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The Rise of Newsletter Subscriptions, Web Novels, and the Future of Publishing

In certain writing circles, SubStack and Ghost are popular ways of getting writers’ work into a email newsletter format. These sites promise that the writer’s rights remain with them, and, supposedly, revenue can be made through these sites. Ghost in particular sells itself as being a place where a writer can build up their brand. Furthermore, places like Royal Road and Wattpad are places where writers can post their work as web novels, which then might be picked up by a publisher. These places may accept donations on the writer’s profile so that they can make money from their craft.

The topic taker should research the following things for this topic:

Does writing a web novel or posting writing on a subscription service affect the writer’s process?

Is this way of allowing writing to be placed out into the world good or bad–for example, does creating a web novel cause the writer to burn out?

Are places like these sites using writer’s aspirations for free revenue on their behalf? In other words, are these sites promising something like notoriety or a path to publishing that they cannot keep?

Finally, does writing for sites like these mean that the publishing industry might be going through a change, or, are sites like these a new way of gatekeeping making money off of writing/getting work published?

The topic taker can also talk about problems within traditional publishing and the toll it may take on a writer and their psychology or process of writing if they wish as well.

Relevant links for research:

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  • Add some descriptions to the links for the writers. – Sunni Rashad 3 weeks ago
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  • The first link is to Royal Road, a place that posts up web novels, and typically markets lit-RPGs. Writers can take donations for their writing, but, they have to get noticed first. The second link is to Substack, a subscription based service that writers can use to build a email newsletter platform. They claim that you can make decent money off of this system. The third link is to a site debunking the Substack claim of making money from their platform on their writing. This site claims that Substack pays a certain amount of writers enough money to live on to make Substack look profitable. The fourth link is to Ghost, which claims to help writers build a base/brand for their writing, though, like Substack, you can monetize subscriptions and possibly make money from with enough of an audience willing to pay. – SiothrĂșn 3 weeks ago
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  • A study of this new way of getting one's works out to the public would be very interesting indeed. Just the question on the writing process could be explored with depth. Two major shifts I can perceive, compared with traditional publishing. Firstly, the writer is self-publishing, not dependent on being accepted by a publisher. This seems to be the democratisation of publishing. Secondly, the writing process now incorporates instant feedback from readers, at each stage or instalment of the writing, unlike in the past, when authors only get to know critics and public opinions after their works have been launched by a publisher, after the time lapse from the actual writing process. Would this constant feedback from public opinion beneficial to the author? Should the author obey their own artistic vision or popular demands? – Lydia Gore-Jones 7 days ago
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