Want to Succeed in Online Publishing? Stop Waiting for a Handout.
Forget fairness, succeeding as a writer is a lot of hard work and a little bit of luck.
Nine months of almost-daily participation in online writing groups has shown me a pattern in the topics that come up for discussion on a regular basis. Two of the most common are the questions with easy Google-able answers (that’s just the nature of social media) and the complaints about the system.
People spend an inordinate amount of time online trying to crack the code. You know the one, the magic formula that will make us the next big thing. Complaints about enforcement of terms of service, changes to algorithms, and how platforms choose to function abound.
Recently, a complaint came up about some daily digest emails from a couple of larger publications. Seven articles from the same writer had appeared that day, and the person wondered how the policy of the publications was fair. How was it allowing new writers a voice on the platform? How were people supposed to find their writing if they never got featured? How was any of this fair?
An implication quickly blossomed that it is someone else’s job to make sure we all have a fair shot.
The comments became a cacophony of accusations of unfairness and inequality. An implication blossomed that it is someone else’s job to make sure we all have a fair shot. That by doing business the way they do, these publications were doing something to harm us as writers. As I read, I began to feel like I was back in elementary school where participation is the goal and skill and quality take second chair. I had questions.
How would it benefit a platform to give all users equal air time?
In short, it wouldn’t. I suppose it might help to draw new participants and creators to that platform, but the bottom line is that websites like Medium, Elephant Journal, Buzzfeed, and Mamamia are all businesses. Sure, you can self-publish, but when it comes down to what they choose to feature, they’re looking for views and exposure. Sharing content created by people who have already proven…