An author dynamic I’m wondering about on Medium

I’ve had five authors email me with essentially the same question.

Now that I can make one of my articles Member’s only, should I just do that and submit it to your publication?

That gets at a subtlety that was easy to miss. Medium is starting to roll out a pay-for-performance system for anyone to submit articles to their subscription service.

The subtlety is that if you publish outside of a publication, then the payment goes directly to the author. But if you publish within a publication, the payment goes to the publication.

That means, if you want to submit to a publication and get paid for it, you need to work out payment terms with the publication first. Technically, the publication doesn’t have to pay you anything.

And this is an author/publication dynamic that’s going to take awhile to play out.

Our immediate answer is that nothing changes. We have a budget that allows us to pay $500 per article. We’re going to keep paying that flat rate.

What I don’t know yet is whether we are underpaying or overpaying as compared to authors just publishing on their own. As a publisher, I hope we’re overpaying.

What is also going to be hard to tell is how much value we’re giving as a publication. Obviously, being in a large publication will help the performance of your piece. So it’s right and fair for there to be a revenue split.

But there’s also a marketplace dynamic. What is going to happen if a publication says they’ll pay the full amount to their authors? Will that force every other publication to follow along? That could be a savvy strategy for a publication focused on growth first. Once they’re bigger they’ll have more leverage on final terms.

Written by

Human potential busy body. Founded @coachdotme, @bttrHumans, @bttrMarketing. Helped @medium @calm. Current work focus: Habit Coach Certification.

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