've also been reading a lot of war books, so I know a lot about wars. I would enjoy if you liked my letter. If you didn’t I’ll still be happy.
    From: Johan Seminario