Monday, March 2, 2009

Resnick on The Secret Author

Mike Resnick of Jim Baen's Universe talks about the perils of writers becoming so popular that editorial changes never stick. Excerpts:

There’s a secret author I want to tell you about. You don’t know him, but you’ve bought some of his books. You probably didn’t think much of them, but it didn’t stop you from going out and buying more.

Editors don’t like to talk about him much, because sooner or later they’re forced to deal with him, and they don’t dare reject him. Writers know about him, but he’s got a lot of friends and a lot of clout, so they only talk about him to each other, in private. Critics know all about him, but they’re not being paid to review his books—exactly.

So it’s up to me to tell you about him.

A little background first: if a writer becomes successful enough, the day will come when he is, in the parlance of the field, “editor-proof.”

What does it mean?

Simply this: no editor will dare risk losing that writer by performing his editorial duty thoroughly and properly.

Read the whole thing. I wish Resnick hadn't felt the need to name names, but it's hard to argue with his conclusion: The output of such overly popular authors dilutes the quality of the market as a whole.

(Picture: CC 2005 by
Pulpolux !!!)


Jessica (The Bluestocking Society) said...

Boy, I could venture a guess at a few names here, . . . but I won't.

Jessica @ The Bluestocking Society

Loren Eaton said...

Resnick restrains himself to first names, but exact identities are still pretty clear. To be fair, I wouldn't say that any of the authors are terrible writers -- just that no one will edit them. Which is exactly his point.

ollwen said...

We can diagnose this. Let's call it, "The George Lucas Syndrome." Someone who exhibits great creativity, but whose success makes them too arrogant to even edit their own thoughts, let alone submit themselves to someone else's editing.

ok. . . so probably most editor-proof writers will never match exhibit A, but. . . I think it's funny. Sad, but funny.

Loren Eaton said...

The George Lucas Syndrome = gold! Seriously, could the Star Wars prequels have stunk any worse?