Medium Further Kicks Their Loyal Writers

I smell a rat, and yes, this probably will sound like sour grapes, but still, I am sure more of you will relate. What has got me hot under the collar is the Medium writing prompts. 

Two months ago, Medium released four writing prompts – Death, Space, Work and Reentry for those who don’t know. At the time, I was suspicious these were for personal essays, something I suck at, but still, I was determined to make them work for me. So I wrote four articles around the theme, putting my crime spin on three. The other being a personal essay about my daughter. 

This week the winners were announced, and although each winner was brilliant, they all had something else in common. Not one of them at the time of winning had more than 750 followers. The winner of the grand prize had just 36 followers. 

The justification for the choices spoke volumes. Read what Medium says about them. My gut feeling was right; they mentioned nothing but personal stories. 

What is the rationale for rewarding someone who has written two stories for Medium with the top prize? Especially when the first story they wrote was the entry piece. Would it not have been a better business model to reward some writers who have stuck with Medium, bringing in regular readers daily. 

It seems a little strange for a new writer with no experience of Medium to win, or am I wrong? Was this a ploy to get more content creation on Medium, and the prizes were always going to an outside professional writer? 

Personally, I am not that bitter. I enjoyed writing and researching my four articles and am very proud of my reentry article about my little girl. 

The loss has also energised me to rethink my journey. I will spend more time developing my Crime Team on Patreon, offering quality crime articles you can’t read anywhere else. I also have a fun new project in the wings taking my true crime onto a new platform in a different direction – watch this space. 

Sadly Is Traditional Publishing Becoming a Thing of the Past

Over the last couple of months, I have been querying publishers and agents for my crime novel. Although I have published several books myself, I wanted to try a more traditional route for this book. It is the old story about the grass seeming greener somewhere else. Also, there is a certain amount of snobbery with writing. Are you a published author if you are self-publishing?

Every week without fail, I query one agent or publishing house, but I have started to see some surprising trends. With my copy of Artists and Writers, I have been working my way through the lists of those that would be suitable for my book. The first shock was that 90 per cent of those listed have either closed their doors to submissions or closed their doors altogether. It appears that publishing might be another casualty of the pandemic. So many publishing houses have disappeared from the market, except for the huge houses that are less likely to take on a new writer.

Where then does this leave writers?

I am determined not to give up on this journey and will keep querying until I can paper the wall with rejection letters. There is, however, many an hour when I wonder if self-publishing would be easier. 

Self-publishing for any writer should never be considered the easy option regarding the work it takes; it is, however, the easy option as you control all aspects of the production yourself. You are not waiting for someone to get back to you or do the additional work. You can work at your speed. You also have complete control over every aspect of the book, from cover to title.

Some would say that you don’t have to advertise with traditional publishing, but you do with self-publishing. The market has changed over the years, and both publishing methods rely on you marketing the book, so this should not be your deciding factor.

If publishers are shutting their doors and refusing unsolicited manuscripts, this makes the business even harder for a new writer to enter. With this, then self-publishing will increase, and the market may become saturated. It is also worth mentioning that many self-published books are written on a tight budget; editing is not always a cheap option to pay for. Your real fans may forgive errors; others will not.

How to self publish well

So how do you make a self-published book as professional as possible? First, I would say do what your budget allows you. If you can afford a professional editor, hire one; if not, find a friend who would be happy to read your work. If you can afford someone to design a cover, then ask them, although you may have skills in this yourself. This is an area that I have grown more comfortable with through the books I have published.

Many different packages can help with either of these tasks. Canva is brilliant for cover design, and the least you should be doing is run your manuscript through Grammarly or a similar program. Once you have the written work as polished as possible, it is time to decide how to publish it. For me, there is one easy option, and that is through Amazon Kindle; the create program is easy to navigate and sets the manuscript to all the correct parameters to be able to publish in both paperback and eBook format. The other advantage of Kindle is it allows paperbacks to be printed as people request them, so there is no initial outlay to the writer.

Will traditional publishing survive.

There will always be a need for traditional publishing. However, I wonder if it will be a significantly reduced market. EBook readers are ever more popular, and traditional publishers have no advantage over self-publishing in these markets. This could be one of the reasons so many of them have shut their doors. 

As a writer, I have mixed feelings about the rise of self-publishing; the positives are that it levels the playing field, the negatives the market may become saturated. 

However, as a reader, I am horrified at the thought of a reduction in traditional publishing. I am very much a book in hand person and would hate paperbacks not to exist and be replaced by yet another electronic gadget.

Which do you prefer, a physical copy of a book or an electronic?

Waking Up and Finding Out Your Favourite Writing Platform has Closed

If you are a content writer, I want to bet you write on several platforms, not just this one, but do your followers know where else to find you?

Imagine the scenario you wake up one morning and your favourite platform has shut down. Although not likely, any one of the third-party platforms you write for could do this; Medium, Newsbreak, Ko-fi, they could all decide to shut up shop. Are you sweating yet? Scares the hell out of me.

There will always be dedicated fans that follow you everywhere, but what about the other readers who pop in occasionally to read your stuff. Would they know where to follow you? I have over four thousand followers on Medium, and I’m sure that not all of them follow me elsewhere.

Sure, you might say I have an email list, brilliant, but how many people have signed up for it. Not everyone.

The solution is simple but relies on your followers wanting to safeguard you as a writer they like.

Tell them where else you write, and offer them a free option.

You can’t expect everyone to want to pay for a subscription to your work. Not when readers have a subscription to Medium and can read there. However, if Medium disappeared, they might subscribe then. This is why a free option is essential. 

You can follow people on Ko-fi without paying extra. Vocal Media now has a follow function and so, of course, do Facebook and Twitter. You can even turn the updates off on these, but you know where to find the writers if you need to. Did you know even Patreon has a free service? You can follow your favourite writers for free; sure, you only get access to their public content, but I, for one, make announcements about my writing publically. 

In summary, although I think it is unlikely that these platforms would close their doors, it isn’t impossible to maintain your readers, follow these three easy steps.

  • Write elsewhere, don’t just stick to one platform.
  • Offer a free service where readers can follow you.
  • Tell your followers where else they can find you regularly.

Here is where you can find me

Medium is the main platform I write on. I share true crime, parenting, writing tips and pretty much everything else.

If you are a true crime fan, you can also find my articles in three different places. First, I have a Facebook Group called Crime Team for crime articles from various sources and chat. Second, my newsletter offers updates and articles every week. Finally, if you want to support my writing and gain exclusive books and merchandise, you can join the Crime Team on Patreon.

However, if it is my other articles you enjoy, such as my parenting stories, you can find all these and many more on my Ko-fi.

Finally, I have two Twitter profiles, one for my everyday writing, views and chat and one for parenting my daughter with ASD.

If you do not have a Medium membership then please consider clicking this link, where I make a little commission.