Think Tank: The future of author communities

Part four of my five-part think tank on the future of fiction.

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This was my favorite episode yet.

Part-four of a five-part think tank I’m hosting on the future of fiction is all about author communities. But before we get to that, you can catch up on the rest of the series here:

In this episode, I spoke with industry game changers Bailey Richardson, head of community at Substack; Rafa Fernandez, community lead at Mirror.xyz; Thad Mcllroy who tracks publishing startups via his blog The Future of Publishing; and Pamela Koehne-Drube, community lead at Novlr.

As you can tell from the fact that this episode is two hours long, we really geeked out on author communities—I learned SO MUCH and I have a lot to think about when it comes to building the community I want to be part of on the internet! Here are just a few of the things we discussed:

  • What are the best spaces for an author to engage with their community?

  • Does every writer also have to be a community builder/leader?

  • Should writers turn comments on? Should writer turn paid comments on?

  • How can writers have more control over who has access to them? What levels of gating should there be between a writer and a reader?

  • Community is so much more than having a chat conversation. What are some of the ways a community can interact with one another?

  • How do communities find each other? What are the pros and cons of algorithmic discovery vs. non-algorithmic discovery?

  • What is “direct traffic” on Substack? What is the power of off-platform community?

  • How should authors own their communities? What does that even mean?

  • What are the pros and cons of anonymous commenters?

  • Platforms are incentivized to boost brands, not people. How can communities become financially valuable to the platforms they live on?

  • Should an author’s platform be in the same place where they write? Or do authors write in one place (Substack/Mirror), market in another (Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, etc.), and have community in another (Facebook groups, Slack channels, Discord servers, etc.)?

  • Can communities take the place of writing?

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You can watch the complete video above or listen to the audio version below.

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The full video is for paid subscribers