Why creators should hire their own “boss”
What do solo media professionals such as YouTubers, podcasters or writers miss without an editor, and how the overprotective culture will ruin most of them
Maxwell Perkins was not exactly famous. Ok, the very notion of “famous” is a complicated one, but even in his own epoch and métier, Perkins wasn’t well-known and exalted as his boys Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Wolfe. For one thing, he wasn’t a writer, he was a book editor — yes, he’s that guy from the movie Genius (2016) — , and secondly, Perkins, while a major literary figure, always practiced what he preached: book editors should remain invisible.
But what would this fame equation look like if we applied some creative reverse engineering? Hemingway, Fitzgerald and Wolfe would be eternally “visible” without Perkins? Would The Great Gatsby be brilliant as it turned out to be? Would Look Homeward, Angel ever see the light of day? “An editor creates nothing,” Perkins used to say.
Interesting choice of words, Max. From the mid-2000s onwards, a lot of media professionals (and a few amateurs) decided to “create something,” to become “creators,” which is the trendy term for trying a solo career in the search for audience, relevance, and money. They once were photographers, designers, journalists, jobless, but now they create under the titles of YouTubers, podcasters, TikTokers or simply “influencers,” a label they love to pretend to hate.
Some have succeeded beyond expectations, but for each Peter McKinnon, each Burak Özdemir who thrived in a solo career, there are millions that failed relentlessly — literally. Considering only YouTube, there are over 30 million channels on the platform, and less than 100,000 of them (0,003%) have more than 1,000 subscribers.
This phenomenon is not limited to YouTube, evidently. From the 2005 blogs that grew into solid media companies, such as Huffington Post and TechCrunch, to the most successful and popular podcasts of 2020, all these “new” mediums became the new (media) normal. In the last few months alone, several journalists and writers, such as Casey Newton (The Verge) and Glenn Greenwald (The Intercept), chose to launch their own indie-style publications rather…