Define and tackle your writing goals this fall

Video from the September Fictionistas chat, plus the date of our October meetup!


Welcome to Fictionistas, a Substack by and for writers of fiction on the Substack platform.

With kids back in the classroom, leaves changing color, and shorter days and cooler temperatures on the horizon, fall is the absolute best season to jumpstart or reinvigorate your fiction writing practice. To that end, the September Fictionistas Zoom chat focused specifically on the concrete goals our writers aim to achieve by year’s end.

orange flowering trees showing pathway
The perfect weather for sweaters — and fiction. Photo by Mathias Reding on Unsplash

What we discussed

Writers shared a broad range of goals they’d like to accomplish before the calendar turns to 2023 (yikes).

Quantitative objectives included posting a specific number of stories by year end, establishing a fixed publishing cadence, increasing numbers of total subscribers, launching a paid subscription tier, and increasing paid conversion rates (i.e., convincing more free subscribers to upgrade to paid).

More qualitatively, writers are also looking to tighten or redefine their editorial and content strategies, distribute stories into new channels, teach and mentor others, increase reader engagement (e.g., get more comments), and — of course — finish that dang novel already!

During our lively and supportive discussion we identified ways to accomplish these goals, such as leveraging Substack’s community features (e.g., Office Hours, Shoutout Threads, Recommendations, guest posts) to grow your audience, sharing tips and tricks for serializing novels on the platform (e.g., target word counts per chapter, publication schedules), and making your Substack shine by polishing those little, easily overlooked details such as the About Page and Welcome Email.

Perhaps most significantly, we discussed the importance of valuing your work and not being afraid of asking readers to compensate you for it.

Finally, toward the end of the call another collaborative writing project — akin to The Great Substack Story Challenge — was hypothesized. Stay tuned for more details…

And if you’ve got an idea for a future Fictionistas post, reach out!

Participating writers

The September chat was the best attended to date, featuring a nice mix of seasoned and fresh faces!

Participating Substacks and the writers who bring them to life:

<Mary’s Newsletter “Only connect…”> by Mary Tabor

Story Hoarder and Stop Writing Alone by Nicole Rivera

Future Thief by Brian Reindel

Caribunkle by Tom Pendergast

Massé Musings by Mark Massé

Stories From Another Realm by Anthony Lora

Fantastical Fiction by Miriam Kresh

Arrivals and Departures by Reena Kapoor

Write More with Simon K Jones by the eponymous Simon K. Jones

The Novelleist by Elle Griffin

Field Research by Amran Gowani

The Warthog Report by William F. Edwards

David Disspain by the eponymous David Disspain

Outsourced Optimism by Tami Carey

hotfemoid by Georgia Berg

Activist Explorer by Juliana Barnet

And your lovely hosts, Story Cauldron by Jackie Dana and Adventure Snack by Geoffrey Golden.

Gratuitous plug

As a first-time Zoom attendee and relatively new Fictionista, the prospect of shameless self-promotion was dangled in front of me if I volunteered to write up this recap. As you can no doubt tell, I have no shame.

I’m a contemporary fiction writer (my dang novel is almost done!) and I also write a weekly satire/dark comedy Substack called Field Research.

My pieces come in a variety of formats including screenplays, traditional fiction, deranged children's books, journal entries, and more, with the common goal of making you laugh — though more likely you’ll cringe. To keep my readers on their toes, every now and then I also write something nice. Heartwarming, even.

I hope you’ll check out Field Research and consider a subscription.


Fictionistas hosts quasi-monthly Zoom calls open to everyone. We haven’t yet scheduled a call for October, but we hope to choose a time that falls in the early evening (in North America). We hope that will allow people with those pesky day jobs to attend, though we appreciate that it may also make it more difficult for those elsewhere in the world.

Also, you may notice new names in your inbox or Substack app. That’s because we welcome all of our members to contribute to Fictionistas by writing articles for our Substack, volunteering to write up our Zoom calls (as Amran did here), organizing activities like the Great Substack Story Challenge, and more.

If you would like to contribute to Fictionistas in any way, just give us a shout and let us know your ideas. We’re a community by and for fiction writers on Substack, so the more the merrier!


Email Geoffrey

Email Jackie