from The Free Press

The Fight for the Future of Publishing

Ideological fanatics and fear have crippled the major houses. But new book publishers are rising up to take the risks they won’t.

By Alex Perez

Illustration by Monsieur Collage for The Free Press

On September 19, 2022, Elle Griffin, a freelance writer in Salt Lake City, published the first installment of her new fantasy novel, Oblivion, on Substack, under the title “We will create a more beautiful world.” 

Since then, Griffin, who has written for Esquire and Forbes, has picked up a few hundred paid subscribers. She’s now earning more than $30,000 annually from her writing—more than she’s ever made. 

By contrast, if she’d gone the traditional route and landed an agent and a major publisher, Griffin said, the best she could have hoped for would have been a $10,000 advance, and she would have been lucky to sell 1,000 copies—meaning no extra money. 

Plus, serializing the novel on her newsletter means she can include her 11,000-plus subscribers in the creative process. 

“They can comment on each chapter,” Griffin told me. “I’m crowdsourcing my wisdom from them.” 

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