How unprofessional behavior at one of Medium’s official publications left me with a great deal of disappointment.
Ever been ghosted? You just stop getting any communication from the person, with no word whatsoever. This is the story of my experience with Heated, an official Medium publication, spearheaded by Mark Bittman.
I started off normal enough. I have been submitting draft articles to Heated for some time. My first submission was about my idea for an “East Coast Kaiseki.” This article had already been published, but someone suggested I try submitting it anyway. According to submission guidelines, Heated does sometimes bring on board already published articles, if they have a good fit. But usually only if they come across them on their own.
Still, I tried. I didn’t receive any response. That was fine. I wasn’t expecting a response to that submission. I waited a while before submitting another article for consideration. The next article that I tried submitting was an article about soups for every season. I tried to make it informative, without making it dull. This time I did end up getting a response, but it was just a polite rejection letter.
They were fairly vague about why it was rejected, and what they were looking for, but I did notice that their submissions tended to focus on articles with more narrative. So for my third attempt, I thought specifically about what the publication might want to receive. I remembered that some time back, I had started working on an online course about rice. The story of the domestication and cultivation of rice is an interesting one, and given how important rice is as a staple food, an important topic.
After writing the article, I submitted a draft. This time I received a different response: Thanks, Daniel. I’m psyched to read it. Do you want to send it over to Heated so I can line edit and post it? Thanks so much. M
Suffice to say, I was quite excited. After submitting drafts to numerous publications, I was finally accepted by one of Medium’s core pubs. While I still think Medium needs to be less biased, I am not opposed to working with the core publications, as they’re not bad in and of themselves. I sent off a few emails to learn more about the process, and M was quite helpful. But she said she was fairly busy and that she would get back to me by the end of the day Friday (12.06), so I waited.
And I waited. No email. Strange. I waited until Sunday, because I didn’t want to sound pushy, but ended up sending off another email: I just wanted to touch base since it’s been a little bit since our last discussion. While waiting to hear back, I’ve been working on some other articles that might fit the publication as well.
I waited some more. Nothing. I checked my drafts on Tuesday to find that some editing had been done. Interesting. Maybe she started line editing it. I opened the article but I didn’t notice any changes. A while later I opened it and realized exactly what had been edited. The article draft had been removed from the publication.
Medium is not going to succeed if its official publications have such unprofessional ways of handling authors, and if it continues to engage in overall poor business practices. I want Medium to survive though. It could offer so much more to independent authors.
I also think that Heated and some of the other magazines on Medium have a significant amount of potential. I like that Heated is dedicated to more than just food or travel. It’s focus is on the history, philosophy, and narratives, of food. And I would still like to write for a publication like that. Unfortunately, as much as I can understand being inundated with work, and even forgetting to email me back as promised, the continued silence and unceremonious removal from of the draft from the publication have both left me with a bit indigestion, so to speak.
Anyway, I truly do hope that readers find my experience informative. However, I really just needed to vent. I don’t know if have had, or will have, similar experiences, but I think that more people need to know when a business engages in such shoddy practices.
I tried to wait, and give M a few chances, because I’m not the greatest at returning emails or keeping track of my own projects. It would be entirely hypocritical if I was just being impatient. But unlike with many of my projects, Heated isn’t some hobby or labor of love by the people involved. It’s a Medium affiliated publication. And at this point, it’s pretty clear that Heated ghosted me. Who knows. Maybe the removal was a mistake. That would be nice. Maybe M just hasn’t had a chance to get back to me for a week. There’s a lot of work to do on a publication that size. Or did they burn me?