Looking to begin, grow, and/or monetize your Substack? Start here.
I’ve written 55,000+ words about creating, growing, and scaling your Substack publication. No matter where on your Substack journey you are, The Author Stack can help you get to the next level.
Welcome to the Author Stack. This publication sits at the intersection of craft and commerce, helping writers build more sustainable businesses that allow them to thrive while creating work that lights them up inside. We strive to give authors agency in a world that too often seems intent on stripping it away from them.
This is not so much an article as a guide referencing articles related to the topic of Substack growth, which is the topic I’m against about second most next to Kickstarter.
If you like this guide, I highly recommend at least becoming a free subscriber, if not a paid member. Members can access our complete archives, plus over a dozen novels and all my solo non-fiction books with their membership.
If you’re reading this, then I’m guessing you are interested in building a successful Substack publication.
I’ve written 55,000+ words about creating, growing, and scaling your Substack publication that goes all the way from the very beginning of your journey to becoming a Substack rockstar. These articles used to be behind the paywall, but I’ve unlocked them so you can enjoy them all for free.
Why should you read about, listen to, or care what I have to say?
Well, I’m pretty good at audience growth. I’m a USA Today bestselling author, for one. Additionally, I’ve helped hundreds of author scale their mailing lists.
People generally know me as a fantasy author, comic book creator, and professional speaker, but I’m also a serial creative entrepreneur. Throughout my career, I have owned a movie production company, a photography studio, a Verizon dealership, and more.
Currently, I own Wannabe Press and co-founded Writer MBA with my business partner, Monica Leonelle. Together, we also co-founded the Future of Publishing Mastermind and cocreated the Author Ecosystems.
With such wide-ranging interests and skills, I tend to think about building an author career differently than most writers, integrating lessons from every industry I’ve worked in to help you build a more robust and sustainable business.
I’ve written over 40 novels, yes, but I also write non-fiction, comics, and children’s books. I have written for magazines and newspapers across the country, along with working on licensed content for many companies. I’ve created over a dozen courses and built countless websites. I have worked with hundreds of photography clients and traveled around the world to work on movies. I’ve directed television and written web series. I have produced audio dramas, narrated audiobooks, and hosted podcasts. I’ve spoken at conferences, educational institutions, and private companies around the world, and sat on advisory boards across multiple creative industries. I have licensed books to board game companies and coffee distributors. I’ve had my work optioned by studios and pitched to companies like Nickelodeon and Disney. I have been repped by literary agents and managers and worked with A-list showrunners to package projects for Hollywood. I’ve sold my books into translation and done book signings on multiple continents. I have edited and contributed to dozens of anthologies. I’ve raised close to a million dollars on my own creative projects throughout my career and helped hundreds of creatives build successful careers for themselves.
I’ve touched almost every facet of authorship and creativity and been blessed to be pretty successful with most of them. Even the ones that flamed out have taught me a lot about how to build a path for other people.
Through my work with Monica, though, I’ve come to understand the ever-changing landscape of publishing in a way I never have before.
I’ve also spent hundreds of hours researching successful Substack publications to create these guides for you. Ready to become a Substack rockstar? Then, let’s get into it. There are four stages to your journey.
STAGE 1: Substack-curious
At this stage, you don’t yet have a Substack publication, but you want to know more about how Substack fits into the overall publishing landscape. This first article sums up the scope of the opportunity, and how it fits into where publishing is going in the next 1-5 years.
This second article talks about how you can utilize Substack best for your Author Ecosystem. If you have not taken our quiz yet, then you can do so here.
STAGE 2: Substack novice
At this stage, you’re committed to starting a Substack publication but have no idea how to get started. This 15,000-word article breaks everything down from how to find good imagery to how to develop your voice. It’s everything you need to get ready for launch.
STAGE 3: Going paid
At this stage, you’ve got a publication with a devoted following. You haven’t been getting a ton of subscribers, but people are resonating with what you have to say and you’re ready to start getting paid for it. I’ve written multiple articles that can help you with that.
In this first article, I talk about how to get into the mindset of accepting money for your work and how to “go paid” without feeling gross about it.
This second article shows you how to add additional value to your publication by using sections to house additional content for paid members. This strategy took me about a week to set up, but now it exists in the background helping to build the case for people to become paid members.
Eventually, if you get enough attention, you’ll become a Substack bestseller, and get a little orange checkmark next to your name.
STAGE 4: Growth
By this point, you know what you’re doing on Substack and are ready to grow your publication in a big way. I’ve written multiple articles to help you there, too.
This first article is a 10,000-word guide that shows how to use the Substack algorithm and available resources to get seen by more people and attract them to your publication en masse. Notice how much work we’ve already done getting to the point before we’re ready for this step.
If you find yourself unable to get noticed, then I recommend this post.
Once you’ve optimized getting new subscribers through the Substack network, then it’s time to look outside Substack for even more growth through other platforms and traffic sources. This article lays out my favorite growth strategies that have worked consistently over the years.
Once you’re rocking and rolling on Substack, it’s time to build an ecosystem that works for your business.
Want to go deeper? I consult with authors on a wide range of topics. You can book a call with me below.
Not ready for that? No worries, I have a ton more articles in my archives.
The following articles are behind our paywall, but if you have gotten this far, maybe it’s time to think about becoming a paid member to take your author business to the next level.
After all, it’s a tough world out there. It’s hard to go alone, especially in the hypercapitalist nightmare we find ourselves living in these days.
If you want to do it without burning out, then it’s even harder.
Plus, I share all my best strategies for audience growth behind my paywall as well.
I’ve also got a dozen fiction novels and a ton of additional writing resources available to paid members as well.
On top of all that, you can get a 7-day free trial to check it out before committing. Even if you just subscribe for free all my articles are free to read for the first three weeks after publication. Either way, I hope you get a lot of value from this and it helps you make a great Substack publication.
Who knows? Maybe one day I’ll be subscribing to your writing. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.