Hey there, I created a Substack a little over six months ago and this has been my experience so far. I’ve slowly accumulated 77 wonderful subscribers. The initial 20, or so, were family and friends, but ever since then it’s been a slow grind pumping out short fiction for people to enjoy. I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback and I’ve learned a lot about myself and my writing over the past few months.
Generating a Brand
At the beginning, it was a personal Substack for my own writing. Then, after a few weeks I made the decision to make it into my business. In doing so, I established a theme and an idea for my company called “Storyletter LLC”. I wanted The Storyletter Substack to be something much more than a place for my own stories, but one where other independent authors could grow and prosper with their writing. I founded a publishing company on Dec 28 through ZenBusiness, which was a super simple, cheap, and smooth process. I had an artist contact of mine draw up an idea I had for the Substack: a fantasy type letterhead that would solidify The Storyletter theme. What he came up with was 100x better:
As you can see on the right, it’s a header and footer that when split and applied to the outgoing emails makes it appear as if the content of the post is within a letter being sent to you. I can’t express how pleased I am with this, I even made the banner into an NFT.
Growing the Brand
Of course, one of the main issues with a newsletter is that it’s quite difficult for them to be found as there aren’t many mainstream directories out there. I use a few and they have landed me several subscribers but I think the biggest way has been through social media. The only problem is that you spend a lot of time on social media and less time writing for the thing you’re promoting. Time management is key. Atomic Habits is an excellent book and source for getting your life in order in more ways than one, at least, it helped me figure out how to get in the right head space most of the time.
I think Twitter has been a good source of subs from what I can tell, but Direct could mean a ton of different things and the source wasn’t clear.
Pitching the Substack Format
So many people are excelling with Substack because it’s a perfect way to engage with an audience that cares about what you (you, specifically) are creating. I think this is key to the longevity of independent artists and writers out there. The creator economy is growing big time and now more than ever there’s a space for you to carve out an audience. With my Substack I hope to reignite a passion for short stories and poetry in a time where writers are now competing for attention against video games, movies, television, and TikTok. It’s an uphill battle, but I think the people that are interested will find it anyway and therefore the only battle to be had is consistency and engagement.
What Has Been a Substack Win?
Over the last six months I’ve been publishing almost weekly on Substack which has helped me improve my word count and revision process. The weekly deadlines seem to keep me on a somewhat loose schedule and so I produce roughly 3000 words a week now, which is way more than I was doing in 2020 (which was ZERO). I’ve written—and with the help of an awesome guest writer—and published over 24 stories in that time, which is a lot of fiction-based content!
I’ve been writing a fantasy, horror novella serially on there since the launch and it’s nearing the climactic final chapters over the month of February. I would love for you to check it out!
So, What’s Next?
I’ve been working on getting the submission process up-and-running for a few months now and I think it is almost ready. I’ll announce it soon, but I’d love for anyone who is reading this, and who is even remotely interested in reading or writing speculative fiction, to go browse The Storyletter Substack and please consider subscribing. Free signups are perfect as I would love to see you join us on the journey to the first 100 subs. Paid memberships are even better ($2.50/m) and you get access to some really cool stuff such as the audio series of my stories and the private Discord (which will be a key component for writers looking to submit later on).
I can’t wait to share these new stories with you when you sign up! You’re going to love it, I promise… okay, I can’t promise but I hope you’ll love it.
So are you going to create a Substack? If so, what will it be about? Let me know when you do so I can subscribe and become a fan!!