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Self-publishing News: Salman Rushdie Turns To Substack

Self-publishing News: Salman Rushdie Turns to Substack

In this week's Self-Publishing News Special, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway looks at what Salman Rushdie's decision to publish on Substack means.

Dan Holloway head and shoulders

ALLi's News Editor Dan Holloway

In the latest self-publishing news podcast, Howard and I talk about new features being launched on social media platforms that enable users to monetize their feeds. And tonight's #indieauthorchat tackles a really important subject. How much should writers self-censor? Join us at the usual 3pm Eastern, 8pm UK time.

Salman Rushdie Turns to Substack…But Should We?

I have talked a lot about subscription newsletters in the past year. Substack is, of course, the platform that comes up most frequently. Journalists have adopted it in significant numbers as a way to get paid for their work following the collapse of paid opportunities in mainstream outlets. There are mixed feelings about whether the world of books shares the vulnerabilities of the world of journalism. This may be one reason why there is far from any consensus about the possibilities newsletters offer fiction or book-length non-fiction writers.

This week saw the highest profile move to Substack yet. It would be hard to get higher profile than Salman Rushdie, a past Booker Prize winner. Rushdie will be publishing his next book on Substack, and people are getting very excited about it! As ever, Jane Friedman has a great piece that takes some of the heat out of the situation. She points out that we are a long way from seeing book and subscription markets converge. She also asks who actually reads online? And the answer is the same as Mark Williams consistently points out. It's largely younger readers. The kind who inhabit Radish and Wattpad. Substack may struggle to find those readers without unlocking new ones.

And talking of monetization, this week saw Twitter’s Super Followers launch. At present, only those pre-approved for the system are able to monetise their tweets. That is certain to expand, so watch what happens. Users can charge $2.99, $4.99 or $9.99, which means, in effect, that you can charge people the equivalent of a Netflix subscription for just one person’s tweets. It’s a fascinating thought though part of me thinks, “good luck with that!”


As I write this, Social Day 2021 is taking place. Check out the Twitter hashtag for fascinating insights on how social media is changing our world. ALLi's own Tim Lewis has been tweeting. One of the things he tweeted out was the way that TikTok has driven new ways of buying fashion.

Coincidentally, just this week, Publishers Weekly highlighted the growing influence of BookTok in driving book sales. Many authors still haven't got to grips with BookTube's role. So maybe we should consider at least finding out more about this new trend while it's still new.

DigitalBookWorld 2021

It's just over a week until this year’s DigitalBookWorld. The programme is lean. There are no parallel sessions, no tracks to choose from. That means you can attend everything. And you can do so for free.

The main thrust of the agenda is what you might expect. There is a lot about audio. And rather than the more generic things of a couple of years ago, it’s audio in conjunction with metadata or the use of AI. And there are some zeitgeisty topics that may be fun, such as the inevitable session on non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The UK is Changing GDPR After Brexit: What Do You Need To Do?

GDPR is one of those acronyms that makes many of us wince. It stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and it enshrines many of the European Union’s regulations regarding online data. It is GDPR that means those of us with websites notify our visitors about the use of cookies, for example. 

I won’t go into too many details here, in part because there are so many misconceptions about GDPR. And many websites that still overegg the pudding in some respects (you really don’t need a page long pop up) and leave it totally unegged in others (if someone wants you not to use their information in certain ways, you should offer them the same functionality as someone who is OK with it and not just shut them out). But one thing that’s certain is that many people across the globe spent a lot of time making their websites GDPR compliant so they could carry on welcoming visitors from Europe.

It is now clear (it was always clear, but it’s now surfacing!) that one of the consequences of Brexit is that the UK is going to plough its own furrow on data protection. This means that anyone who wants to host visitors from the UK will have a different set of regulations at some point in the future. In theory this means a whole lot more work is incoming. In practice, the new regulations are likely to represent a loosening of data security. On the one hand that means if you continue doing what you are doing now, you will be just fine. Of course, there may be a whole lot of other worries on this! I will keep you bang up to date.

Salman Rushdie to publish serial on Substack, DigitalBookWorld talks audio and AI and other top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy… Click To Tweet

Upcoming Conferences and Events

Help us fill this with great online events in the coming weeks and months. I highly recommend this great list of online writers' conferences from Nate Hoffelder, some of which are indie-inclusive.

Bay Area Independent Publishers Association (BAIPA) – Zoom meetings the 2nd Saturday of each month


DigitalBookWorld, 17 Sep


Historical Novel Society Australia, Writing Bootcamp, 16-17 Oct (early bird tickets until 24 September)

Over to You

Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has One Comment
  1. Hello Dan,

    I read your article recently discussing the NFT/Crypto space and the publishing world and I wanted to ask whether you were interested in hearing more about our company that has recently created the first ever novel that is published entirely on blockchain technology and available in a NFT format for consumption. Bookvolts has ‘minted’ a digital first edition of Robinson Crusoe as our test book and will be putting this up for auction over the period from 13th-20th September. We plan to release 99 other ‘classic’ texts and are currently working with a number of contemporary authors to produce their digital first editions.

    As you discuss in your own articles, we believe that this exclusivity in creating smart contracts that relate directly to one owner could have huge ramifications for the publishing industry, challenging the conventional wisdom that digital books have to be linked to kindle subscriptions and unlimited pages read streaming platforms. Through minting a select few digital first editions with potential extras (bonus chapters/forewords/glossaries, audio and video content, author interviews, maps and illustrations etc.) we think that authors can enhance their direct relationship with fans in the same way that the music industry has done for NFT album releases.

    I’d love the opportunity to talk about the potential benefits that NFT technology could bring to readers and authors in more detail, either as a standalone article or the chance to answer some questions in a Q & A format. We have more details of our company below:


    If you have any questions please get in touch.

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