Creepypasta: Horror Published by the Internet

Creepypasta is one of the most popular niches of creative works published to the internet. Several stories in this online literary horror genre have become mainstream, such as the 2018 film Slender Man based off the creepypasta of the same name. However, while many of these stories have evolved to stand on their own in whatever form, their conceptions were heavily reliant on the internet as a medium. In order to understand the origins of these stories and how they got their success, one must learn more about the relationship between creepypasta and the internet.

What is Creepypasta?

Creepypasta is, at a basic level, online horror content. Its name comes from the phrase “copypasta,” which is an internet-born phrase referring to, as Merriam-Webster states, “data (such as a block of text) that has been copied and spread widely online.” The merging of this word and “creepy” refers to the nature of creepypasta as horror images and stories posted online and spread around the internet. In this way, creepypasta somewhat resembles oral storytelling. There is a source for the story (usually an image or ambiguous post), then an established canon writing, then internet users spread the story and add on pieces of their own. An article by Annalee Hewitz called “Has Creepypasta Reinvented Classic Folklore?” posits that creepypasta has the same “fluid and ever-changing” nature as an oral folktale. However, in the case of creepypasta, the story does get to be published (if not in the traditional sense) online.

“Something Awful”

While creepypasta has historically come from various different sources, many of the most recognized stories from the genre have come from the online forum known as “Something Awful.” The Library of Congress digital archive refers to the forum as “a comedy website housing a variety of content, including blog entries, forums, feature articles, digitally edited pictures, and humorous media reviews.” One of the threads on Something Awful is dedicated to original horror stories written by members of the site, and in June of 2009, user Gerogerigegege posted a thread asking for submissions of “paranormal images” created by fellow users. This thread led to the creation of Slender Man, one of the most recognizable and popular creepypasta stories. Additionally, Something Awful was used to spread the “Smile Dog” creepypasta, which began as a single edited image and became a full story with abundant lore. The site is doubtless one of the leading sources for the spread and creation of creepypasta content.

Slender Man

Slender Man, by Eric Knudsen, is a creepypasta featuring a tall, faceless pale man in a suit. The story started when Knudsen, using the username Victor Surge, posted edited pictures of the character to the aforementioned Something Awful thread. He paired these black and white images with a cryptic caption: “We didn’t want to go, we didn’t want to kill them, but its persistent silence and outstretched arms horrified and comforted us at the same time … 1983, photographer unknown, presumed dead.” The creature Slender Man is characterized as an enactor of chaos and violence, usually grooming young children into doing his bidding. Knudsen expanded his creepypasta into an established intellectual property, beginning with lore that he shared on the internet, then with the indie game series of the same name, and leading to the 2018 Slender Man film.

Smile Dog

“Smile Dog” has a far more ambiguous origin than that of Slender Man. The creepypasta comes from a heavily edited image of a dog with human-like teeth that was spread around the internet. This became an established story about the image in which anyone who sees it becomes haunted by dreams of the creepy dog until they themselves show the image to someone else. The author of the official story is unknown, but it is still considered as the official canon. The image itself was shared to Something Awful, like many other creepypasta images.

Creepypasta Vs. Traditional Horror

One question that may come to mind when considering creepypasta is how it is any different from the regular horror genre, like any scary story from a book in the library. The definitive factor here is the internet as a medium. The internet is interactive, which is one of its most definitive features. When one picks up a book from the library, with the author’s name and publishing company emblazoned on the cover, there is a disconnect between the reader and the story that allows a sense of removal from the events occurring in the narrative. The reader may become captivated by the story, and even frightened by what is depicted within, but there is a comfortable padding of reality that comes from a traditionally published work. With the internet, and especially spaces like Reddit or Something Awful, there doesn’t have to be an announcement of the story’s fictional nature. The interaction between the reader and content is far more intimate without the red tape of published works, and strips away some of the comfort provided by a printed fictional work.

Creepypasta and its Legacy

The internet has provided a new avenue for digital publishing that transcends the restraints of traditional publishing companies. Stories like Slender Man and Smile Dog might never have been conceived within a traditional setting, especially given the components heavily reliant on an internet format (such as the original images associated with the stories). As Hewitz states, “creepypasta stories — whether visual or written — are always undergoing transformation.” There is a fluidity to online storytelling that cannot be replicated in a fixed format like a printed book. In this way, creepypastas are more similar to stories shared verbally, and contain the same kind of ingenuity and originality that comes with collaboration of such a large scale.

The Digital Visual Novel

It’s not unusual to see crossovers in technical industries. An innovative tool adapted from the realm of video games is seeing an emergence in digital publishing—the digital visual novel. These formats play like a video game, encouraging users to make decisions and provide visual and audio elements to engage the user in an immersive and interactive experience with the material. Digital visual novels present a unique and engaging medium with promising implications for educational materials in particular. These interactive books have the potential to revolutionize traditional learning methods. As technology continues to integrate into education, exploring the implications of digital visual novels in this context becomes increasingly relevant.

One of the primary benefits of this medium lies in the immersive nature of the visual novel. By combining narrative or expository elements with visuals and real-time decision-making, learners can actively engage with the content. This interactive storytelling approach fosters a more dynamic and participatory learning experience for the user. It can be particularly effective in subjects that require a hands-on, contextual understanding, such as medical or technological sciences, industry technical manuals, children’s educational tools.

The visual novel can be an especially useful tool for providing easy access to learning materials for children or adults with reading or learning disabilities as they can cater to different learning styles. Visual learners may benefit from the rich graphics and illustrations, while textual information caters to those who learn best through reading. The inclusion of audio components adds another layer, accommodating auditory learners. This versatility allows educators to address diverse needs within a single platform.

The branching narrative structure inherent in many visual novels also offers a personalized learning experience. Students can make decisions within the text, influencing its progression and outcomes. This not only enhances critical thinking and decision-making skills, but also provides a safe space for experimentation and learning from consequences. It encourages students to explore different paths and perspectives, promoting a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

The gamification aspect of visual novels can make learning more enjoyable. Incorporating elements like points, achievements, or progression levels can motivate students to actively participate and complete educational modules. This gamified approach taps into the psychological aspect of reward systems, making the learning process inherently more engaging.

Accessibility is another key advantage. Digital visual novels can be easily accessed and distributed through online platforms, overcoming geographical barriers. This accessibility ensures that a wider audience, including remote learners, can benefit from the educational content. Additionally, the ability to update and modify digital content allows for ongoing improvements based on feedback and evolving educational needs.

However, challenges exist, including the need for careful content curation to ensure educational integrity. While the immersive nature of visual novels is advantageous than the traditional printed or electronic text, it also demands a balance to prevent distraction from the educational objectives. Striking this balance requires thoughtful design and alignment with curriculum goals.

Furthermore, the integration of digital visual novels into educational systems may face resistance due to traditional perceptions of gaming as a distraction. Educators and institutions must recognize the educational potential of this medium and work towards overcoming skepticism by demonstrating its effectiveness in achieving learning outcomes.

The implications of digital visual novels as educational materials are vast and promising. Their immersive, interactive, and personalized nature aligns well with modern educational goals. As technology continues to advance, embracing innovative mediums like visual novels can contribute to a more engaging and effective learning experience, preparing students for the evolving demands of the digital age.

Your Book’s Back Matter: The E-book Advantage

Once the story is over, everything after that is back matter, which can include anything from author biographies to indexes. E-books have unique advantages over print books when using back matter as a marketing tool. Back matter is most effective as a passive marketing tool where publishers and authors fill these pages with promotions and other information for their readers.  Passive marketing is a beneficial and desirable form of marketing because, once in place, it requires little to no effort on the author’s part to be effective in selling her books.

Print books have page limits on their back matter because of how the printing process works, and these limits will be especially true for traditionally published books. Physical books are printed in signatures, typically in groups of 16 or 32 pages. If you are traditionally published, how much back matter you can include will be determined by how many pages in the signature are left after the end of your story and if you request to have back matter. A publisher will only sometimes include it on their own, and it needs to fit in whatever pages are left over. Anything longer, and the publisher will want an excellent reason to pay for another signature.

Printing cost is not a problem for e-books, and a digital format does not have page constraints. If you wanted, you could have zero back matter at the end of your e-book, letting the book stop at “the end.” However, if you are self-publishing, you will miss a huge opportunity if you don’t use back matter. A reader who has gotten to the back matter of your book is a reader who has finished your book presumably because they loved your writing and just had to finish the story you were telling them. In book marketing, this position is a good one. Once you’ve drawn a reader in, you just have to keep them wanting more; this is where the use of back matter shines.

As a self-published author, you can leverage your back matter as a marketing tool in many ways.  Where you are in your publishing career affects how best to use your back matter, and the most essential step is to figure out where you want the reader to go next. Is this your first book? Send them to your website or the sign-up page for your mailing list. Are you writing a series, or do you already have multiple books published? Send the reader to the next book of yours they should read with links to that book. Make it easy for them to know what you want them to do. That next step should be the first page of your back matter.

If the next step is sending the reader to buy another of your books, remember when including buy links in your back matter that each vendor will need links to return to their own store. For example, back matter on a book purchased from Amazon should never have links to the Google Play or Nook store. You must create separate back matter for each vendor-specific version of your book. This process seems time-consuming, but you can make it easier for yourself if all your back matter is identical, except for the links.

It is essential to keep the back matter of your book updated. Authors should keep all links to a website, mailing list sign-ups, and other books as current as possible to benefit most from this form of marketing. Independent authors should update the back matter of their e-books whenever they change their website URL or switch to another mailing list servicer.

Keeping all this information current is not necessarily possible with a traditionally published or printed book. Traditionally published authors have to seek permission from their publishers to update back matter, and since new back matter in this format includes a new printing cost, it is entirely up to the publisher if they will make the change.

Even if you publish independently, e-books will always be more effective at marketing with back matter than printed books. Back matter in printed books is static. That copy will always remain the same. An author can update her back matter in future printed editions, which means constantly gaining new readers who will see the updates. Marketing to gain new readers is not passive, which negates using back matter as a form of passive marketing. Changes to an e-book’s back matter automatically happen for anyone who owns the book, giving them access to the new information without any extra work on the reader’s part.

Even though print costs for the number of pages do not constrain e-book length, it is wise to keep the back matter of your book shorter. E-readers track a book’s length by estimated page count or percentage left, and your readers will use these numbers to track their progress through a story.  If too many pages or too large of a percentage is left after the reader sees “the end,” it can have a negative psychological effect, making them feel cheated out of an entire book.

In book marketing, e-books have a clear advantage over printed books, and self-published authors have a clear advantage over traditionally published authors regarding back matter. This passive marketing tool is an excellent way to keep readers already interested in your books from looking elsewhere for the next thing to read.

Incubator Program offering an Edge

The Publisher Desk Incubator program has announced the opening of 2024 applications. It is a program focused on providing digital publishing companies with a comprehensive suite of support and services. The ten chosen digital publishers will receive services and tools valued at up to $50,000, enhancing everything from monetization to SEO and content strategy.

The application is open to all digital publishing platforms and once that has been submitted, they will proceed to the interview portion of the qualifying companies chosen. The program outlines a set of standards that the companies chosen must display in order to be considered for the award. There are no publicized stipulations in reference to location, subject matter, or specific parameters that the company must have in order to qualify. However, they emphasize that the companies that will receive the awards are ones that display a promise of growth and innovation.

“There is a tremendous amount of creativity and drive among publishers online, and we know that it often takes a boost to take a publisher to the next level,” said Chris Ward, Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of The Publisher Desk. “Our program is geared toward growth-minded publishers and entrepreneurs who want to take their content and maximize it in a way that scales their business.”

Incubator Programs

The Publisher Desk Incubator Program is not the only one of its kind. There are many similar organizations offering services and tools to companies that are working to establish, or even expand, their companies that need assistance to navigate the most optimal paths forward.

Some programs are even offered at universities. They open applications to their students. Then dependent upon how many the program has allotted for; those students are immersed in an intense and unique curriculum intended to provide services and tools to encourage mastery.

An incubator program’s purpose is to give companies access to mentorship, investors, and other support to help them get established. In the case of The Publisher Desk Incubator they integrate advanced monetization strategies, proactive website monitoring, and strategic keyword research, all designed to enhance content visibility and optimize revenue.

Another example of an incubator program for digital publishing that companies may consider is Le Labo de l’Edition (the Publishing Laboratory). It is a digital publishing incubator based in Paris. “Le Labo is unique in that it’s developed by and funded by the city of Paris itself, aiming towards educational collaboration and partnership. The goal of the incubation program is to assist traditional publishers to evolve in response to the shift to digital publishing. Le Labo connects members of publishing community to develop a continued strategy for growth and development of the organization.”

Taking the Initiative

With a growing demand for digital content, and specifically for scientific, technical, medical, legal, and business text, competition will become more intense. Enrolling into a program like The Publisher Desk Incubator will offer these digital publishing companies an edge over their competitors. It will also prepare them for the potential challenges that other companies have already faced, offering them an insight into how to prevent falling victim as other publishers have inevitably done.

According to Technavio’s market analysis, “The Digital Publishing Market size is expected to grow by USD 138.76 billion, accelerating at a CAGR of 13.12% during the forecast period.” Speculations cite the “digitization of paperback books is notably driving the digital publishing market.” However, there are still pitfalls that can result in the failure of companies like, “high subscription costs may impede market growth.”

Enrolling into a program that offers insight into these positives and negatives, while also being educated about the various tools and services offered, will provide digital publishers with the power to make educated decisions that will best benefit them. As the industry grows companies that take initiative into reinforcing their growing potential will statistically prove better equipped to maintain relevance and have a higher chance of success.

According to Technavio, if digital publishing continues the current trends, then between 2024 and 2028 the market dynamics speculate that three major challenges will hinder digital publishers. They are:

  • Real-time monetary transactions in digital content entail potential financial loss for consumers if critical data is lost, fueling consumer concerns about the security and privacy of their account details and potentially hindering market growth.
  • Piracy remains a longstanding threat in the content industry, set challenges such as file sharing, copying, and downloading from illegal online sources, emphasizing the critical need for premium digital content protection among the service providers.
  • Illegal downloading of digital content results in billions of dollars in losses, restricting the growth of the global digital publishing market.

The Publisher Desk Incubator program will educate their chosen publishers on how to combat these challenges. The purpose is to provide the most comprehensive information in order to provide the building blocks necessary to be successful in such a booming industry. With the saturation of competition there are ample reasons for publishers to look into the resource that offers such an edge over the competition.

Faster News, Faster Changes

These days most teenagers and young adults do not read newspapers or magazines. Instead, they read news and articles on their smartphones and laptops (O’Brien, 2021). Getting news and media online instead of in print is an example of how “digital media” is changing society. A 2021 magazine article talked about the effects of digital media on jobs like writers, editors and publishers (“Impacts of Digital Media”, 2021). 

The article said that digital media creates both challenges and opportunities for these careers (“Impacts”, 2021). One challenge is that news cycles are much quicker now. Writers have to publish stories very fast on news websites (“Impacts”, 2021). They do not always have enough time to check facts or do proper research before posting articles. Another challenge is that publishers and editors now worry more about fake viral news spreading online (“Impacts”, 2021). When false information goes viral, it makes their publications seem untrustworthy. Fact checkers have to work extra hard to protect against false news (“Impacts”, 2021).

However, digital media also provides new opportunities. Writers can now share news globally within seconds (“Impacts, 2021”). Before the internet, they only reached local readers. Digital tools also allow greater creativity. Writers use multimedia like online videos and podcasts to tell better stories (“Impacts”, 2021). For publishers and editors, digital analytics help them understand reader interests better (“Impacts”, 2021). Online data shows them which types of articles perform best with audiences. This helps guide their decisions.

Overall the article argued modern digital media pushes writers, editors and publishers to be more flexible and adapt quickly (“Impacts”, 2021). Roles are changing. Writing skills now emphasize speed. Editors oversee more fact checking than before. Publishers track online data patterns more closely. Digital technology will likely keep disrupting old media models (“Impacts, 2021”). Jobs depend on adjusting to new internet-centered systems.

In conclusion, a shift toward online media impacts many traditional writing and publishing jobs – often in both favorable and challenging ways (“Impacts”, 2021). These careers face pressure to change accustomed practices. But digital platforms also allow greater reach and insight. Moving forward, striking an balance between print and online formats could be wise until new internet-native models emerge.


O’Brien, D. (2021, January 10). Print media in decline as young people move online. Business Daily.

Impacts of digital media on writing and publishing careers. (2021, March 31). Publishing Perspectives.

Unwrapping Yuletide Fanfiction

Step into the captivating universe of Yuletide, a fanfiction extravaganza that, among many, marks the rhythm of fan-created narratives throughout the year. In a calendar adorned with events like AUgust being dedicated to Alternate Universes, Tropetember focusing on tropes, and diverse fan weeks spotlighting specific fandoms and characters, Yuletide stands as a testament to the creative expression within fan communities. As an annual exchange event, Yuletide invites participants to craft and exchange stories, offering a unique platform for the celebration of diverse and often overlooked fandoms.

Characteristics of Yuletide Fanfiction

Yuletide, an annual fanfiction exchange, follows a process that begins with a nominations stage in September or October, where participants submit their preferred fandoms and characters. Sign-ups follow, lasting approximately one week, during which participants list the fandoms they are willing to write for and those they desire stories from, along with specific characters. The matching process employs an algorithm, pairing each writer with a requester based on common fandoms. Participants commit to writing one story for the fandom they offered and receiving one in return from a secret author who shares their requested fandoms. Additional stories, often inspired by other request letters, are encouraged.

The challenge unfolds over several months, with participants writing a minimum of 1,000-word stories that must include the characters from the recipient’s request. While participants can provide optional details in their requests, such as preferred relationships or story types, these are not mandatory for authors to follow. The process culminates on December 25th, with participants receiving at least one story in a fandom they requested, featuring the characters they specified. Yuletide also incorporates a Yuletide Madness sub-collection, allowing participants to write and share extra stories, and the New Year’s Resolution challenge, which opens after the author reveal, allowing unfilled requests from the main challenge to be addressed.

Yuletide Fandoms

At the core of Yuletide’s charm are the diverse and often unconventional fandoms that take center stage during its annual festivities. This year’s requests exemplify the celebration of the obscure, the overlooked, and the extraordinary. One request delves into the realm of hilarity with “A Civil War Ghost” CharactersWelcome comedy sketch by comedian Brennan Lee Mulligan, a unique and rare choice that captures the essence of a comedy sketch as its source material. Another rare gem on the list is Ring of Swords by Eleanor Arnason, a work with limited fanfiction presence, making it a standout choice for those who appreciate the unconventional. Yuletide not only thrives on shedding light on these less-explored realms but also challenges traditional notions of what qualifies as a “fandom,” encompassing everything from commercials and paintings to Twitter accounts and viral YouTube videos.

Origins and Evolution

Yuletide, an annual fanfiction exchange initiated in 2003 by fan creators astolat and tzikeh, saw remarkable growth from its modest beginnings, with participant numbers soaring from 300 in its inaugural year to over 2,100 by 2009. The event showcased a diverse range of fandoms, including TV shows, anime, books, and more. Yuletide’s evolution was marked by a pivotal transition in 2009 when it shifted its posting platform to the Archive of Our Own (AO3). This move brought about both challenges and advancements, introducing new features like automatic gift notifications and improved editing capabilities while necessitating the import of the entire Yuletide archive to AO3.

The import process, managed by AO3’s Open Doors project group, faced delays but was ultimately completed in May 2014, marking a significant milestone for Yuletide’s history. The migration preserved the event’s legacy, providing a seamless experience for participants and readers on AO3. Yuletide’s journey reflects its adaptability and resilience within the dynamic landscape of fanfiction communities, ensuring its continued growth and presence as a prominent event on the Archive of Our Own.

Community and Collaboration

Yuletide’s unique cultural traditions add an extra layer of festive charm to the fanfiction exchange. The concept of the Yule Goat, introduced by Liviapenn in 2009 but in use at least two years prior, serves as the bearer of Yuletide presents, offering a less religiously affiliated alternative to the traditional Santa. This imaginative departure reflects the inclusive and diverse nature of Yuletide, fostering an atmosphere that transcends typical holiday traditions. The cultural exchange extends beyond the Yuletide participants, with fans often assuming the event’s universality, leading to inquiries like “What did you get for Yuletide?” becoming common, regardless of one’s involvement.

Collaboration and camaraderie play a vital role in the Yuletide experience, facilitated by the unofficial IRC chatroom established since 2004 and the later addition of a Discord server in 2017. These spaces become lively hubs in the weeks leading up to the Yuletide deadline, serving as platforms for participants to encourage each other, share in the collective hysteria and humor, and navigate the pressures of impending deadlines.

The collaborative spirit extends to the signup process, where fans pair up writers and fics through a sorting algorithm. “Dear Santa” letters help writers unfamiliar with their assigned fandoms, creating a supportive atmosphere for participants. The 24-hour period between the final submission deadline and Christmas Day also sees the creation of last-minute “treats” for giftees in Yuletide Madness, showcasing the dedication of the fanfiction community.

Challenges and Controversies

Despite its success, Yuletide has encountered its fair share of challenges, particularly in managing the logistics of hosting an extensive repository of fanfiction. The division of submissions between two sites and occasional navigation issues have posed logistical hurdles. Additionally, debates have arisen over the definition of a “rare” fandom, and concerns about resource usage on the Archive of Our Own (AO3) servers have fueled intermittent controversies.

In an effort to promote diversity and representation in Yuletide fanfiction, the Misses Claus Challenge has been introduced. This challenge aims to highlight women in Yuletide narratives by incorporating the three-pronged Bechdel test as its criteria. Stories are eligible for the challenge if they either pass the Bechdel test, involving two women engaging in a conversation unrelated to a man, or if the story features a female protagonist whose narrative centers on elements other than her relationship with a man. Participants who successfully meet these criteria are encouraged to label their stories with the “Misses Claus” tag, contributing to the broader goal of fostering inclusivity and diverse storytelling within the Yuletide community.

Preserving The Genre: Pulp Fiction in the Digital Age

“Don’t judge a book by its cover!”

Nearly everyone has heard the proverb at least once in their lives—and not without good reason. It is a little piece of wisdom meant to impart an invaluable and universal life lesson: the value of people or things should not be determined on a whim based off on first impression. After all, appearances can be deceiving and it’s what is inside that truly matters most.

But this proverb is rarely applied to actual books and their cover art. In fact, studies and polls show that readers really do often judge a book—even an eBook—by its cover. While this may lead to readers potentially misjudging a great book and missing out entirely, there are some cases where judging a book by its cover are entirely appropriate, such as good old fashioned pulp fiction paperbacks.

These paperbacks are most notable for their whacky and eye-catching cover art, meant to convert lookers to buyers as they gawked at the provocative illustrations. Illustrations including sexy women in revealing clothes, men brandishing weapons, and even graphic depictions of violence—all covers arguably not commonplace today, but also much too detailed to translate well to a thumbnail image. But this doesn’t mean that pulp is incompatible with the digital age.


America’s pulp fiction period officially began in 1860 and fizzled out in 1955 after enjoying a couple decades of particularly heightened popularity around the time of the Great Depression. Industrialization brought the emergence printing technology that would vastly change the relationship between the average American, much more literate than before, and books forever.

The printing industry sought to capitalize on growing literacy rates and committed to making books more affordable by printing on wood-pulp paper instead of the rag paper which was in popular use at the time. Unfortunately, while wood-pulp paper was cheaper than its rag paper counterpart, it was definitely not as stable due to its acidity and cellulose composition. However, the instability of the paper was not an issue at the height of pulp’s popularity. Wood-pulp paper was incredibly cheap, meaning paperbacks could be purchased by middle-class Americans for mere pocket change, often just $0.25. They were meant for voracious reading, quick turn-and-burns as opposed to something designed to show off on a bookshelf.

Authors also benefitted from the pulp era. The period marks a significant time of innovation in literature and made way for the introduction of genre fiction never before seen on newsstands before—genres like hardboiled detective, western romance, and even science fiction. The era even lays claim to some prolific names in literature, such as sci-fi legends HP Lovecraft and L. Ron Hubbard, as well as detective story legends Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

While not scandalous by today’s standards, Pulps came under heavy criticism in American society for their contents, which frequently included crime, sex, and violence, among other exploitative themes. However, Pulp consumers couldn’t be deterred—amidst a bleak social landscape and the lurking Depression, readers simply craved escapist fiction. It is a craving that is on the rise again today, as evidenced by the increase in adult fiction sales year-over-year. The interest in adult fiction combined with our tendency to be nostalgic seems to suggest that modern society could see the return of Pulp, which even found itself trending on Twitter earlier this year.  

But in the digital age, does the Pulp-curious reader have the option of an authentic experience, or will they have to settle for a watered down and sterilized version of Pulp? Thankfully, there are some options—even with cover art fully intact.


Unfortunately, the use of wood-pulp paper has made the digitization and preservation of these books a daunting task. Unlike the process of scanning a typical book to .PDF, the groups that dedicate themselves to this mission are often faced with unique challenges posed by the wood-pulp due to its composition and age. Often, there are creases that need to be flattened, tears that need to be mended, or even multiple fragments that need to be put back together as a whole.

Thankfully, the Library of Congress, began a preservation initiative for their digital archive, which contains more than 14,000 different pulp titles. Initially, the Library began the task of digitizing by moving the paper-printed pulps to microfilm, or tiny little photographs. The issue with microfilm however, is its inability to properly preserve color intensity and image detail.

The Library recognizes the limitations of microfilm preservation and quickly resolved to split preservation duties between two divisions: the Collections Conservation Section, which is responsible for preserving the covers, and the Preservation Reformatting Division, which is responsible for the text.

Along with the Library, there are private organizations that dedicate themselves to digitizing these delightfully weird pieces of American literary history. Websites such as Radio Archives offer the pulp-curious reader not only digitized copies of pulps, but PDF, Mobi, and ePub formats, fully bringing pulp into the digital world and onto our eReaders—and just in time.  

Digital Publishing: Making Your Work More You

Digital publishing contains a broad field of topics, platforms, and, most of all, people. With the internet being more accessible than ever, the density of creators and writers makes it difficult for aspiring authors to be recognizable. Names, titles, and paragraphs tend to blur together which makes the path to a successful digital publishing career challenging.

It won’t be your name that needs to stand out or a fancy title but the writing itself. It needs to be clean, grasping, and sprinkled with hints of your personality. The only way to make people recognize you or prefer you over the millions of other writers is to get a firm grasp of how you can make what you write a part of who you are.

Trying to get a digital publisher and reader’s attention isn’t impossible. Here are some pointers, tricks, and tips on how to better your odds of publication and success.

Your name doesn’t matter.

This sounds harsh, but most readers won’t read your name until they are finished with the article. The same practice goes for hiring paid writers on digital forums. Typically during the hiring process, the hiring manager will black out names and go strictly off of what is written. With this in mind, you need to write everything digitally as if the reader will never know your name.

When writing, think about what will make you stand out. These things can range from humor to writing mechanics, or general personal style. Do you write more professionally or more to entertain? These are questions you need to consider before turning in a resume with a work attached. Since this is digital, these hiring agents will likely not see you in person until they offer an interview. So what can you do with your writing alone, with no name or face, that will make a publisher want to publish your works or a consumer enjoy you over others?

The opportunities to stand out are endless with your digital content. Try starting an article with a story or hook. It also never hurts to research the digital company and see the topics they are speaking about as of late. You could even write an article written in their format.

Try these practices the next time you apply or publish online. Your name is important but, without a face, it doesn’t hold weight in a digital space.

What do you like to write about?

A great way to build a following and be recognizable is to figure out what you are passionate about in writing. Do you want to publish digital books, write articles on history or art, or create and add to science journals? This is not to say you can’t love and write about many different interests, but rather find a category you feel you can add the most information and insight to.

Your name might not be the first thing they look at but after a few articles with your name on the same general subject, it will begin to stick. You will begin to be recognizable based on a personalized subject you enjoy. Take something you love and make it into the art you write. Embodying your individuality is what publishers are looking for. The trendiest things might get the most initial clicks, but if your personality isn’t in it, you’ll just be another article and writer of a million others.

Don’t just write about anything and everything others are focusing on. If you do find the topic interesting, find your own spin or idea that others haven’t thought of. Be original with your ideas and what you find interesting. A good rule of thumb: If you don’t like it, likely they won’t either.

Practice does really make perfect.

Being knowledgeable and skilled will make you stand out more than anything stated above. Grammar, style, and a flowing structure are detrimental in personalizing your work, and to perfect this, practice is needed.

Publishers likely receive hundreds of applications and fifty percent of what is sent is likely lacking in these departments. Be the star that shines through. It doesn’t just make you insanely more credible on the subject you are discussing, but it also shows professionalism and respect. Showing so much attention to these finer details shows the digital publisher you care about what you are writing. It shows you take this field of work seriously at a time when it is still growing its legs.

Digital publishers want people would care. Be the person who personalized their work in the most respectful way possible: with dignity.

You’ve Got This!

Breaking through in digital publishing isn’t an easy task. It takes a lot of time, effort, and heart to really personalize and stand out. The best thing to remember is to write what you love, sprinkle in bits of personality, and respect it enough to be credible. Through these principles, no one will be able to read it without thinking of you. Best of luck!

Substack: Academia Transformed

Substack is taking the world of academia by storm. In the past couple of years, writers like Rayne Fisher-Quann, Zeynep Tufekci, and others have utilized the platform to publish think-pieces, essays, and articles that have since been instrumental in academic and journalistic discussions. The website, despite having its share of copycats and naysayers, continues to grow. With this growth has come a sense of respectability, especially in terms of its forward-thinking members whose essays and articles have begun to be cited and included in academic discussions.


Substack’s homepage refers to itself as a “subscription network for independent writers and creators.” Launched in 2017, the website was designed to be a platform for writers to post their work and garner a subscription-based, newsletter-style audience of readers. Since then, the site has flourished and evolved into something that has drawn in creators of all kinds. Substack supports the work of writers in a vast range of fields and topics, with its home tab listing categories such as Culture, Technology, Business, Travel, and many more. Its subscription feature allows writers to select which posts they want to be publicly accessible and which they want to make available only to paying subscribers, who contribute a monthly fee for this access.

Online Academia

The internet has a reputation for making worlds once-exclusive accessible to millions, and academia is no exception. The academic field is one with a history often considered pretentious and stuffy, only accessible to a select few and rather narrow-minded in its culture. An article by Armaan Verma for The Daily Gamecock states the following: “Whether it be paywalls, complex or even downright incomprehensible papers, or even historical bias towards upper class men, academia has always found a way to make itself less accessible to the common person.” However, the article shifts to posit that academia can be made more “relevant” through the internet. With the resources the internet provides, academia has the opportunity to widen itself and develop a more expansive and well-rounded culture. Substack and its diverse platform of writers seems to be a promising addition to this effort.

Substack Academics

The following are examples of the writers whose works have been part of wider academic discussions over the past few years.

Rayne Fisher-Quann is a Canadian writer and cultural commentator. Her works on feminism, politics, sociology, and other topics on her Substack account internet princess have received acclaim in contemporary academic and commentative circles. She has spoken at universities like McGill and currently has a following of over 70,000 subscribers on Substack. Some of her influential pieces are the following: “standing on the shoulders of complex female characters” (about the glorification and romanticization of depression in young womanhood through the example of aesthetics and fictional female characters), who’s afraid of amber heard? (a think-piece concerning society’s treatment of Amber Heard and other woman who weren’t “perfect victims”), and the pain gap (a breakdown of the dynamics of toxic relationships and how women suffer).

Zeynep Tufekci is a Turkish sociologist and professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has an online news publication known as Insight on Substack, where she posts articles, essays, and think-pieces. She is also the author of the book Twitter and Tear Gas. She is a contributing writer to the New York Times and The Atlantic. Some of her influential pieces are the following: “Long Covid, The Long History Version” (about “complex chronic conditions and post-viral syndromes”) and “On the Alex Jones Verdict: The Very, Very Lucrative World of Lying” (about the Alex Jones trial and its societal implications).

Brian Klaas is an American political scientist and global politics professor at University College. He is also a contributing writer to The Atlantic. His Substack account is The Garden of Forking Paths, where he posts articles and essays about various educational topics for his audience of over 20,000 subscribers. Some of his influential pieces are the following: “The Biggest Hidden Bias in Politics” (about the American political system and its main failings), “It’s the Guns.” (about gun violence and gun control), and “The Evolution of Modern Dogs” (about the evolution of dog breeding and its societal implications).


The internet is a great equalizer. Since the dawn of its existence, online publications have revolutionized the fields of journalism, publishing, and academia. The new influence of Substack in online journalism and publishing in general sets a promising foundation for an era of academia that is more diverse and more informed. Perhaps, as it continues to grow, the platform will establish itself as a giant of reputable publications and educated opinion-pieces.

Issuu – What Is It?

Issuu may be the newest major innovation in digital publishing. The platform has grown immensely since its establishment in 2006, especially within the last decade after moving its headquarters to Palo Alto in California. Issuu began as a start-up in Denmark before becoming, by its own claim, the industry-leading digital publishing platform. The platform has other offices in Denmark, Portugal, and Germany as well. 

In September of 2021, Issuu received $31M from Capital IP as financing. Capital IP is an “investment firm focused exclusively on providing innovative financing solutions to emerging and transformative technology companies.” Capital IP believes Issuu is worth investing in which, if their growth in digital sales or monthly page views mean anything, is definitely the case. The platform boasts, as of 2021, over four billion page views monthly. In 2020, Issuu’s growth in digital sales equals 840% growth, primarily due to independent creators. 

Issuu is a digital publishing platform available for free to anyone wishing to publish their content digitally in an accessible, easy way. Medium, when describing Issuu, indicates that they are most widely known for their digitally published magazines. However, Issuu offers a variety of services for its users to take advantage of. These include digitally publishing articles, flipbooks, social media posts, videos, and gifs. They also offer numerous features to aid in the digital publishing process such as adding links, embedding publications, collaboration technology, statistics, etc. 

Not every feature Issuu provides is available for free, however. The platform offers different plans depending on the company or individual’s needs. The free plan offers the ability to digitally publish articles, gifs, videos, and flip books. It also provides features such as using provided flipbook templates, sharing your unique content through links or by ordering print copies, creating a public profile page where you can manage your stacks (like bookshelves) and others can see all your content in a single place, seeing 30-day statistics, uploading files from other websites such as Canva, etc. That is a lot of features available with the basic, free plan, but of course paid plans will provide even further aid to those wishing to publish digitally. 

Besides the free plan, Issuu offers three paid plans: Starter, Premium, and Optimum. These plans offer different amalgamations of features on them such as further customization options, further content creation options, more options for customer support, etc. However, collaborative technology allows Issuu to offer two plans specifically for teams. The plans vary in features that companies can take utilize such as multiple workspaces and seats for employees, a dedicated customer success manager, custom training, and some others. 

Issuu’s free plan provides a great opportunity for nonprofits or new companies to create content to be digitally published at a low cost (free). Nonprofits often deal with the problems of few staff and limited funds so the free option of digital publishing for their content to be advertised and distributed is a great option. Nonprofits can also benefit from Issuu’s paid plans if they’d like some of their content to be monetized for fundraising purposes. Also, a nonprofit organization can benefit from Issuu’s paid team plans which would allow multiple people from the nonprofit to work on their publication simultaneously.

An aspect of Issuu that is discussed on multiple sites is their user-friendliness. Many first-time users of the website found the site easy to navigate, utilize, and export from. Ease-of-use is extremely important for a digital publishing website claiming to allow customers the ability to digitally publish their content themselves through its technology. Issuu’s relevance as a digital publishing platform has become greater in more recent years as technology advanced and reliance on the Internet with its many benefits increased. With Issuu’s relevance being greater, more users will likely seek to use the platform as the concept of digital publishing grows wider, meaning the platform’s user-friendliness will be even more essential as individuals with little-to-no training in digital publishing will be using the site. 

Issuu may be a new name to many as digital publishing as a concept is relatively novel as well. However, Issuu as a platform for digital publishing will likely become larger as many seek to publish their content digitally. The site fills a gap in terms of accessibility. Digital publishing as a concept gives the impression that publishing one’s own content would be easier than taking a traditional publishing route, but many are still left unsure of how to go about publishing content digitally. Issuu provides an easy platform to publish content digitally whether it be videos, newsletters, magazines, gifs, or flip books. Hopefully, this article succeeds in providing an overview of Issuu and how it can be utilized by many.