Do any famous writers refuse to be edited?

I had posted an OP about a week or so ago about how ponderous the popular Honor Harrington science fiction series was becoming. It just seemed lots of the book around book 5 and forward was becoming sheer padding with endless, ham handed political gabbery and clunky interpersonal vignettes.

I wondered how any decent editor could let this blather get by. Can popular authors get to the point they can refuse to be edited?

Anne Rice, Tom Clancy, and J.K. Rowling all get accused of this.

“His/her early books were really good, but after he/she got rich and famous, his/her later books became ponderous, bloated monstrosities.”

According to Bennett Cerf, Ernest Hemingway had an arrangement with his publisher that nothing could be changed - not a word, letter or punctuation mark.

One day, Hemingway submitted a manuscript containing some obscenities (obliquely understood to include the f-word).

The editor read the manuscript, took umbrage, and absentmindedly jotted down the obscenities on a ‘things to do’ notepad.

His secretary later saw this and remarked, “The things a secretary has to do for her boss!”

Popular authors have more clout and can refuse editorial suggestions, but I doubt they’d ignore them completely. The books may even become longer because of editorial suggestions.

An author can always refuse to make the changes. Reportedly Marilynne Robinson went over the galleys of her first novel Housekeeping (back in 1980, when things were phototypeset) and changed back everything the copyeditor had done. Robinson didn’t publish anything else for over 20 years. Those two facts are related.

Well, Robert Jordan’s editor was Mrs. Jordan (or whatever their real surname is…I forget). And it shows, after about the fourth book.

I find it hard to believe an editor actually touched G.R.R. Martin’s last two Song of Ice and Fire books. A proofreader, maybe. An actual editor? No.

I’ve read stories that Harlan Ellison is quite…picky…about how his works are edited.

I wouldn’t know, but “refusing to be edited” seems synonymous with “not getting published.”

I believe all the stories about how authors refuse to take criticism after they become big. Nothing else makes sense.

Bennett Cerf, for those who don’t know, “wrote” a series of joke books back in the day. He took old jokes and inserted the name of a famous person into them to make them seem real and get more sales. Do not under any circumstances delude yourself into thinking that any of them actually happened.

I believe he claims that his editor convinced him to pull some climaxes of some of the storylines and place them in the next book. So it could have been LONGER.

Tom Clancy’s Rainbow 6 was clearly not edited. Nor was it particularly good.

Okay, it never saw a GOOD editor. I’d have loved a longer book if it meant that something had managed to actually happen.

I loved the game so much and was hyped up to read the book when I was younger. How disappointing that I couldn’t get past the first 200 pages. Dull and dull.

I recall Dick Francis saying he rarely rewrote his later books. He said early in his career attempts at rewriting (based on editors comments) never came out well. He felt his own process of proof reading using his wife was better.

I refuse to believe that editors touched Rowling’s or Stephen King’s books after they stared making so much money for the publishers. These two writers got too full of themselves and powerful to allow their precious words to be edited.

I have no proof for this. It’s just what I believe.

I have heard about this with Carl Sagan. It would explain the purple prose of Contact.

I read a thoughtful biography of Hemingway’s (and Fitzgerald’s and Thomas Wolfe’s, etc.) editor, Maxwell Perkins. I don’t recall reading this, so am inclined to go with **Exapno’s **observation about Bennett Cerf’s bumper crops (IIRC, “Bennett Cerf’s Bumper Crop” was the name of one of his collections)…

Anne Rice makes no bones about it. In her famous Amazon rantshe said

Huh, funny, I was just commenting to a friend at lunch that Weber’s later books seem to suffer from precisely this problem.

It’s not necessarily the author’s fault, though. I could easily see an editor (especially a young or new one) being too intimidated by a successful author to suggest major changes, even if that wasn’t the author’s intent.

I wonder if there are many writers whose editors say “You need more”.

Robert Heinlein often gets accused of this, and I think it’s accurate in his case. However, I think very few authors really refuse all editorial changes; rather, I think that new authors understand that the publisher could realistically refuse to publish the book, leaving the author out of luck. Established authors know that they have enough clout to negotiate a new contract with another publishing house, and the publishers know that the author’s name will sell enough books to make a profit, even unedited.