I've always wanted to know more about the 'kind editor'? Is a he or a she? Are they involved with VFD? Why would they go through so much inconvenience (just read Snicket's instructions in each letter on the end of a book) to publish a book series that the author himself consider too depressing for kids? What is the gain for the editor?
I like to think the “kind editor” is based on Daniel Handler’s real-life agent, Charlotte Sheedy. But in Lemony Snicket’s universe, Daniel Handler becomes the fictional author’s agent… So if we follow this hierarchy, Charlotte Sheedy would become the editor. We know that Brett Helquist (Handler’s illustrator) and Meredith Heuer (Handler’s photographer) also exist within the Snicket universe as well. Why not Charlotte Sheedy?
It would be fitting because Lemony constantly reassures the editor that nobody would be depressed enough to read about the Baudelaire orphans and that the books should be shelved at once. This echoes real-life events: Charlotte Sheedy is the person who encouraged Daniel Handler to write children’s literature. He first answered that nobody would like the grim, horrible things he wanted to write for children, but she insisted… The rest is history.
B&W: How did you originally pitch A Series of Unfortunate Events?
DH: I pitched it unprofessionally. I called the editor and I said “Look, I have a really terrible idea for children’s books. So don’t make me write it down—I can’t behave professionally about it because it’s such a terrible idea—but I’ll meet you at a bar and then I’ll tell you the idea and then you’ll say yes, that’s terrible, and then at least we’ll be at a bar and we’ll have another drink and it won’t be a complete waste for everyone. And so she met me at a bar. And then she said that she liked it.
[The Kids Aren’t All Right: A Conversation With Daniel Handler, Bwog Staff, 3rd of September 2014 (Link)]
Update, 2nd of July 2016:
Daniel Handler recently covered the question in a Q&A (Link). It seems I mistook his agent (Charlotte Sheedy) with his editor (Susan Rich).
Q: Can you reveal anything about Mr. Snicket’s ‘Kind Editor’, or any other kind editors you yourself have known?
A: Being an editor is largely a thankless business, but I try to thank Susan Rich as often as I can.