Every aspiring author has an ideal in mind for the person he'll eventually entrust with his precious book. A description of this editor can be found on almost any acknowledgment page: patient, unflappable, gentle but thorough, willing to toil unglamorously in the service of someone else's glory - like a really good bikini waxist, basically.
But c'mon — what are book editors really like? Don't get me wrong: some editors are smart, talented, funny, good people. But some, uh, aren't.
"One day, when I am a famous bestselling author, then they'll see."
This editor needs to stop thinking of his job as something between a stopgap and a stepping-stone, grow a pair, and pack his bags and catch the next bus to Iowa if he's such a genius. Or he should stop inflicting his pretensions, slacking, and whining on the rest of us. Either way.
Cat lady who thought it would be like The Best of Everything
Is that a little enamel pin shaped like a kitty asleep on an open book on her tweedy lapel? Steer clear, especially if you're meeting her in a job interview. She'll have you cross-indexing her contacts file by favorite color in no time, because Her Job Is Her Life.
"I secretly wish that I worked at a magazine, but I'm too much of a snob"
Clacks around in stilettos, even though no one cares. She tends to be desperate to stir up drama where none exists and should be avoided (and surreptitiously forwarded mediabistro listings for jobs at InStyle.)
Cute heterosexual dude who coasts through his career because everyone in charge is a horny older lady or a gay man
This guy is generally nice and all, but if you're a chick, it'll be hard not to resent him when you have to work 100,000 times harder than he did for a promotion.
Power-lunching striver who can't manage to conceal his naked careerism long enough to actually advance his career
The WORST. Not only is he a lying, manipulative backstabber, he's bad at it. If he were good at it, he'd be a lawyer or a banker. So you have to watch your back, but you also have to watch as he hoists himself on his own retarded petard. Repeatedly.
Just a total crazy
There are variations on this theme, from the malignantly Regan-ish to the benignly batty. But there are a WHOLE lot of them. People who are traumatized as children often look to books in order to escape from their painful realities, and then they become big readers, who in turn become editors. But I'm no psychologist - I'm just an editor. At least, until someone figures out I wrote this and fires me.