The past couple of days have seen some fantastic posts by friends, Billie Sue Mosiman and Armand Rosamilia about editors and the indie scene (I highly recommend reading them for yourself). Likewise, I have met the good and the bad. Horror stories about editors are a dime a dozen down in Indie-Land. As a person who does a bit of editing (over 50 anthologies and novels to date), I have to say it is one of the LEAST glamorous aspects to this business.
I would have to say that I fall into the "copy editor" bracket. What I do is clean up spelling, punctuation, and keep an eye out for evil homonyms, synonyms, and homophones. Also, I keep an eye out for continuity such as when a character suddenly and illegally changes his name, or is something that was to the left, left, left suddenly appears on the right.
On some occasions, if I am working with a writer and they have a particularly awkward phrase, I contact them and make suggested changes that they can keep or discard. In the end, I am of the belief that it is his or her story and they can accept or reject anything I propose.
This brings me to what I believe is the strength of the new writing revolution: unique voices.
We have all seen the homogenization of Hollywood these past years. Nobody seems willing to take a risk. While it is certainly true that there is a swamp of VERY bad work out there...I believe that there is some amazing talent. Much of it would have been bypassed (or has been) by the traditional publishers. The stories lack the warm-and-fuzzy endings that are so common in the annals of the "Big Six" release schedule.
While I do believe that an editor should be able to convey suggestions to the writer, the indie scene has set the old way of doing things on its ear. Of course, that is just one man's opinion. This is a debate that has much more gray than black or white. One thing is for sure, writers should always seek outside eyes that are not afraid to point out flaws. Sure, nobody likes criticism, but in this business, if you can't tolerate a voice of dissent, then you are playing on the wrong field.