Hi. I'm a minor mid-list writer. I've been assigned to an editor I'm finding impossible to work with. Is there any tactful way to request a different editor, and is there any chance of a small-time writer being listened to about this? (My writer friends say there is not.)First, read this post.
Now, your answer:
Is it possible to tactfully request a new editor? Not really.
Is it possible to untactfully request a new editor? Not really.
It is perfectly true that some editors are impossible. It is also perfectly true that some writers are impossible. I know one author who will complain my ear off every time I see him about how hard it is getting his stuff published and then segue directly into how his editor's attempts to make his work marginally saleable are "censorship". (Seriously; I've read it. Marginally saleable.) He orders from the menu; I eat my tongue for lunch.
Per the link above, it is possible to point out to your editor that the changes she's suggested are not ones you are willing to make (after making an attempt to find common ground). But perhaps that's not your problem.
Perhaps your editor has the habit of ignoring you for eons and when she finally calls, she machine-guns a bunch of contradictory notes at you, tosses a laughably unrealistic deadline like a grenade, and hangs up before she can hear your head explode. In that case, it is possible to write her a tactful letter/email letting her know what elements of her workstyle are making doing your job difficult, and telling her what editorial tactics would help you get your end done. Express how much you want to work with her. When that doesn't work, try again.
If that doesn't work, then it is possible to contact her supervisor and detail the chain of communications that have led to this impasse. MAKE SURE you've tried very hard to overcome your/her workstyle differences and the chain of communications backs this up, because if given any choice, her supervisor will side with her. Unless her supervisor was about to fire her anyway (and don't hope for that, because in that case, your book is without an editor and has a squeaky-wheel author, and it's probably going to be cancelled). You MUST come across as calm, realistic, collaborative, and very regretful that you've had to bring the matter to a higher authority.
Part of being a realistic author is knowing that other authors have given you a bit of a bad name in the complaining department. When editors know an award-winning author who is bitterly offended --nay, outraged!-- that you won't publish her 3,000-word picture book biography about the guy who invented thumbtacks... well, you've got an uphill climb. Good luck.