Who Says You Can’t Get Sprung From Curation Jail?

I’m out on parole — let’s see what this new world will do for me…

Jim Farina
3 min readJan 29, 2020


Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

It was late last year when some chatter across Medium’s platform lead me to suspect that I might be in “curation jail”.

It’s true — I was in jail. Not a single story was curated in topics after publishing for a year. I attributed this to my immaturity as a writer. I’m willing to accept that. I still have much to learn. If I keep plugging away, showing up daily to write, in time, I was confident my work would be curated.

It made no sense. After writing sixty or more stories, not one was curated in topics. When other writers began talking about this “curation jail” I got to wondering. I discovered that I was imprisoned early on. I can only assume it was due to poor quality writing for an extended period. I still don’t really know exactly why I was sentenced.

How do you know that you’re in jail? The easiest way to find out is to go to your stats page, click on “details” of any story and if you see this message below you are in curation jail:

“Our curators were not able to review this story for distribution in topics due to high volume. This story will still be shared with followers.”

To my dismay, this was the message I found for all my stories going back to the beginning. I allowed myself to be discouraged for a brief time. Then I thought, Medium can’t possibly fling people in jail and throw away the key. There must be a way out…

Shortly after I made the decision to claw my way out of this predicament, I began formulating an escape plan. This involved writing more thoughtful and researched pieces and pitching to Medium-owned publications for broader exposure.

I then read an article by Shaunta Grimes, What to do If You’re in Curation Jail. I thought Shaunta’s strategy to be very sound advice. It reflected, or rather reinforced my own thinking on the matter.

I then wrote a story myself: Les Misérables of Medium. This piece served as my own public declaration of my plan to either break free from curation jail, or start over, possibly under a new account and identity. Thankfully, I never had to resort to that second option.

Since working daily to become a better writer and beating down the doors of Medium publications, I’ve been published in Better Marketing, P.S. I Love You, The Writing Cooperative, The Ascent, and The Startup.

The Startup actually approached me, asking if I would be interested in publishing a story that was curated in the topic of “Writing”. They thought their readers would “Love” it. Since December my writing has been curated and distributed in the topics of Marketing, Beauty, Writing, Lifestyle, Leadership and Self.

I recently visited the stats page under my profile. And what do you know? When I hover the cursor over the question mark following “Not distributed in topics”, the message now reads:

“ Curators did not select this story for distribution, but it will be shared with followers. Read our Curation Guidelines to see what curators look for.

I read it over and over — what a wonderful message!. And this stamp appears on all my stories going back to early 2019 when I first activated my Medium account. I did it — I’m free!

So it is possible to break free of curation jail. Write daily. Stay positive and submit the best work you can to Medium’s publications.

Be sure to read and follow the publication’s guidelines carefully for each publication you pitch. Your work won’t always be accepted, or sometimes you’ll be asked to do some revisions and resubmit.

It requires some patience. You might have to wait days or weeks for an answer. Sometimes you’ll get no answer and it’s time to submit to another publication. But with persistence, you’ll begin getting your work published and curated into topics. If I can do it, trust me, so can you!



Jim Farina

Serving only the freshest, organic content. Writing prepared with the best quality ingredients, easy to digest and shareable. jimfarina @att.net