We’ve created a Substack. If you’re not familiar with Substack, it’s a platform for newsletters and other kinds of long-form essays. It’s a subscription-based service with the goal of enabling writers to monetize their writing. But that’s not why we’re using it. Our Substack is free and will remain so. Nor do we plan (at this time) to use Substack for distributing content. Instead, we’ll be using it simply for email announcements.
We chose WordPress (WP) as a platform for our journal because it offers an incredible array of options to facilitate communication. You’re reading this message in one of them, a blog post. Technically, we could have EO completely self-contained within WP. But doing that limits our reach in that you, the readers and contributors, need to come to us in order to engage.
Email Remains the Killer App for Communication
Managing and editing a journal is mainly done through email. Much of that will necessarily be one-on-one with our contributors, but using some kind of group email system will save us a lot of time and effort, especially as we grow. So, we’ve been looking into various email list solutions, like Mailchimp, Mail Poet, or the WP Newsletter Plugin, and Substack beats them all. It’s free, incredibly easy to configure and use, and it’s a system that won’t lock us in, meaning if we ever decide to stop using it they make it easy to migrate to a different platform.
What About Social Media?
We don’t like or use Facebook. We have an Instagram account but that’s not built for written communication. Twitter is… interesting. We’re active on Twitter and it’s perfect for some things but it’s highly problematic and only likely to get worse with its new owner. We’re not leaving Twitter but we don’t want to use it as a primary channel for connecting with our contributors and readers. Outside of the big three, there aren’t any other social media services that bring any value to a literary journal.
We Want to Grow
As it is now, Substack already has features we might grow into. If our use of it is successful and we get enough subscribers, we could easily create multiple distribution lists. Say, one for news and announcements, one for contributors, and possibly even one for content distribution. Curiously, as Twitter seems to be on the verge of imploding, Substack is positioning itself as a platform for enabling the creation of communities. Many of the problems on Twitter may result from the fact that its greatest strength is also its biggest weakness. We go there because it seems to be where everybody is but do we really want to be in a community so large that it lacks the very things we seek out in community: common interests, shared values, and mutual aid and support?
Who knows if it’ll work, but we have to start somewhere. We hope you’ll join us.
he/him – Editor of Exist Otherwise. Poet and photographer. Survivor of CPTSD from childhood emotional and sexual abuse. cc bovarisme is a pseudonym and my avatar is a self-portrait of the gender non-conforming French artist, Claude Cahun. If you want to know more about me you may use the submission form or send email to existotherwise at gmail dot com.