Hi, there! Hope this helps clear any confusion.
1. Story Purchase
The numbers vary from author to author. Episode just purchases what they want/think will be profitable as a featured story, so there’s no set amount/benchmark for getting a story purchased (some have sold at under 500K, other have sold at over 1M). I’m not sure how much they pay to buy a story, but I think that number also varies!
2. Payment Program
There are set requirements for getting into the payment program. (1) 500K chapter reads in the last 60 days or (2) 100K gem chapter reads + 300 gem choice selections (before May 1st) or 50K gems spent (after May 1st) in the last 60 days.
3. Contracted Employee
Anyone can apply to be an official writer/director. They often share their job listings on their Instagram story, so follow episodecreators and keep an eye out if that’s something you want to do. You have to fill out the application and go through the interview process like with any other job. Employees work on Episode Official/featured stories. If they’re also community authors, they’re not paid for their community stories as part of their contract (they’re only paid for community stories if they’re in the payment program).
These three categories are separate from/independent of each other, but an author can attain all three (have a story purchased, unlock writer payments, and get hired as an official writer/director).