Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about disintermediation. Mostly, I suppose, because it’s such an excellent word.
(If I ever manage to spell it out in a Scrabble tournament I think I’ll retire and ride the wave of renown all the way to the bank.)
If you’re an aspiring writer, chances are you’ve been thinking about it also, and just didn’t realize. It came up for me, as I’ve recently been asked to fill in as a tutor for a university course on publishing. One of the key concepts in the course so far has been the recent change in media distribution. Today, of course, it’s possible to write a book and use online platforms to print and distribute it to any manner of public. That’s disintermediation: you could call it cutting out the middleman (or middlewoman) if you didn’t care about winning at word games.
My parents and my sister have embraced this approach, and now they have created and distributed a number of extraordinary books.. My sister’s story from primary school, How the Seahorse Lost its Rider, now exists as an illustrated children’s book that she can read to her own daughter.
My mum has written beautiful essays about the rare local rainforest, and my dad, a keen photographer, has added his original photos. You can find it at the counter of their nearby botanical gardens. Or you can walk down the street to the local café and find a book of their interviews with colorful local characters.
If you’re really lucky, you’ll be invited for a cup of tea and to peruse the self-indulgent book of our wedding that my wife and I created together and published for an audience of about six people.
At the same time, I find myself working with writers who are using digital platforms as a way to engage with the thousands upon thousands of people around the world who use e-readers or online journals.
This is an exciting time, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it. Nowadays, without needing the go-ahead or financing of large publishing houses, the dream of contributing something beautiful or thoughtful to the world is a possibility.
Now, this wouldn’t be a proper WordsRU blog post if I didn’t put the case forward for using an editing service, and I think it’s a good one….
Most of the literature we’re used to reading (be it classic novels, recent bestsellers, or even local newspapers) will have gone through several people and many revisions. As a writer, no matter how accomplished, you can have blind spots about your own material, or know so much about a topic that you forget to explain certain things. Editors have worked with hundreds of manuscripts and essays, and will know the common pitfalls from simple grammar to complex issues of continuity. They’re also able to play the role of a reader, and can flag questions the readers might have or areas of interest that have not yet been tapped.
My point is that in an era of disintermediation it’s possible to bring so much more into the world—but with great freedom comes great responsibility, as the saying goes. I think we are all responsible for using our words in the best way and to bring about interesting, well written, and engaging writing, whatever our public. Sometimes, our writing will outlast us, and will be a gift for the next generation.
WordsRU is proud to have a team of editors who are passionate about language and the possibilities for communication in all its forms. I feel that this makes us the one intermediary worth turning to as you explore all possibilities of your own expression in the changing era of publishing.
Also, for what it’s worth, intermediary is still a pretty impressive Scrabble word.