I launched an indie press and published an author banned from Medium.
Can Medium readers atone for Medium Staff’s disenfranchisement of creative writers? Yes! Buy my books!
No seriously. Buy my books. On creativeonionpress.com, not on Amazon. Tell your friends.
This is a hard post for me to write. I’m not much for the hard sales pitch, and believe it or not, I really hate being aggressive. It’s against my nature. But it’s even more against my nature to be used for my talents then sidelined without my balancing the scales in some way. Medium — this platform — has been benefitting from my talents since 2015 (inorite?!?). Medium spent several years raising my work’s visibility, and even compensating me for features in their first wave of paid writers. But when Ev brought in teams of traditional media editors and paid to syndicate mainstream media articles into our feeds, it was effectively over for us creative writers and independent, untethered voices.
Medium’s paid gigs went away, and my post visibility plummetted beneath Atlantic articles and Jessica Valenti’s yellow journalism. It was…disappointing.
Whatever. I don’t want to get into it here. I’ve bitched in immense detail about Medium’s partner program here — just scroll through my profile if you want the full scoop. My point isn’t that I personally am so hard done. It’s that tech startup practices like these are killing our independent creative industries and artists, and that shit is not ok.
It’s not just my visibility and work and livelihood that suffered (I know it’s totally idealist for an unconnected pleabian like me to think I could make a decent living off my writing talents). It drove poets off the platform; fiction writers; investigative journalists; brilliant longform essayists. The ones who stayed had no choice but to try to conform to Medium’s algorithmic tastes or wander in the algorithmic desert. My all time favorite outsider writer, of the urban fantasy genre, was censored off the platform wholesale a few years back. A lotta beautiful stuff got scrubbed.
It was super sucky. It remains at a very high level of suckitude.
You know what makes it super, super, extra sucky? Call me an egomaniac if you like: Medium’s editorial strategies and popular essay styles have copied a lot from my style. I kind of championed writing aggressively honest, first person diatribes based in anecdotes of my own experience. That’s a thing I started doing here before most other folks. I know, because I remember thinking at the time, “am I allowed to write like this? Is this a thing? Will people hate this?” Many of my title formats — even some of my article themes I’ve seen spun and redone to the point where they have become embedded in the culture here. And elsewhere, by now. I haven’t earned $1,000 from Medium in all my years here.
Yes. I’m bitter. For myself, and for my talented colleagues.
You know what it’s called, when someone uses you to get ahead then discards you and tells you that you never really mattered? That’s called abuse. Do you know what it’s called when you excuse this behavior, say there’s two sides to every argument, that the victim is just being dramatic? That’s called enabling.
You know what it’s called when victims identify and name abuse for what it is? Healing.
That’s what we’re doing here. All of us. Trying to process and heal. That’s kind of what literature is for.
In my journey of healing — from not just Medium, but from the many wounds inflicted by sociopathic business culture — I launched an indie press. A truly horrible idea for a high achiever recovering from extreme burnout. But I did it nonetheless. Because fuck that noise.
I had no choice. It had to be done.
The first book I published is by that favorite author I mentioned — the one censored from this platform. It’s a serial fiction novella called “Soul Collector,” by an interdimentional bard posing as a black man named Duvay Knox.
It’s fucking rad. It’s can’t-put-it-down good. It wrinkles your brain and tickles your racism. Also, it’s gorgeous. I went bold on the type design, and it paid off. The intensity of the work demanded it.
The second is a poetry chapbook called “Songs for the Cleveland Avenue Warriors,” by a bright star wrapped in the skin of a single black father and inner city schoolteacher named Gary E. Moore. The language is elegant without being stuffy, the subject is alternately heart wrenching and eucatastrophic. It’s gorgeous.
Yes. Both of my first authors are black men. In a more civilized society, this wouldn’t bear mentioning, but we all know what kind of society we actually live in. It’s noteworthy for marketing purposes. I know my business. Personally, it just happened that way, because these were the works I recieved first and loved best. I’m beyond grateful to them, for lending their talents to my brand. I can honestly say they’re both shining works of modern literature.
Those are first. COSGRRRL has two issues in print under the press, and another title is coming up here this fall by our very own Brian Brewington, sage of the streets. Eventually some of my own work will find its way to print. Later.
For now, I’m hustling to sell these two titles, as well as my current two issues of COSGRRRL. Because even if you can wear 80% of the hats, making books is actually kind of expensive. And mama’s got bills to pay.
So this is where the pitch comes. I’ll save us both the time and, as the kids say, cringe.
Fucking buy them.
BUY THEM NOW!
And DON’T you fucking DARE buy them from Amazon. You know what happens when you do that? Jeff Bezos pockets 55% of my profit margin. Hard stop. That’s why I’ve bothered to invest in having my own online bookstore and inventory and fulfillment system. So I can keep that 55%, you know, to pay my vendors and feed my family and dog and ducks and such.
Why buy them? Because you’ll enjoy them. Because they’ll look badass on your shelf or coffee table. Because you can show your friends how progressive you are for reading quality, edgy indie literature by POC. Because you can know that you’re directly supporting both small business and black authorship.
ALSO: because fuck editorial gatekeeping. Fuck traditional publishing. Fuck this sociopathic system which gatekeeps the best and brightest — the ones with potential to awaken our collective consciousness — from their work ever seeing the light of day.
Do you, as a writer, want the publishing world to be comprised of more than just Amazon’s KDP and Random House self help books? Do you want small publishing houses who are willing to take a risk on a new genre?
Then buy my books. Buy them.
Damn the man. Save the Empire.
Buy my books.
For bonus points, leave reviews and stuff.
When — and only when — you’re done, go forth and buy books directly from small presses, and from your favorite indie bookstore’s website. Feel the economic and artistic goodness rise within you.