It's even worse than it appears.
Thursday March 18, 2021; 10:13 AM EDT
  • It's been fascinating to watch writers come to grips with the idea that Substack is not a level playing field. They recruited some famous writers, paid them advances, in some cases (apparently, not verified as far as I know) of up to $250K. The rest of the writers got nothing but the opportunity to make money from their newsletters. By seeding the market with this money they could honestly say that some writers were making six figures from their Substack work, implying perhaps that you could too. Maybe you could. But honestly -- you won't. The system they've set up doesn't work that way.#
  • One writer called it a scam but I'm not sure that's a good word for what's going on. It's more like "business model" or "growth strategy." This is how the tech industry works. They do whatever it takes to create an illusion of potential growth, then they sell that to seed investors, who in turn sell it to angels, then to Series A and B and so on, and ultimately to the public. Huge amounts of money are raised, and none of it goes to the writers who keep the wheels spinning, in the case of Substack and their ilk, writers. And the writers who may think of themselves of savvy tech journos are scammed, that's where the real scam is, they largely did it to themselves by believing the fairy tale that they could get rich off writing, or even make a good living. #
  • An aside, this is not new. Medium has been paying writers for years. I know several of them and have confirmed it. I found out by questioning why they wrote for Medium, when it seemed against their values. The answer: they needed the money. #
  • I regularly make offers to work with writers on easy writing and distribution systems without the constraints. But you all keep going for the tech industry business models. They get rich, and we're always starting over. When you decide you want to do this for real, with your eyes open, learning from all the experience, write a manifesto and call for open source devs to help you, and then we can get something going. But until the writers lead here, you're going to keep having your hearts broken and the tech for writing on the web will continue to go nowhere. #

© copyright 1994-2021 Dave Winer.

Last update: Thursday March 18, 2021; 10:56 AM EDT.

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