I'm sure everyone has read a book that she/he thought needed an editor. And every book does need an editor. Unfortunately, editors edit less than ever before. I have never had a bad editor and don't have one now, I'm happy to say.
Today in The New York Times there is an article about Anne Rice. I quote her:
"People who find fault and problems with my books tend to say, 'She needs an editor.' When a person goes over and over a manuscript and wants every word to be perfect, it's very frustrating."
Ms. Rice also took umbrage with readers who reviewed her last book on the Amazon site. She was so incensed that she posted a 1200 word diatribe.
She told The Times: "I have no intention of allowing any editor ever to distort, cut or otherwise mutilate sentences that I have edited and re-edited, and organized myself. I fought a great battle to achieve a status where I did not have to put up with editors making demands on me."
Having someone edit your work is very important. The writer has a stale perspective by the time the novel is finished. This is why I have a first reader before the book ever goes to my agent. After my agent it goes to my editor. My own rule is that if three people say that something isn't working I must pay attention.
The strange thing about Ms. Rice's remarks is that I've never known an editor to cut, distort or mutilate a sentence of mine. Editors suggest. In the end it's your book and you have the last word. Even I do. And I'm not a blockbuster writer.
I don't always take the suggestions but often I find them helpful and see that they make the sentence or paragraph better. A suggestion, for example, might be to shift the beginning of a chapter to the end.
I admit that at first I kick and scream. No one likes to be told that what they've written isn't wonderful. But, eventually, if the suggestion is good, I take it.
Ms. Rice talks about making every word perfect. I don't see how that's possible. No writer can make every word perfect. You do the best you can. And then an editor tries to help and often succeeds in making it damn near perfect.
Also in the article Ms. Rice says: "When you take home a CD of Pavarotti or Marilyn Horne, you don't want to hear another voice blended in."
Aside from this being an absurd analogy, Ms. Rice has put herself in very lofty company.
But I'd better be careful because she writes to Amazon reviewers: "Your stupid, arrogant assuptions about me and what I am doing are slander. You have used the site as if it were a public urinal to publish falsehood and lies."
I certainly don't want to be accused of slander. I am, after all, merely a novelist who needs and desires an editor.