How Substack writers are collaborating
Guest posts, Q&As, interviews, and sharing ideas—writers find they can be even better together
When writers collaborate, they flourish.
Independent writing can feel solitary at times. But writers who forge connections not only foster new relationships that motivate them to keep going but often find that their writing gets stronger too, to the benefit of their readers.
On Substack, more and more writers are collaborating, whether hosting meetups, getting together on Zoom, or finding a partner to sound out and generate ideas with.
Here are some of the latest collaborations we’ve spotted, including through guest posts, guest features, Q&As, and interviews. We hope they will inspire writers who are thinking about reaching out to do so.
Let’s dive in…
Emily Oster welcomes Caroline Chambers to ParentData for How to Cook So Your Kids (Might) Eat
Parent, author, and professor of economics Emily Oster, who writes the pregnancy and parenting dispatch ParentData, invited Caroline Chambers, a professional recipe developer and cookbook author, to an informal Q&A post about parenting picky eaters.
Caroline’s newsletter, What To Cook When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking, shares family-friendly meals that take under an hour to make, with fewer than 15 ingredients. The two discuss toddler food habits, meal rejection, family mealtimes, gentle parenting, and more.
Here, Emily introduces why she invited Caroline to collaborate on the post:
There is no magic bullet for making picky eaters less picky, or family mealtime easier. This earlier post talks about the data behind encouraging kids to try food (basically, be supportive but not bossy). In The Family Firm, I also write about evidence that having children try vegetables with dip can improve their taste for vegetables. Both of these are small interventions, and they do not solve the overarching meal-prep-for-families problem.
In the absence of any really hard “fix this with data” approach, I often find myself looking for help that is flexible. Which is part of the reason I’m a fan of Caroline Chambers, who is today’s interviewee. Caroline will introduce herself below, but you can find her on Instagram and Substack, among other places. She’s an author, a chef, and a parent, and her work is great. We are going to solve your family meal problems. Or at least provide you with one tasty recipe to try. Enjoy!
Hanna Raskin welcomes Alex Enășescu to The Food Section for Local food journalism from 5000 miles away
Substack Local fellow Hanna Raskin analyzes Southern American food in The Food Section. While 5,000 miles away in Iași, Romania, another grant winner, Alex Enășescu, covers a wide range of local news in Iașul nostru. More than nine months after connecting through the program, Hanna shares a report from Alex about a chef from Bucharest feeding Ukrainian refugees. She writes:
Even though we live all over the world, we’re all in the business (and boy, is Substacking a business) of sharing and contextualizing information. That’s what I try to do with The Food Section, and it’s what my new friend Alex does with Iaşul nostru, or Our Iaşi.
Sam Valenti welcomes Sasha Frere-Jones to Herb Sundays for Herb Sundays 37
Herb Sundays writer Sam Valenti invited musician and Substack music writer Sasha Frere-Jones to create a Sunday playlist, which Herb Sundays has become known for. Along with sharing the playlist, Sam also lifts the lid on the creative request to Sasha, who he playfully refers to as SFJ:
I’m not an SFJ historian, in the way I am for, say, Simon Reynolds (Herb Sundays 32) (not me stalking dusty lecture halls), with whom he shares column space often, but I’ve always admired the lower case p panache with which he writes and how he zeroes in on the right thing quickly. I asked Sasha to contribute because he is also a playlist believer and maker, and his photography (quick color-punched-up close-ups of light/detritus/smudges) lends itself particularly well to the tiny square cover format.
Rachel Phipps welcomes Leah Koenig to ingredient for Matzo meal
Food writer and author Rachel Phipps focuses on a single ingredient she loves in her Substack, ingredient. She said it was only fitting to invite fellow food writer and author Leah Koenig of The Jewish Table to an interview to discuss matzo meal, and why it is so essential to Jewish cooking. Rachel writes:
People expect me to have all these Jewish food memories, and I sort of do, but only for really specific things. My Ma-ma’s Lockshen Pudding (written about in 2014 for Food52), the challah, wursht (delicious dipped in beaten egg and fried), viennas, and gefilte fish balls (which sparked a lifelong love, it’s disturbing how many of those things I can put away in one sitting) she and my Pa-pa used to bring from the Jewish delis in Whetstone on their drive down to visit us, the stunning lox bagel from the bakery around the corner when us bridesmaids were getting our hair done for my cousin’s wedding, the salt beef sandwich at the Brass Rail in Selfridges. But my love for latkes, matzo brei, and rugelach? Those all came to me as I explored Jewish cooking in cookbooks as an adult, not from childhood memories. Matzo meal became a store cupboard staple for me because I’d had, just once, my grandmother’s delicious fried fish coated in it, so when I saw it in the kosher section of the big Sainsbury’s on the Whitechapel Road (a kosher section! in a regular British supermarket!) during my first student kitchen supply run, I grabbed a bag.
A few cookbooks have been essential to me gradually working my way through a typical Jewish kitchen: in my student apartment in Los Angeles, one of the four cookbooks I owned was The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, where, through it, Deb Perelman—another Jew who believes that a life without bacon is not a life worth living—held my hand through some of the classics, but ‘exploring my identity through cooking’ only really became something I wanted to do when I was gifted a copy of Leah Koenig’s The Jewish Cookbook by her publishers. I know Claudia Roden’s The Book of Jewish Food is supposed to be the definitive book on Jewish eating around the world, and it is such a brilliant essential (and of course there are the Jewish food writers like Evelyn Rose who fill my family’s shelves but who don’t get much love outside of the Jewish community), but so is Leah’s book for a new generation.
Chaoyang Trap and Far & Near co-publish Lockdown, Normalized
Two Substack publications in mutual support and admiration produced a joint issue on a subject they care about.
Chaoyang Trap, a newsletter collective covering niche and cultural movements on the Chinese internet, collaborated with Far & Near—a newsletter sharing stories created and published by Chinese visual journalists, artists, and filmmakers—to summarize the evolving response to the Shanghai Covid lockdown.
Krish: Hello. This episode of Chaoyang Trap is a little bit different.
Far & Near, our favourite Substack, put together a roundup of stories, artwork, and photojournalism emerging in response to the Shanghai lockdown, and we felt it was important to amplify and co-promote.
The COVID control measures adopted in Shanghai have resulted in tragedy, rage, confusion, and anxiety. Here, Beimeng, Charlotte, and Yan bring us a cross-section of dispatches from the city: photo essays, performance art, video collages, and howls of anguish from residents seemingly stuck in an endless present.
Sarah Miller welcomes Elizabeth Held to Can we read? for This Summer, Start a Family Book Club
“I regularly feature guest book recommendations from other Substackers,” wrote Elizabeth Held in response to our tweet about writer collaborations. “And this week I guest posted in Sarah Miller’s newsletter.” Sarah invited Elizabeth, who writes the book recommendations newsletter What To Read If, to select five family-friendly books readers of all ages could love in a post for Sarah’s publication Can we read?, a newsletter devoted to finding great books for young readers. Sarah introduced the post:
Elizabeth is a writer — and avid reader — living in Washington, D.C. She runs a romance book club and is a member of at least three more. Her newsletter features curated picks that reflect the news of the day and feature diverse writers and genres, and includes twice-a-month Q&As with writers and readers.
When she told me about her family book club, I knew it was something I wanted to share with you, so without further ado…
Stygi welcomes Thomas Johnson to Midweek Crisis for Midweek Crisis x Salty Popcorn
Warsaw-based musician and writer Stygi shared a guest edition of Midweek Crisis, a newsletter mixtape sharing new music from across the web. The post featured Thomas Johnson of Salty Popcorn, a newsletter with movie recommendations, reviews, and bite-size nuggets from the cinematic world. “As an experiment,” wrote Stygi, “we decided with Tom to switch our newsletters’ formats. This issue of the Midweek Crisis belongs to him. And tomorrow, I’ll be hosting the Midweek Crisis Special on Salty Popcorn.” And then Tom took over:
As Stygi mentioned last week, we’re working together on a special crossover edition of our newsletters, bringing film and music together to talk about our favourite soundtracks and scores.
This week Stygi is writing for my newsletter, Salty Popcorn — a bi-weekly ‘microzine’ dedicated to the latest movie news, reviews, trailers and trivia. And for this week’s Midweek Crisis I’ll be stepping in to tell you about my favourite songs to have appeared in films.
I’ve written this edition of Midweek Crisis in true Stygi style (or so I hope!) and you’ll find Spotify embeds and YouTube links for each song below. I’ve even tried to find the exact scenes where each song plays so you can get something of a cinematic experience with this week’s issue — but rest assured there aren’t any spoilers unless otherwise stated.
As a final note, if you’d like to listen to all these songs, in order, then click here for the Spotify playlist.
From here on, you’re in for a treat with a taste of Salty Popcorn…
Adam Roberts welcomes Paula Forbes to The Amateur Gourmet podcast for Collecting Cookbooks! with Paula Forbes
Food writer Adam Roberts often invites chefs, writers, and even actors to discuss “adventures and misadventures in the kitchen” in his podcast on The Amateur Gourmet newsletter. He invited fellow Substack food writer Paula Forbes of Stained Page News to discuss their favorite cookbooks.
Paula and I are such cookbook geeks that this conversation sounds like it’s sped up, but it’s just us being super geeky and enthusiastic.
A few more collaborations we love and you recommended:
Elle Griffin welcomed Kevin Maguire to The Novelleist for Kevin Maguire is the envy of the anti-work movement.
At Substack, we believe independent writing shouldn’t mean being alone. We think these collaborations not only encourage the discovery of great writing but also support larger conversations on the platform.
To further develop writerly cross-promotion and collaboration, we launched the recommendations feature to help drive your readers to the writers and writing you love. Learn more and set up recommendations today.
Have you seen any favorite Substack writers get together to collaborate? Share it with us in the comments!