I am the Head of Writer Relations at Substack. I love words and I love working with people who spend their lives thinking about them.
I live in New York but I am orginally from Athens, Greece, which explains why my last name resembles a UPS tracking number.
I’ve worked in academic and professional book publishing, at a literary magazine, and for a powerhouse agent. I did the MFA thing. I helped put archaeological exhibitions together, curated artistic programs and public events. I have been lucky in my wanderings. Substack is the most interesting thing I’ve ever done.
I don’t know whether it was fortuity or stupidity that landed me on the most interesting thing I’ve ever done at the age of 41. I describe it as a midlife crisis. It may be that I fear feeling too comfortable.
The best description of a Substack I’ve heard came from Michael Moore: there is no description of a Substack yet because it is a new thing. He said, “When television came around, people called radio with images.” Calling a Substack a newsletter is like calling Netflix radio with images.
If you think you have a good description for what Substack is, write to me.
I sometimes call it the most sophisticated form of pirate radio — we give writers all the tools they need to build their own frequency. Those they broadcast for will find them, and they will tune in religiously. The rest can tune them out.
The first writer I introduced Substack to was Roxane Gay. I thought it was a long shot, but she started a Substack soon thereafter. Not because my introduction was good. If anything, it was late. Roxane tends to be ahead of the curve.
Substack gives writers Freedom: creative, financial, artistic. The freedom to write 36 paragraphs on bluebirds. They write for themselves. I think that sort of writing reminds readers that they are readers.
The drawing in the logo and cover image I use is by Edith Zimmerman, who writes Drawing Links. Edith has also written the best celebrity profile I have ever read in my life.
Here I am, being happy, in the Liguria restaurant in Santiago. I was there for Santiago a Mil with friends and colleagues, right before the world ended in early 2020. A revolution was taking place on the streets. International arts festivals are a great excuse to discover new places. I love being introduced to a city through the artists and writers that have chosen to inhabit it.
I love the people who have chosen to inhabit Substack. There are some wonderful writers among them.
So perhaps when you first start a Substack your only subscribers will be your best friend and your aunt. But then one day, a third subscriber will roll in, a stranger. And that person will be there for you, to read you. Does that make you a writer?
Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite Paris Review interviews, with the Greek poet George Seferis:
“This situation of not having a very large audience has something good in it, too. I mean, that it educates you in a certain way: not to consider that great audiences are the most important reward on this earth. I consider that even if I have three people who read me, I mean really read me, it is enough. That reminds me of a conversation I had once upon a time during the only glimpse I ever had of Henri Michaux. It was when he had a stopover in Athens, coming from Egypt, I think. He came ashore while his ship was in Piraeus, just in order to have a look at the Acropolis. And he told me on that occasion: ‘You know, my dear, a man who has only one reader is not a writer. A man who has two readers is not a writer, either. But a man who has three readers’—and he pronounced “three readers” as though they were three million—‘that man is really a writer.’”
Oh, I don’t know. You should start a Substack.