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Watch the September Fictionistas meeting

Plus a handy recap

On Monday 11 September we held the first Fictionistas social at a specifically European-friendly time of day. I had wondered if it would only be me and

chatting to each other, but I needn’t have worried.

It was a solid turn-out with attendees from multiple continents and countries including the UK, France, US, Macedonia and Taiwan. For an hour we indulged in nerdy Substack and fiction writing chatter, which can be watched above on catch-up.

There’s usually a Fictionistas video chat at least once a month, so make sure you subscribe to not miss the next one.


  • Three years since covid, unmuting on a video call is still a massive pain

  • The first topic was the Substack app:

    • Most attendees really like the app as readers

    • It helps to bypass email spam problems

    • It helps to maintain inbox zero by moving newsletters into the app

    • and had some reservations about the potential for the app to lock-in readers and take power away from writers

    • What happens if you decide to leave Substack and go to, say, Ghost? If your readers are trained to only use the app, they might not follow you easily

    • Along similar lines, there was some consternation about the new ‘follow’ option on Notes, and how it benefits Substack more than writers

    • There was some discomfort with Substack (potentially) moving in the direction of traditional social media

    • Substack search….is not great (e.g. searching for an unusual term like a science fiction book title that is being serialised on Substack tends to show results that are….a bunch of US politics blogs)

    • All that said, it was noted by several of us that only a tiny percentage of our readers actually use the app

  • We followed up with a discussion about podcasting and audio in general

    • Discussion about the difference between podcasting and audio in posts

    • How to provide exclusive audio for readers without doubling up on posts

    • Best not to use the built-in audio recorder if you can help it, as quality isn’t great

    • Simon mentioned a Blue Snowball being a good, cheap mic option (or it was a few years back, at least)

    • You can keep the tech end really simple, no need to spend lots on fancy stuff

    • Lots of interest in narration and audiobook options

    • Audio is good for opening up your Substack to people who might not have time/inclination to read, but would be able to listen

    • Some discussion of how paywalls interact with audio

  • Also thoughts on the usual paradox of wanting to paywall your work, but also wanting to maximise audience

    • The idea that for fiction the thing to paywall is you, ‘the writer’ - behind the curtain access is the perk

  • The question was raised about how publishing online interacts with the wider literary magazine world and publishing: is there a way for them to work together more, rather than slightly cancelling each other out?

    • This will be made a main topic at a future Fictionistas

  • There was also interest in our writer feedback sessions

  • I have now realised I wave my hands around far too much on camera

Thanks again to everyone for coming! Keep an eye on Fictionistas for detail of the next meet-up.

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Virtual Meetups
Save-the-dates and recording/recap posts for our ongoing virtual meetups.
Simon K Jones