It’s been a while since I’ve written about Medium. I don’t like to do it. It feels like complaining and I don’t like to complain. I prefer to write and read stories.
But, I’m also the editor of The Junction, a publication here on Medium. Last week, Michael Sippey from Medium sent an email to publication owners saying there would be some changes to the way publications work:
As of February 5th, you will no longer be able to request a story on Medium to be added to your publication. You will still be able to add writers and editors to your publication, and those writers and editors can submit draft stories for you to review, edit, and publish.
We’re making this change to simplify how publications and writers work together on Medium. We want to alleviate confusion we’ve heard from writers about how “request a story” works, and what it means to have their stories included in a publication. Our goal is to help publications build stronger connections with the writers they work with, and, in turn, publish even better stories for readers.
All this does is make my life more difficult. When I started The Junction, I wanted it to function differently from your typical publication. Rather than copying the dysfunctional submission system of the publishing industry, I wanted to do something unique.
Namely, I wanted to curate high quality stories that I found on this platform, hidden away in the nooks and crannies, far away from clickbait, listicles, politics, and tech writing that make up much of the featured content on here. I’m interested in stories, not just writing about how to write stories. The Junction looks for the best fiction, short stories, poetry, humor, memoir, and essays that Medium has to offer.
Before, if I found something I thought would be perfect for The Junction, I would request to add it to the publication. Medium supplied a boilerplate message to the writer but if it was my first time requesting a story, I would usually add a personal note explaining why I wanted to feature their work. It was quick, it was simple, and it helped give The Junction the unique style and voice that it has today.
Now that ability is gone for good. I fail to see how eliminating an essential tool for publications to reach out to potential writers simplifies the process. If anything, it’s made it that much harder. Now, if there is an already published piece I would like to add to my publication, I need to send a private note to the writer, explain everything within a character limit, and then hope for the best. It’s needlessly convoluted.
Because of this change, I’ve had to do something I long resisted doing: create submission guidelines. Perhaps for some, it’s overdue. As The Junction has grown, more and more potential writers have reached out to me via email to ask about contributing. One reason I resisted creating guidelines in the first place is my fear of becoming overwhelmed with submissions. After all, managing a publication is a hobby. I have outside interests, a job, a life. Oh, and I write a lot too.
Still, I love The Junction and Medium and the close-knit community here. Running this publication is a passion project for me. I want to continue to champion the arts, fiction writers and poets, the invisible and unheard—especially since Medium seems uninterested in giving a wider exposure to actual creative writing.
It’s a shame, really. I’ve said it before but it bears repeating:
Medium could be one of the preeminent online destinations for fiction and poetry. If only they’d show it.