Fiction Writers Need to Support One Another

And some great newsletters to check out

Fiction writers are struggling

I’ve been talking a lot with other writers about how little financial support those who have gone paid receive from their readers. There are, of course, exceptions, but as a general rule, readers seem to be happy to read as long as it doesn’t cost them anything to do so.

Let’s face it; there are a lot of demands for everyone’s money. In addition to just managing to keep a roof over our heads and food on our tables, there are constant pleas for financial aid for everything from victims of the fires raging across our planet to the homeless on our own streets.

We do still manage to enjoy our Starbucks, Booster Juice, or whatever our favorite expensive concoction is. We’ll also spend a heinous amount of money at the movies for a single night’s enjoyment (complete with popcorn, candy, and drinks). But we don’t seem to value the hard work of writers enough to throw them five dollars a month to support them.

We’re looking for new platforms

You might think that this post, based on the first three paragraphs, is aimed at readers. Well, yes and no. It’s aimed at readers who are also writers. Most of us would like to get paid for our talent and hard work. But how many of us financially support other writers? I honestly don’t know the answer to that question. When I Googled it, the links that came up were all about how hard it is for writers to support themselves by, well, you know, writing.

Elle Griffin wrote a well-researched and depressing post about why it’s not a good idea to write books. (Spoiler: you won’t likely make any money doing so.)

The Novelleist
The one where writing books is not really a good idea
The New York Times caused a stir recently when, in an article about pandemic book sales, it disclosed that “98 percent of the books that publishers released in 2020 sold fewer than 5,000 copies.” Though this statistic was shocking to many, it is not new information…
Read more

Many writers have turned to other platforms for their work, including Substack. The model has worked well for some non-fiction writers, though I think the majority of those struggle as well. The jury is still out for fiction writers.

When we publish on online platforms, writers hope that readers will value our work enough to, depending on the platform, subscribe, take out a membership, become a patron, or whatever other term is used to describe the kind of crowdfunding that might one day support our writing endeavors.

Too much time is spent on largely unsuccessful promotion

We work hard, on top of writing and supporting ourselves through our day jobs, to promote our work. My experience is that it isn’t particularly successful. Maybe others with better health and more energy than I have do better with it.

Do we support one another

But here’s the thing. I think a lot of us get so caught up in trying to make our own work successful that we don’t offer our support to other writers. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe most writers do subscribe to other writers. I know some that do.

I find it hard to make time to keep up with the writings of all the writers whose work I enjoy. This doesn’t stop me from supporting them. A lot of their stories end up in folders that I promise myself I will one day get to. I try to read at least some as they come into my mailbox.

And I support a few I really like. There are a few on Patreon and some here on Substack. My resources, like everyone else’s, are limited. I’m maxed out at four Substack newsletters. I wish I could support more. I believe these four are truly deserving of my support (which doesn’t mean others are not).

Newsletters I pay to read

Today, I’m going to share the newsletters to which I have paid subscriptions. While these may or may not be to your liking, please consider, if you don’t already do so, supporting some of your fellow writers. Maybe it will catch on. Maybe it already has and I’m just oblivious. I would be so happy to find out I’m wrong.

To the best of my knowledge, Jimmy Doom is the only writer publishing new original fiction 365 days a year. Check out Jimmy Doom’s Roulette Weal.

Elle Griffin, in addition to writing well-researched, free posts for writers, has just begun serializing her gothic novel, Obscurity. The first few chapters (which are free) have me hooked. Here’s a link to The Novelleist.

Jason McBride is my favorite new find on Substack. His newsletter, Weirdo Poetry, is fantastic. I also recently picked up four of his books from Amazon.

Mark Starlin, in addition to his (still free, I think) Monday morning, Mark Starlin Writes, is serializing Space Traveler Fargone, as well as writing Elise Boissonneau, the second installment of his Baron Britpop Blastfurnace series, with reader input. I don’t know where he finds the energy!

Drop a link or just leave a comment

Please drop links to any newsletters you support. If you truly can’t afford to subscribe, promote other writers on social media and in your own newsletter.  This journey needs to be about more than ourselves. Let’s be the readers we want for our own work!

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You can support me too

I don’t currently offer paid subscriptions on Substack, but you can, if you feel inclined, Buy Me a Coffee.