The first rule of thumb about Substack is not to talk about conventional book publishing. Chuck Palahniuk, the author of Fight Club, became the latest big name to serialize their work online by announcing a deal with the rapidly growing newsletter platform.
Palahniuk’s 16th novel, Greener Pastures, will be released in regular installments starting next Monday, at a subscription price of $ 6 per month or $ 40 per year (around £ 4.40 / £ 30).
It follows Salman Rushdie’s agreement to publish his next fiction as a serial novel on Substack, while Patti Smith and Israeli writer Etgar Keret have also signed with the company. Substack, which has based much of its appeal on attracting well-known journalists such as Rolling Stone contributor Matt Taibi, has more than 500,000 customers subscribed to its list of writers.
Palahniuk said he had been approached by Substack to post his next work on the platform and was drawn to an offer of editorial independence. “It’s really appealing, the idea that you don’t have anyone to edit the content of your work.”
Substack paid Palahniuk an initial sum for Greener Pastures and, unlike a typical publishing advance, there are no strings attached to what he writes. The serialization will be interspersed with news from Palahniuk and current and former students at his writing studio in Portland, Ore., As well as lessons on writing and how to navigate the writing industry. editing.
The first three chapters of Greener Pastures will be available for free and will be published on September 27 and October 4. His Substack officially launched at 5 p.m. on Monday with a newsletter featuring trivia and writing lessons. Palahniuk fans can pay $ 200 to be “founding members” of his company.
The 59-year-old writer said Greener Pastures started out as young adult fiction and has grown “really dark and somewhat sexualized.” It portrays “the crisis young people face as they have to choose a career, a partner, and find a home and a job”, and concerns a group of high school students who are offered the opportunity to auction themselves off as successors to billionaires and royalty around the world.
The novel contains characteristic and shaking palahniuk scenes. It opens with a 14-year-old girl scaling the stained glass window of a church past a hostile congregation, bleeding glass cuts as she tries to free a trapped hummingbird. Later in the novel, two parents seek refuge from a forest fire by hiding in their own partially filled septic tank. “I’ve been told that young adult fiction can’t be too dark, but it’s a slippery slope,” the author said.
Palahniuk, whose most famous novel portrays a group of isolated and disgruntled men, hopes his newsletter and serialization will create a more positive online community. Admitting that he is “fed up” with “editing” articles online and prefers more useful internet content such as YouTube tutorials on how to clean patio furniture, Palahniuk said, “If this is just an opinion, I don’t want to hear it. With that, I want to give people the nuts and bolts, the skills that people have taught me over the years. “
In the offline world, Palahniuk signed a three-book contract with Hachette, under which he published his two most recent novels. A book version of Greener Pastures could be printed by the French publisher, who has the right of first refusal. “My readers tend to be complete and they want copies of all the books,” Palahniuk said.
The publishing industry will be “phlegmatic” about well-known novelists heading into the digital world, according to an expert. “In the history of modern publishing, no one has really figured out how to make long-form narrative fiction or non-fiction work commercially unless it’s in book form,” said Philip Jones, publisher of trade title The Bookseller.
The Substack deal comes after Palahniuk found himself “on the verge of bankruptcy” when he was the victim of embezzlement by an accountant working for his former literary agency. Darin Webb, an accountant for Donadio & Olson, was sentenced to two years in prison in 2018 after Palahniuk lost around $ 2.5 million in the fraud.
“I had to sell my house, but Hachette helped me get back on my feet. The Substack deal was not motivated by money, but by my curiosity, ”said Palahniuk.