Things I've learned from 8 years of writing fiction online
I’m still figuring out how to not overcommit 🤣
Also I would add: share the process not just the finished chapters.
And also: Follow other writers you like and get into their works too. The community aspect is essential online!
Awesome advice, Simon! You hit on all the major ones I think about as well. My word count is usually in that 1200-1500 range, sometimes a little shorter, other times a little longer.
So impressive that you’ve done three serial novels! Bravo!
Interesting point about AI-generated images. I played around with it for a while but I agree, it looks either very bland or generic, and I never really got what I was aiming for. I put up one image that turned out half-decent in my recent post, but it's only for conceptualization purposes and not used anywhere. Re: word count. Scenes in my upcoming short story (6k words) can be anything between 500 and 1200k words. Maybe release it in full instead of scene by scene (7 in total).
I'm not using Substack for fiction, but I find your pieces valuable for any writer. Found you after a Google search "what is a good growth rate for a substack" and subscribed to study your style—it's very readable!
Thank you, Simon. Your tips will be really helpful as I go forward. I publish once a week at around 2500-3000 words. Some adjustments might be needed there. Anyway, I'll be tinkering with my strategy. Cheers!
Great response! I wonder how often it's a case of poor product vs poor marketing? I'm an experienced online marketer so I'm hoping that will work in my favour. Either way, I'm enjoying my first foray into writing and it's already benefited my brain to write regularly, my thoughts in general have been much clearer. Thanks again for the content. All the best :)
Great structure and organisation here. Seems a little defeatist to say you can't make money from this though? Substack certainly seems it would be difficult, but have you tried the traditional book route? Or self publishing on Kindle? Some new-ish authors seemed to have cracked the code there. Tales from the Triverse, at least, seems like a strong novel conceptually.
This is super-helpful Simon. Many thanks. So, as a Substack rookie, I have to ask the chicken/egg question. How much time did you spend (and doing what) to build a following prior to publishing your novels, OR was the publication of your novels the driver behind the development of your following? Look forward to hearing from you. Cheers. G
Thank you for these tips! I’m fairly new to substack, publishing a serial novel with new chapters every Monday & Wednesday. Your list gave me a few things to think over as I move forward!
Thank you for these tips! I'll definitely keep 8 & 10 in mind for when I start serializing.
I do feel called out on AI art. You said yourself that presentation is important & I can see why there are arguments against using AI art but I'm not an artist or designer myself so Midjourney is significantly better that anything I would be able to create on my own. Even stock photos + Canva often doesn't match my vision for a particular story cover or illustration, especially in the SFF genre where photos don't really feel fitting, so I'm torn on this one.
Very helpful Simon.
This is a very valuable post. Thank you!
Thanks for sharing! I’m currently writing on Substack about my writing process but I have toyed with the idea of using it to serialize my first novel, one I’m working on. It’s a fairy tale/ fantasy. Your suggestions are much appreciated!
Fantastic post Simon. I'm planning to serialize a novel this summer, so your dos and don'ts here are appreciated. Also planning to look into Wattpad for a different novel. Have you written a post on your experience using that platform already? If so, link? If not, might I email you with questions as I begin my research?
What led me to this post (which I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciate) is wondering how iI might add a section or in some other way have an additional part of my Substack presence for an Inner Circle group, a little like a Launch/ARC team on steroids. I think it would be a paid subscription and every month the subscribers would receive a coupon code that would allow them to download one of my 30+ books from my website's bookstore with the hope and expectation that they would then review the book and share about it on social media. I want to give this experiment a try, and I don't know enough about the logistics of Substack to know how to set it up. Can anyone reading this help me?