Q & A : New Medium Membership Paywall

Confusion In Search of Clarity

Dear Medium and Ev Williams

Last evening, as did many others, I received a ‘personalised’ open letter from Ev Williams, wrapped in an invitation to be among the first of a select initial group of potential ‘founder members’ of the new paywall Medium.

Off the bat I have to express my gratitude to Medium Staff and editors for their consistent support in showcasing and profiling not only my own writing, (not least for adding SOFT AIR Series to today’s EDITOR PICKS), but for those who have begun to shape the voice of Literati Magazine.

I too have to express immense gratitude to all Literati Magazine writers, contributors and followers, along with my own.

Here’s the thing: With no prior notification or time for a real viable Q & A about Medium ‘s forthcoming plans, we’re ALL (those of us who are not major names or publications) now pretty much stuck between a rock and a hard place, primarily, it has to be said, for the lack of information regarding how this roll out will affect writers and publishers of the smaller publications.

On reading your email Ev Williams, I replied to the membership email address given in your missive; and I include it here

Dear Ev,

My thanks for your consideration. As an independent writer publisher and reader on Medium how does this work exactly ?

Are you rolling out reader / writer and publisher memberships separately and if so, how are new small independent publications like Literati Magazine, which is based in Europe and not the US, affected ?

Your paid membership offering for publishers pitched at high viewership turnover / followers — where does a person like myself stand in the scope of your new paywall offering?

I moved to Medium because it seemed to have heart and vision. Momentarily I am none the wiser really as to where the important work Literati Magazine is forging in partnership with a growing pool of excellent and organisations like PENAmerica, stands in the scheme of your planned membership roll outs.

I’d be loathe to sign for one kind of membership to discover it locks me out of others. Some comprehensive overview would be appreciated, so I might make choices to best serve the purpose of Literati Magazine, its growing pool of partners, its writers and its Medium readers.

I very much look forward to a further exchange.

Very best wishes,


My issue if not the 5 dollars a month being asked for reader membership per se: I have an issue with the roll out occurring with no opportunity for clarity : Not clarity on the offering, but on where this puts independent writers and publishers who may opt out of the reader membership.

  • What if a writer can’t submit to a publication because they have opted out of the reader membership?
  • Are writers going to be invited to become writer members?
  • Are writers who publish their own work in their own small medium publications going to be downgraded in some way without being a reader member?

What are the different tiers of membership; are there any?

As things stand, Medium has offered a certain group of publications who match initial criteria, the option to offer their own reader membership… now readers / writers and publishers all have to pay for reader membership to have access and once they are reader members, to have full access to other magazine content, a further membership paywall needs to be accessed :

  • Where do the writers fit in to all this?

Yes, I read the membership fees will go to paying a certain tier of writer/contributor… but then here, there is a further question of the curating of content by specialists, mentioned by Ev in the email.

  • Who are these specialists and by what criteria will they be selecting given content’ when and how will writers/contributors be told what this might involve and how their writing on Medium will be affected?
  • If I opt in for reader membership now, how does this affect the status of Literati Magazine?
  • Writers who submit who might choose not to buy into readership, will their access to magazines be penalised by the paywall?

I am not going to touch the issue of compensation from these various levels of paywall membership entries, which brings a host of its own questions.

It would have been cool, seriously cool, had we had fore-warning of the pending reader paywall along with a comprehensive explanation as to how it would affect the writer / publisher who are readers too.

I get that you wish to give away as little publicly as possible as these things are rolled out, but leaving your core body value, comprising some of the best writing talent around, in the dark and left to either pay for ‘readership’ or be left out, tends to lead to more than mere disappointment and indignation.

Waking up to a wall, without warning, seriously isn’t cool!

All I have is confusion seeking clarity and I am sure I am not the only one.

I would hate to leave Medium, as I know others are loathe to consider; leaving us in the dark without consideration of the choices available and no information as to the implications of plans here on Medium, makes it tough to see how we might be seriously valued, outside of being part of the high volume mainstream content makers.

I like make informed choices. I loathe being pushed into blind decision-making, so I respectfully request some engagement here, beyond a description of the reader membership service offering.

I am happy to invest in my readership and writers on Medium, however, as I am sure can be understood, I reasonably need to know I’d be choosing to do so for the right reasons and know what it involves.

Anyone else seeking clarity ?

SF Ali, alto, Jason Stelzner, Wild Flower, Tamyka Bell, Crooked Little Flower, Zelda Pinwheel, marika bianca, Nina Szarka, Sara Benincasa, Vince, Vanessa Praça-Correa, Jake Fuentes, Notorious DCI, Kate Lee, Shaunta Grimes, ePeak, BHD, Jake Fuentes, Varun Chopra, Zac Chapepa, Rachel Thompson, Molly Campbell, Sean Howard, Mirah Curzer, Eric Taubert, augustkhalilibrahim, Shahzeb Akhter, Sherry Kappel, Ré Harris, Rebecca Marie, Michael Ramsburg, Michael Benoist, Michael McQuarrie, Patrick Faller, Paul Brookes, Kevin Acott, Angiest In Seattle, Carl Safina, Nick McGuire, Sally O'Dowd, Brian Culley, Christopher Raley, C. Duhnne, Ben Freeland, K.E. Kimball, Richard Subber, walkerjo lee, Elizabeth Kiem, JONI BERGER, zeke woollett, Jackie Williams, Robert Cormack, Garnet, Menkeroth, A. Sethi, Tahlia Calvisi, Olivia Wolfe, Anna Breslin, Cristian Randieri, Phd, Alya, Stephen M. Tomic, Stefon Napier, blaine steele, David Moser, Michelle Monet, Little Fears, Teri Peters, Hevedar Yousif, Eric Taubert, Wendy Diamond, Allan Ishac, Immanuel R. Knight, Abbie, Amy Sterling Casil, Vito Pasquale, Giulia Blasi … I’d address everyone else too…

In light of the overwhelming support please find further commentary in my follow up article

Thanks for your time and attention.