How a Lack of Patience Has Been Costing Me Thousands of Potential Readers Here On Medium
From the time I arrived here on Medium and committed myself to taking writing seriously, In April of 2017 — I’ve been pretty lucky.
The writing Gods saw to it, that I discovered the publication The Ascent, almost as soon as I showed up. As I browsed through and read various articles they published, though I had no idea what I was doing or how any of this worked, I knew I had found a home for my writing.
Not only that but I had a great collection of writers there to learn from, before fully immersing myself into this platform and it’s seemingly endless number of publications. I read countless articles, both on the Ascent and elsewhere. I took mental notes of popular tags, writers and just general tricks of the trade.
I began browsing through the submission guidelines for various publications and then first applied as a writer, to the one I felt made the most sense for the kind of stories I planned on publishing — The Ascent.
What I found so fitting and attractive about their publication was it’s message. They were and still very much are, simply encouraging folks to document their journey and share it. Which is the exact kind of writing I wanted to be doing and dive further into.
Steve Campbell and Melissa Berdine were gracious enough to accept the very first post I ever submitted to them and believe it or not, it actually got a decent amount of feedback and reads, considering it was basically my first day here.
I know some of you are probably wondering when I’m going to get to the part about a lack of patience costing me thousands of potential viewers — bear with me. After all, this post is about patience, so unlike myself, please try and have some. I promise I’m getting there.
I don’t know if Steve or Melissa remember or not but I had a strange submission and editing process when I first began submitting my work to them. Essentially, I was so excited to publish my posts after writing them, I often would publish then submit it to them, before even really editing.
I mean sure, I gave it a quick once over before I sent my ship sailing — but apparently not a very solid one because what I’d end up doing was making a million edits, a few at a time, after I had already published my story but yet before it was or wasn’t accepted by the editors.
By the way, pay special attention to the words and their order, in bold lettering above. They’re going to play an extremely vital part in this story.
Also, see if you can spot what’s wrong with them. Because if you can’t and you write and submit your work to publications here regularly, you could be making the same mistake I have been for the last year and three months.
As kind and as understanding as Steve and Melissa are, they never gave me a hard time about it. Although I think at some point Steve did try and tell me I should be submitting my stories as drafts, I think he kind of just got me and understood it was my prerogative and obsession, to get stories published as soon as possible, after they were finished. He rolled with the punches and for that I’m grateful.
Pretty quickly, I built a decent following and readership here on Medium. I began expanding and reaching out to editors of basically any publication, to which I thought my writing fit or felt I could be an asset to.
Almost to my surprise, I was accepted left and right, to those I applied to.
Just now, out of curiosity, I counted how many publications I’m a writer for. 33 different publications have been so kind and gracious enough to accept and add me as a writer, I find that truly humbling. If I’m being honest, I didn’t even know a few of them added me as a writer, until just now.
I was doing really well here on Medium and the positive feedback and reactions my stories were getting kept me writing and coming back for more. Eventually though, there came a point where I felt certain posts of mine, weren’t getting the amount of exposure, so many other writers and posts were. Stories from writers who wrote for the same publications I did and I had just as many followers as, were blowing mine out of the water.
I could not wrap my mind around why or what was going on and if I’m being honest, I basically blamed Medium as a platform for my woes. Not the readers or writers, but the people behind the curtain. It became really frustrating.
Fast forward all the way up to earlier today, after I submitted a story I wrote to Lit Up. I immediately realized, I followed my usual publish then submit process, without even meaning to and then remembered they ask if all submissions are sent as drafts. As a professional courtesy and because it felt like the right thing to do, I sent Lit Up’s wonderful editor DiAmaya Dawn a DM on Twitter and explained what happened. She was understanding and asked if I’d mind re-submitting it as a draft, so we didn’t lose viewers on it. I immediately did so.
But wait a minute? What ever did she mean? Well, rather then guess or act like I knew what she meant, I simply asked if she could explain — and she did.
She so kindly informed me, that as she understands it, when someone follows my publish then submit format, those stories don’t appear on the homepage of readers who follow that publication. It only appears in the feeds of those who follow me, or those who visit the actual landing page of the publication.
Basically, without trying to, she helped me solve a mystery I’ve been wrestling with for the better part of an entire year. My mind was completely blown and I’ve never felt so foolish and relieved at the same time. It finally made sense.
Perhaps some of you are wondering why I’ve always gone about publishing my stories first, before submitting them to my publication of choice. Well, I have an ugly and embarrassing confession to make — I’m the most impatient person you’ll ever meet. I’m all about the immediate gratification.
I’ve blindly followed this ass backwards and very distorted process of mine, because I want the stories I write today to be accepted and published yesterday. Apparently, I just can’t wait the very short time period it takes an editor to accept and publish a story I’ve sent, before blessing the world of Medium with my words. And boy, has that mistake cost me dearly.
While there’s no way of saying for sure how many views or readers this shallow and childish like mistake of mine has cost me, it no doubt has to be in the thousands. In fact, I may have missed out on thousands of readers on single stories I’ve sent to publications like The Startup, Hackernoon and Thrive Global.
I mean, these are some of the most popular publications on Medium. They have hundreds of thousands of followers. Thrive Global was started by Arianna Huffington for God’s sake.
All I know, is I’m beyond grateful to Dawn for helping me realize what I was doing wrong. I’m not suggesting this simple change in routine will solve all of my woes and put an end to all of my frustrations with Medium as a platform or make all of my writing dreams come true — but it’s a start.
And for the record, this is the first story I’m sending to The Ascent, where I’ll have actually followed proper protocol. Who says you can’t teach an impatient dog new tricks?