So @fakebaldur, as he is wont to do, started being an agent provocateur this morning:
I argued with him over this, but to make this story shorter, here’s what he hit me with:
And while I don’t agree about editing going away — may God forbid that! — he reminded me of that hack Harold Robbins, who got away with murder.
Once, he wrote 200 pages of a novel and set it aside for so long before tapping out the rest that none of the characters in the first half were consistent with those in the second.
When his editor warned him that readers were likely to ask for their money back, Robbins’s response was: “F*** ’em”.
The manuscript went to press unchanged – and not a single person wrote in to complain.
Jesus Wept and Poe spun in his grave!
I don’t think anyone could get away with that these days. Robbins was able to because he hit the right moment. A sexual revolution was happening in America and Robbins was mining it with books that were basically acceptable borderline pornography marketed to the mainstream. Women who would never think to set foot in an X-rated theater (which was the only place one could see moving porn in those pre-VCR days) could be “educated” about sex via Harold Robbins’ books.
There’s one writer I admire who once bragged about how his stuff was good enough not to be edited and how he fought most suggested edits. I bought that line for years. Until I came to his stuff fresh after several years. And boy, could it have used editing!
So, I don’t care what @fakebaldur argues or how low prices will go for eBooks (and they will go low; see here and here and here and here), if you skip the editing step, the only thing you can brag about — if you get the sales — is the money you’ve made. You won’t have the respect of other writers, however, so don’t whine when you’re snubbed by them.
And since people often squawk that solutions should be presented to problems, I propose cutting editors in on the money action. If an editor wants to charge “X” for editing, it might be in their best interests to think about accepting “part of X” in exchange for a per-sale royalty on the book sold. This has several advantages:
1) Writers don’t have to put up all of the editing expense up front.
2) Editors have multiple ongoing income streams to tide them over in between jobs.
3) If a book hits big, the editor gets a lot more than the original flat-fee “X.”
In order for that to work, trust and totally transparent accounting will be necessary. Along with the understanding that an eBook’s price could — most likely will — vary wildly.