About seven months ago, I began searching for articles indicating to me whether Medium was an appropriate place for me to be publishing my short fiction. I found a number of articles on — you guessed it — Medium telling me that this was a great idea either to get a fresh, new audience or to monetize that which I already had a healthy backlog of.
I had been writing short fiction on and off for about five years to a modest following of a couple thousand consistent readers, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to share with a new audience. Boy was I wrong.
Perhaps my writing is a lot more awful than I give it credit for, or perhaps I never hit the right audience, but it’s much harder to put yourself out there on this site than other spaces on the web. My success as a writer has manifested through Reddit and Instagram where I’ve gained a collective following of 14k+ readers and still growing. I was even able to run a successful Kickstarter with my following. But my readers did not want to migrate here, and those existing here did not care for short fiction.
I’m here to be the counter-article that hopefully shows up to inform you that if you want to get started in a career in short fiction, then Medium is not the way to go. It will waste your time, your reach will be severely limited, and your success will be contingent on you interacting with others rather than the merit or frequency of your work.
I gave it a genuine shot. I released a series of 50 stories over a span of six months. I followed other writers. I reached out to publications. All of it was not worth the effort put in. My readers were few and far in between and feedback with minimal, if at all available. Did I gain any followers? Yep, seven whole followers.
It’s not worth your time.
Medium is not known for its fiction spaces. They exist, yes, you can find plenty of stories under the Fiction topic on Medium, but they’re under publications. What’s wrong with publications? Well, for most free-form writers, every limitation. A lot of them will limit you to 500–1000 words. This is understandable, as most of them will read every submitted story before approving it and anything longer than that would eat up a significant amount of time for the number of submissions they likely receive. But… I want to write more than 1000 words for my stories. I don’t want to remove my work to fit in someone else’s publication. I want to write anything, not be locked into the genre of the publication. I want my own following, not to be attached to something else. I sincerely don’t see that being possible on Medium. It may be with hours of work put into really fitting into a niche group that enjoys your style and genre but…
It’s not worth your time.
There’s no way to reach a genuine audience outside of the publications. Adding tags to your stories does not succeed in reaching a larger audience on your own. Not like hashtags on Instagram. There’s no popular post that you can use to get your work out there. Not like on Reddit. You have to put so much more effort in to get so much less return.
If you want to give fiction writing a genuine try, I’m imploring you to steer clear from here. Medium is a fantastic place to find articles or a surprising amount of code samples, but it’s not your place for short fiction. Microfiction has an audience for you. But it’s not on Medium.
As for my continuation on this platform, I’ll occasionally write articles I think would be worthwhile for small-time authors like myself, but my short stories will live elsewhere. There’s plenty to share in terms of how to gain a following on Instagram or how I grew on Reddit. I won’t be writing any more meta-articles on Medium. Especially when it can be summed up in one sentence:
It’s not worth my time.