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Sorry! The Shortform Is Closed For New Writers

  • 8 min read

with FAQ about the present and the future of publications.

The Shortform is my favorite publication on Medium.

It has been a game-changer on my writing journey.

This publication was one of the first I submitted my pieces to when I started writing on Medium back in December 2020.

Moreover, in October 2021, the owner Tom Fenske asked me to join his pub as a co-editor and community manager.

My job is to answer questions from the community and add new writers.

Now, 16 months later, it has crossed the 4K followers mark.

Since it helped me grow, I used to recommend it to new writers who want to gain 100 followers and kickstart their writing careers.

Introducing The Shortform team

Let me start this article by introducing our team:

  • Tom Fenske has one child and a full-time job.
  • Burk has 5 children and is starting his own online business.
  • I’m a working mom, have a toddler at home, and run my Medium Kickstarter Boot Camp and other online courses.
  • Luckily, we have Christina (also a mom) as well as Nancy Blackman (busy with her writing projects) onboard as new editors for a few weeks.

The day I heard the bad news for new writers

Due to family commitments and other projects, I informed Tom and the other editors, Burk Christina and Nancy Blackman, in February 2022 that I would be taking a break for about 6 to 8 weeks.

Unfortunately, a few days later, several new writers brought to my attention that the editor-in-chief, Tom, has decided to close the publication for new writers — until further notice.

At first, I thought it would somehow be my fault.

Because I’ve decided to take a break.

So I checked Tom’s profile and also send him a WhatsApp message.

Why is The Shortform closed for new writers?

Here’s what I can share with you today.

Tom shared:

  • we won’t add new writers from now on.
  • the jobs and families (we are all working parents) we have to take care of are the main priority.
  • we perform all of this in our little spare time.
  • we aren’t compensated or even supported by Medium in running a publication.

The good news!

THe Shortform
The Shortform is still in business.

Yes, there is no way to be added as a completely new writer.

But if you had already sent an email and asked us to join, we’ll take care of you.

Plus:

Please note this decision has no influence on publishing with us.

Every writer can still submit stories to be vetted and published by our editing team. Tom Fenske

Writer’s Blokke and Globetrotters shut their doors for new writers too

In his article, Tom refers to Writer’s Blokke who also shut the doors for new writers in March 2022.

Writer’s Blokke
Writer’s Blokke still publishes added writers.

Here’s what Benny said about the toll on mental health:

I have said that I will keep this publication going as long as I can but if it comes at the price of my or my editors’ mental health, then I may have to rethink it.

I may either pass on the baton of ownership to someone else or I may have to shut the publication down completely.

Globetrotters
Globetrotters is still publishing stories of added writers.

Here’s what Warren had to say about the little give and take along the way:

Unfortunately, we have to place a cap on the number of writers. When we open it back up again, I’ll let you know. (…)

When considering what’s best for both the writers and editor, sometimes there will have to be a little give and take along the way.

Is it an evolution?

New writers often asked me whether it’s a worrying time.

My answer is:

It’s an evolution.

evolution = a process of continuous change from a lower, simpler, or worse to a higher, more complex, or better state (Webster Dictionary)

Things change on Medium. We adapt and move on.

Nevertheless, there are publications that shut down in 2021 and that we really miss.

5 top publications that closed in 2021

  • P.S. I Love You closed its doors because Medium pulled the plug on fundings. The editors chose it wasn’t worth their time to continue.
  • Last summer, Tom Kuegler announced he’ll shut down ‘The Post Grad Survival Guide’ for all submissions.
  • Modern Parent, a wonderful publication for parents, was discontinued without any notice.
  • Steve Campbell surprisingly announced he’ll close ‘The Ascent’. He had a great time. He just wanted to move on after 5 and a half long hard years of running his exhausting ‘side project’.
  • My favorite travel pub ‘The Traveler’s Blog’ shut down last autumn.

Diana C., for instance, shut her pub Know Thyself, Heal Thyself not only for submissions but fully in December 2021until further notice.

Luckily, she reopened her pub again in 2022.

Yes, I think more pubs will close their doors in 2022 still…

I believe in the future of publications

Medium wants to support individual, self-published writers more.

That’s great for us as individuals.

Still,…

  • 💗when you publish your piece with a publication it’s more likely that you’ll get more eyeballs on your content.
  • 💗Moreover, these publications are brands on Medium.
  • 💗They are a stamp of credibility.
  • 💗You should do your happy dance when a pub accepts you as a writer and when your piece gets published.

According to Smedian (a third-party site), there are currently 1,549 Medium publications that are accepting contributors.

I believe in publications and I recommend every new writer to try to get published in the publications of his/her dreams.

Are Medium’s publications doomed?

Recently, my friend Robert Ralph who owns New Writers Welcome (and What Is Love To You?) reached out to Medium and asked them:

(…) are you trying to close down publications? I feel like you are working more towards individual writers.

This is the (shocking) answer Robert received:

At the moment, shutting down publications isn’t a part of Medium’s future.

Robert read the response and wrote an article about it, stating:

Now call me cynical, “AT THE MOMENT” I have taken that response as “Not at the moment, but we will be closing publications in the future”

I love Brett Millan’s analysis on this:

I would be reading into that comment exactly the same way as you are. However, as an English teacher who also has a business degree, I'm torn.
I see the "At the moment," exactly as a "we've discussed it, but not yet." That's the English teacher in me. 
The business side of me is a little more practical in the interpretation. "We don't want to say never, ever, so let's just say, 'At the moment.' That way we have an out if we ever do."

Enjoy the ride.

I hope this article has helped you understand a little better why The Shortform has been closed for new writers and why I am not currently responding to your requests via email.

Also, I think you have broadened your horizons and now see the challenges that the publications on Medium are facing right now.

Plus, you now know that if we have already accepted you as a (new) writer for The Shortform, you can send us your drafts.

No, we can’t predict the future of Medium. That’s true.

For now, all we can do is enjoy the ride and be more understanding when a publication…

  • closes its doors to new writers
  • takes a while to answer your emails
  • or publish your articles.

I just want everyone to enjoy the ride, regardless of how long more it will be. Benny Lim, owner of Writer’s Blokke

© Kristina God — Thanks for making my words part of your day!


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