What Is Substack and How It’s Changing the Publishing Game

Calling all content creators! A new digital publishing company is breaking old publishing rules and establishing new ones. Its name? Substack.

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Move over “Big Five” publishers! There’s a new publishing competitor in town stealing away authors from Marvel and DC Comics, and they are not stopping any time soon. Substack is a California-based publishing company that closes the gap between authors and readers. Any bookish person would agree that this sounds like a fabulous idea.


Through Substack, authors are provided payment, tools to self-publish, analytics, and design templates to create content on their own terms. In addition, subscribers can sign up for newsletters and direct content from their favorite creators. They are literally getting books and comics sent straight to their inbox. How insane is that?

Substack takes between 10 and 15% of an author’s earnings from subscriptions, and offers editing, proofreading, art and design, and legal services as part of their packages.


But this service isn’t only a dream come true for readers—it is also a dream come true for content creators. According to Lulu Cheng Meservey of Substack, “Substack is very liberating for authors. They can publish directly to their readers, they have total control, retain all their rights. We build a community around them so they can have direct contact with their readers. They can publish serially, just like Charles Dickens did.” Sounds like the idea of retaining your masters has spread from the music industry to the publishing industry. This idea has already stolen the likes of James Tynion IV, Saladin Ahmed, and Nick Spencer from DC and Marvel.

However, the service isn’t just for writers and content creators who already have a large following. If you have the means, Substack caters to all creators looking to grow their businesses. You can publish blogs, essays, content for a YouTube channel—pretty much any content you can think of can be created through Substack. The platform has already grown so much over the last few years, and it will be interesting to see how it continues to turn publishing on its head.

Looking to read more about how the publishing industry is changing? Check out this article by Bookstr’s own Camila Fagen on how publishers need to become more diverse to survive.