Wish me luck pitching again. (Groan.)
"I’ve been talking with a friend/colleague who’s in a similar boat, and we both feel a need to start at least occasionally publishing some work outside of this environment." I too have been thinking about this. It is hard, once you start making a living on Substack, to try to pitch to legacy media again when the landscape has shifted so much, so many of the editors I worked with have been fired/laid off or moved on and then fired or moved on again, started their own magazines and then had those closed by idiot money people. And then on top of that, publishing there usually will make like 10% what a Substack post will bring in for me. But you are right. It is a strange and slightly scary moment. I live in fear of Substack being destroyed somehow.
Oof. I feel and relate to much of the angst you describe here, Sari. It hurts to think that writing and reading something isn't enough anymore.
Just last night I was telling my husband (a tech/software/integrations guy) that I'm enjoying the process of stepping into the role of "publisher" more and more these days and I also want to start looking into how tech can help me diversify what I'm publishing. (Just writing that sentence makes me woozy!) But the reality is that even the nature of Substack is becoming a mixed bag and it makes me a little nervous because we're all using the same tools and hoping our inputs are better than the other writing they might read first.
How long before readers tire of reading personal essays on their iPhones? Or discussion threads, where it turns into a cacophony of who said what, and where was my comment and how can I find what so-and-so said? The messiness is going to ask for (and inevitably produce) a streamlined solution. At least, that's what happens in software: the clunky, good-enough products are gobbled alive by the thing that does something better/faster/with fewer resources.
I think you're asking the right questions, however heartbreaking they might be. Can we standalone publishers give readers something they can't find anywhere else? Does the ad-free reader-driven publishing experience have enough legs to stand the test of time? More importantly, what the hell do readers want these days? From the sounds of it, it's anyone's guess.
Hey there. Writing Class Radio is closed to pitches right now, but if you have something you think would work for us, please send it over. You know how good it feels to hear your story laced with music and then hear my partner and me go off on how great it is. So if you want that experience again, hit me up. We only take original essays these days and pay $100. Also, we just sailed past 1,000,000 downloads, so someone's listening.
I think so often about putting all of one’s eggs in a single basket. Substack is great, and now it’s one of my revenue streams. But like you, I’ve seen enough things go under (I’m still mourning Earlier Twitter) that it feels wise to diversify where my income comes from.
You are so brave and while I was reading this i was thinking just how Jewish it is to think the other shoe is going to drop. I know this too. It’s in our blood. Somehow you ( and I) have made it through 6 decades and the other shoe may feel like it’s slipping off but somehow it always stays on. Your shoe won’t drop.
I think you’ve got a few years before substack/newsletters become obsolete, just observe how long it took all the other forms to die off. Then subtract a year or so, just like the gentrification process. And keep an eye out for what’s next: you always land on your feet, I’ve gotta hand it to you!
I feel you, though why not just save your substack subscriber emails and if you need to jump ship, they will follow you once you contact them?
Erik Hoel just wrote a great piece on The Intrinsic Perspective about why you shouldn’t sell your writing to such other freelance gig places.
I am not a writer but I am a lover of reading (and write in my free time ) and I empathize so much with you and others who do hard freelancing work . I am wondering if a union exists for those who write for written publications? Is there a way writers can unite and share info (on pay, opportunities etc )? Just some thoughts.
I’ve never made much money from writing so I’m content to jump from ship to ship grateful to be read if only briefly.
As a new writer, I barely have enough eggs to fill even one basket. I am forever grateful for you to introduce me to this basket and give me this platform to publish my first essay. Substack has since provided me with the freedom to express myself and reach my readers.
Having been on Substack for a little over 8 months, I find most of its readers are also writers. I am both a writer and a reader of Substack and I struggle to divide my time between reading and writing. Maybe it is a good problem to have but a problem for me nevertheless.
I agree with you that it is good to be published in places other than Substack and while pitching can be an unpleasant "adventure" you know that you still have your readers and magazines on Substack! Go for it Sari!
Ahhh, good luck, Sari! If I was in any sort of editorial/acquisitions role I would definitely hire you immediately, but as it is, sending along my well-wishes. I am also gearing up to start pitching again after a long book break, and I feel an existential dread. It's interesting to hear about you and other successful Substack writers wanting to diversify, at the same time I've been feeling that I should be starting up an actual newsletter-- seems like one of the rare viable platforms/income streams now (thought of course to create a thriving substack/community-- much less three, like you!!-- requires not only talent but energy + follow through that I often lack!!). But you're right, of course, & it was helpful to see your thought process here!
I just pitched an essay for the first time in a while and I've been obsessively refreshing all day! It's so nerve-wracking and I have no where near your experience!
I’ve recently made the terrible mistake of putting all my eggs in one basket and also feel the urge to make PDFs of all my work 😆
I’m not and editor but Adrienne Westenfeld is, and she’s very nice. You might want to pitch her at the Books section of Esquire. Just a thought.
Love your work. Thank you.
Have you been hanging out inside my head? Thank you for your naked vulnerability. It’s super encouraging and I wish you the very best!
I feel this too. I don't love pitching but feel like I should keep doing it every once in a while for a variety of reasons.