Your Questions Answered

This Week In Writing, we recap a successful Medium Day and address some of the questions I didn’t have time to answer.

Your Questions Answered
Photo by Simon Hurry / Unsplash

Medium Day was on Saturday. Going in, I honestly didn't know what to expect. Regardless of who showed up to my session, I knew I'd have fun. At the peak of my 30-minute session, 180 people were on the stream! I was blown away.

The session was a whirlwind and a ton of fun. It was recorded and should be shared by Medium soon. When I get it, I'll be sure to link it out for all of you.

During the session, I answered SO many questions about everything from writing on Medium to what I look for in a high-quality submission. When the video is available, you'll get to see those answers.

There were also a bunch of questions I couldn't get to because we ran out of time. So, I went back into the system, copied all the unanswered questions from my session's Q&A feed, and answered them all below.

Thank you to everyone who came out and made Medium Day a success!

Your Questions Answered

Being curious here, have you ever had medical writers submitting articles about medical writing? And if yes, what sort of topics? -Anita

I can't say that I have, but I would be intrigued. When writers leverage their experience in other fields or uncommon forms of writing, I usually enjoy the result.

The notion of "good writer" is very subjective - but I still would like to ask - how do you know you have what it takes to be a writer (skills vs talent). I.e. Everyone can't be on AGT or The Voice - but most people think they can sing. Are there definitive checks for that or even tips on determing where you land on the scale of writer vs. hobbyist/dreamer? -Dee

The only way to know is to get out there, start writing, and see what happens. That's kind of the whole point of my book. It begins with the notion that you are a writer and accepting it no matter what.

Is it true that articles longer than 7-10 minutes are discouraged, and not read as much? This seems restrictive for someone like me, who writes creative nonfiction (memoir). -Daniel

I don't think that's true. I don't accept many memoirs since that's not our focus, but I don't believe Medium has any restrictions on length. There is some much older advice about data points showing a seven-minute read is the most widely read length, but I can't tell you if that's still accurate now.

Can you speak to our "topics" to list on our pieces? -Alison

I have a guide in the submission rules on how to use tags. Bottom line, include at least one of the fifty or so main Medium topics and then get much more granular and unique based on your piece.

Hi Justin, thanks for your suggestions. If I begin a new publication on Medium, will I receive any direct monetary compensation from Medium? -Krishnan

There is no monetization process for publication owners outside of being invited to the boost nomination beta. All of the publication work is done out of passion and dedication to the community.

Is it a good idea to pull and rewrite older stories that didn't get much attention but have potential? -Liz

It's up to you. There was a time when I tried it out, but it got to be too time-consuming without any real payoff. Plus, my older stories tend to do well in the partner program, so things tend to bubble up over time.

CNET recently deleted thousands of old articles to "improve" their SEO rankings. Was it worth it? Who really knows?

What's one piece of advice you would give to someone brand new to Medium? -Lee

Find your community. Engage with other writers. Invest in the platform as a member. Beyond that, I also have a guide for new writers on the platform.

what is the future plans for writing cooperative? Would it be possible to have slack channel to connect to other writers -Shwetha

We have a Discord group. You can find details at My Writing Community.

Can you share any personal experiences or success stories from your own Medium journey that might inspire new writers? -Jenn

After nearly a decade on the platform, I have over 100k followers and a fantastic community of fellow writers who I engage with regularly. It takes time, but it's been a fun process.

For a new Medium writer, do you recommend sticking to one general subject or theme to build credibility or does diversity in your writing help more in the beginning? -Michaela

I think it's up to you and your goals. I can't stick to one topic (though, anymore due to time constraints, it usually ties back into writing somehow). But I've never been a one-niche guy. Find what works for you.

As a writer, where do you get inspiration for what to write about? How do keep up your creative and productivity flow going and keeps the quality consisstent? -Temitope

I wrote about that recently. I'm inspired by the world around me. I'll read something or watch something, and it'll get me thinking. That's usually where things start.

Does Writing cooperative have space for articles that connect separate fields such as writing + technology? -Pen


You may have answered this before I hopped on - but how approximatley how many articles do you publish per week in TWC? -Lori

Typically 3-5 per day.

Do you accept short stories (fiction) or poetry? -Sarah


What if I published the story before on Medium, Is it still eligiblee for the Writers' Cooperative and/or boosting? -Charles

No, we only accept unpublished drafts into the publication. The reason for this lies in how Medium handles publishing dates. New submissions are added to the publication's timeline based on the published date/time, not the acceptance date/time. So, accepting anything already published means the story will likely not show up on the homepage and is of no benefit to the writer.

do you give any feedback - reasons for rejection? -Kristin

I try to leave a private note on all rejections, though it tends to be pretty short. If something I think has solid potential to come back with edits or tweaks, then I will address it accordingly.

Why do you think the Boost curators rejected 25% of your nominations? Thx Justin! -Marmi

Most of them were early on while I was learning what the curators were looking for. Sometimes there's something that I really like, but I don't necessarily think the curators will bite, but I submit it anyway to see what happens.

What sorts of articles are you seeking? -Tom

It's clearly defined in our rules. We're looking for anything that helps writers grow.

Can you give submissions on books already published say on Amazon or Barnes & Noble? -Laura

Laura, I'm not really sure what you're asking here. We don't tend to publish book reviews or anything of that nature.

Tried running a publication - burned out fast trying to help everyone - suggestions on how to manage that insane workload without staff -Liz

It's not easy, I'll tell you that. It's part of why I'm very clear about the timelines and rules for the publication. It helps set my boundaries and manage my time.

How do you submit to the Writing Cooperative? -Deborah

Our rules are right on the homepage where is says Write For Us.

Hi Justin: Thanks for your time today. I've had a couple of articles published on The Writing Cooperative in the past, and it's nice to see your face! I'm wondering if you can talk about particular submissions/topics that were particularly compelling to you. -Alisa

As I mentioned in the session, I'm fond of unique takes. It's not about a specific topic and more about the voice of the piece and whether it is something new or interesting.

When writing about such personal experiences for the sake of authenticity, we might choose to give away information about ourselves that warrants the use of a pen name - will having a pen name prevent being published on the writing cooperative? -Charelle

Pen names are fine with the publication. Typically, I don't even see the writer's name when reviewing a submission. It doesn't show up anywhere in the Editor.

Newbie here, HOW does one submit to any publication? How as in what does one click on? I can find the submission guidelines for any publication but none tell me specifically how to do it. -Anonymous

Once you've been added as a writer to the publication, hit he ... button in the editor and select "Add to Publication." I explain it in a little more detail in the submission guide.

Why do you use Substack and not Medium's newsletter feature? -Becky

Medium's newsletter feature for publication is fine, but it's really nothing more than a glorified article. There aren't any additional features, layout options, or audience management tools. Which, that's entirely fine. Medium isn't an email platform. Substack provides these tools, but then you have to deal with Substack. Honestly, it's not my favorite. It's why I've built out Ghost, preparing for an eventual conversion.

Will you start promoting WC stories on Mastodon like you did on Twitter? -Sam

Maybe? While I'm loving Mastodon for my personal use, I haven't really decided what I want to do with the Writing Cooperative account.

Wow. That was a lot of questions, and those were only the ones we ran out of time for during the session! If there are still unanswered questions out there, reach out, and I'll do my best to respond.

Programming Note

My home renovation began yesterday, so I'm basically couch-surfing for an indeterminate amount of time. I can't exactly move back in until all the flooring and baseboards are installed, and I don't control the timeline. So, I might take a week or two off from writing. Maybe. We'll see what happens.