In praise of the editor

Editors should be the heroes of readers and authors. They save authors from themselves and readers from authors’ egos. Consider: when did you last read a book that you wished was longer? Not in the sense that you would love the delight of a good tale well told to continue, but in the sense that you would want to eat a second pudding after a three course dinner. Difficult to remember isn’t it? Yet it seems that books, most egregiously biographies, seem to get longer and longer with stuff that shouldn’t even make it to the footnotes appearing in the main body. For example, in a biography I recently abandoned through sheer tedium, we are told, more than once, that the poet dined on oysters and champagne. Take a note publishers and authors: food outside a cookbook is never interesting - unless it killed the subject. The more famous and best-selling the author, the worse it seems to be. This is probably part of the disease of celebrity-worship and cost-cutting that is infecting all publishing: the more successful the author, the less powerful the editor. When costs are cut who feels the knife first?

Honour, pay and obey the editor should be a vow taken by both author and publisher.
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