by Raelene Gorlinsky
Yes, indeed, the goal of all editors is to gut your book of individuality and uniqueness, force it into some predetermined mold, and rip your words out of your control.
And there is this bridge I'd like to sell you...
The amazing, incomprehensible thing is that some writers actually believe this nonsense. Are they so ego-driven that they think their writing is perfect and any editing is an attack? Or are they embittered people whose writing has not been yet accepted by publishers, and so they have to justify this with some reason not related to the quality of their work?
Reality: The purpose and goal of any good, professional editor is to help a writer take that gemstone they've produced and polish all the facets to the highest sparkle, turn it into a shining jewel. And thereby ensure the best sales potential for the story, for the profit of both author and publisher (who pays the editor's salary).
Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware has an excellent post on this attitude, which seems to be popping up now as a justification for self-publishing of questionable-quality work. After all, you wouldn't want one of those eeevil editors to get their hands on your precious, perfect words and--gasp--actually have suggestions for improvement!
The Myth of the Evil Editor
Do read the whole article, but the gist of it is this:
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.
That's what it comes down to--this is a professional partnership, with author and editor each contributing their specific skills in a cooperative effort to make the story the best it can be.