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Substack App FAQ: Writer questions answered
Answers to common writer questions about the new Substack app.
While building the new Substack iOS app, we spoke with hundreds of writers to get their feedback. These writers asked us excellent questions. In this post, we share our answers to some of these questions with you.
Will I keep the email addresses for readers who read in the app?
You will always own your readers’ email addresses and be able to export them at any time if you wish. When a new person subscribes to you from the app, you’ll get their email address just like normal.
When are we getting the Android app?
As soon as possible. Readers and writers with Android devices can add their names to the waitlist here.
How do I share the app with my readers?
You can help your readers download the app in a few ways:
We also created a new “Read in the app” button that is easy to add to Substack posts. To find it, click “More” and then “Button” in the toolbar above the post editor. Readers who click the button will be taken to either download the app or, if they already downloaded it, to read in the app.
If you’d like to include images or a video when you share the app news with your readers, the link to our launch video is here and you can copy/paste or save the images directly from this post.
How will paid subscriptions work in the app?
For now, we’ll handle paid subscriptions as follows: a reader can subscribe for free easily through the app. (We expect writers to see an increase in these free subscriptions as app use increases). Once a new reader subscribes from the app, they’ll get a custom email confirmation pointing them to your paid options that they can access from the web just like normal.
There are some legal cases in the works that we are watching closely, and we’re optimistic that there will be a way for readers to pay to subscribe directly from the app at some point in the near future.
Will I keep the email addresses for readers who pause email notifications?
Yes. Writers will always keep their subscribers’ email addresses regardless of whether those readers use the app, the web, or email to receive posts. Writers own their emails lists, and can always take their subscribers (including app readers) elsewhere.
We wanted to give readers who turn on push notifications the option to declutter their email inboxes by choosing to pause emails for new posts. We’ll automatically route new posts back to their email inboxes if they were to uninstall or become inactive in the app.
We hope this option will allow readers to receive Substack posts in whichever medium they prefer without writers losing their direct relationship with readers.
How do readers pause email notifications?
The Substack app allows readers to choose how they prefer to receive new post notifications: app, email, or both. By default, readers who install the app will continue to receive posts in both their email and the app inbox.
When readers install the app, they will have the option to choose whether they want to turn on push notifications.
If a reader turns off push notifications, they will keep getting post emails and see your posts in their app inbox.
If a reader turns on push notifications, they will have the option to pause emails and choose only to receive posts via the app inbox. (The pause emails option is located in account settings.)
If a reader with emails paused becomes inactive in the app, Substack will resume sending posts via email so you do not lose your connection with subscribers.
Will writers be able to publish or view their stats within the app eventually?
Probably! This is just chapter one for the app. To scope what we built, we focused it on the reading experience. In the future, many things can happen, including, yes, possibly publishing from within the app or accessing your stats.
How do app reads show up in the dashboard stats?
When a reader opens your post in the app, it will count the same way that an email open counts in your stats. We’ll make some changes to the language in the dashboard on the day the app goes live to make this calculation clear.
Will you be marketing the app to my readers?
The relationship between a writer and their readers is what powers Substack, not our branding or marketing. We always want to be respectful of that with the products we build and with any marketing we do, including this app.
To share the app with the world, we are doing press and some marketing on substack.com (changing our homepage, for example), but will be wary to intervene between you and your readers.
We hope that you enjoy the reading experience in the app enough that you will be excited to share it with your readers.
What does “archive” mean?
Similar to an email inbox, the archive feature lets readers remove posts that they have already read, or would like to skip, from their inbox. When a post gets archived, it is moved from the inbox to the library tab where these posts are forever accessible.
Will you run into the same problems of other networks and add algorithms?
Substack exists to put readers and writers in charge. It’s of the utmost importance to us that we never get in the way of the direct relationships between a reader and the writers they choose to subscribe to.
That’s why the central screen in the app is the Inbox, and why it works exactly the same way as an email inbox. New posts come in, and readers get notified. It’s as simple as that. When it comes to your subscribers, the app should deepen the direct connection and there won’t be any confusing or complex algorithm getting in the way.
When it comes to readers who haven’t found you yet, we’re optimistic that there could be some thoughtful ways for the app to help with discovery — but still through the lens of the writers that a reader trusts. For example, as comments become more accessible within the app, a reader might discover new publications through the profiles of other readers.
We’ve added new articles to our support center about the app for writers and readers. If you’re having trouble with the app, head there.
If you have questions about how the app works, you can ask those in the comments of this post. We’ll do our best to answer.