When it comes to bookselling, a Substack offers the most targeted promotion a writer can have, precisely because it is not advertising: writers are speaking to their most passionate readers who have already expressed keen interest in their work.
Substacks sell books at every stage — from preorder to backlist
“An Ohio poet’s (decidedly feminist, undeniably lyrical) memoir is #3 on the hardcover nonfiction list…I can say this now without a doubt: We did this. Whether you preordered the book, requested it from your library, came to an event with friends, bought a copy or two or three for people you love, or just helped spread the word—thank you. I hadn’t even allowed myself to dream of this, but here we are.”
“There is no doubt in my mind that this happened because of Burnt Toast. You preordered, you regular ordered, you library-requested, you left reviews, you talked the book up on social media and in your group texts, you did this.”
A Substack is the writer’s property: the email list, content, and payment relationships (should you choose to monetize) is the writer’s and the writer can take all of it with them if they ever decided to leave the platform.
A direct line to your biggest fans
A Substack grows over time and with every post a writer sends out. Readers become your best promoters: they forward and share the emails and posts, and this results in an ever-growing email list.
Subscription publishing made simple.
It is not technical: even the most luddite writers can easily set up and use a Substack. We handle the admin, billing, and tech so you can focus on doing your best writing.
“I realized that the Substack transcends the book and that I had perennial evergreen things that I wanted to talk about. My readers helped me realize that.”
Frequently asked questions about starting and running a Substack that helps authors sell books.
What do other authors publish on Substack?
Writers use their Substacks to explore ideas, discuss their books, share their creative process and behind-the-scenes information with their readers, and even workshop with them ideas for future books.
How do I move my audience to Substack?
If you already have an audience on Mailchimp, Ghost, Medium, Tumblr, Wordpress, or another platform, you can easily import your posts and your email list in the Substack setup process. For guides on how to move an audience from Instagram to Substack, go here, and from Twitter, go here."
How is Substack different from social media for book promotion?
Similar to social media, Substack provides a live, organic space where a writer can gather their most committed readers and continue the conversation about their books, long after the spotlight moves away from them after publication date. Comments and community tools encourage a sense of community amongst supporters.
Unlike social media, however, on Substack writers have a direct relationship with readers. Algorithms don’t decide who sees your work—posts are delivered directly via email. This means that while the average Instagram account sees an engagement rate of 1% to 5%, on Substack we see open rates in the 30% to 70% range, depending on the size of the mailing list. Book links in posts of Substack writers get click rates ranging from 5% to 15%, compared with the typical 0.08% to 0.1% on social media. After running an experiment with a bookseller, one Substack writer found that 26% of the readers clicking on her book link actually bought the book—another record-breaking number compared with book reviews from magazines and other outlets.
Do I own what I publish on Substack?
You will always own your content and your relationships with your subscribers and your intellectual property. We make it easy to import and export your archive, email list, and payments information to and from other platforms.
Will Substack help me grow my audience?
Yes. More than 40% of all new free subscriptions and around 20% of paid subscriptions to Substacks come from within our network. This is happening because Substack is a vibrant ecosystem of writers and readers. Writers here connect and collaborate with their peers, and help grow each other’s audiences. Today there are tens of millions of people active on Substack every week, they understand what it means to subscribe to a writer, and they are open to discovering new writers to fall in love with. Learn more
How much does Substack cost?
On Substack, writers can get paid instead of paying for an email newsletter. Substack is free to get started. We don’t make money unless you do. If you turn on paid subscriptions, Substack will keep a 10% cut of revenues for operating costs like tech development and customer support. When you turn on paid, Substack’s platform fee is 10%, and the credit-card payment processor, Stripe, also takes a fee, of 2.9% plus 30 cents per transaction.
I work at a publishing house and want to help my writers join Substack. How do I get in touch?
If you are a publisher and would like to connect with us to help onboard your authors to Substack and claim your affiliate links, please write to us at: email@example.com, indicating the name of the publisher and imprint in the subject line.