Can Steemit Monetize Short Fiction?

It is well known that today, one cannot hope to make any real money at short fiction; the payouts are too small and even the biggest venues are too obscure, largely read not by general readers but by other authors or people who want to be authors. Its close cousin, the serial, limps on as a vehicle for writing about established characters; few new works debut in this manner anymore. The situation looks dire, and seems to be getting worse by the day.

But the advance of computer technology has provided a possible solution to this crisis. Say hello to Steemit, a blockchain-based blogging platform.

Steemit is a blogging service that allows writers to earn cryptocurrency whenever readers upvote their work. Through the magic of the blockchain, the upvotes become “steem,” a currency that can be exchanged for real money. Their idea is to have a social media company where users, not shareholders, benefit directly from the content without begging for donations.

From the looks of it, Steemit can handily make short fiction pay. My social media buddy, Dragon Award-nominated author Benjamin Cheah, has been blogging there for the past few months, and his posts have racked up a decent little payout; it’s not much of a stretch to extend that to both short fiction and serials in a 21st century update of the pulp era’s economic model. Furthermore, a Steemit account, once created, cannot be deleted for it is part of the blockchain; outside modification of a blockchain is extraordinarily difficult, though not impossible.

However, in spite of these clear advantages, I will not switch over to Steemit any time soon. Why not?

Taxes.

Here in the United States, the Internal Revenue Service treats cryptocurrency as property on which the holder must pay a capital gains tax, among other rules (non-US readers should look up the taxation rules in their own jurisdictions.) Since cryptocurrency fluctuates in value and Steem accrues interest, determining what taxes apply when is far too difficult, and I haven’t the energy to fiddle with all of that.

The above becomes even more complicated when one sees the actual process of cashing out. Needless to say, one needs to have all their ducks in a row if they want to have anything to do with cryptocurrency. This kind of thing requires one’s full attention, but if you think you can handle it all, be my guest.

In conclusion, Steemit is an excellent platform for monetizing short fiction if one is willing to keep an eye on the value of their cryptocurrency and pay much closer attention to their taxable income. While I will hold off on it for now, I encourage others to do their research and see if Steem can benefit them. As Larry Correia says, an author’s mission statement should be GET PAID, and I would like nithing more than to see authors of short fiction and serials make a little money.

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