Interview with Frederick Woodruff from WOODRUFF
Time for a new interview! (If you’re new to Sub Pub, feel free to browse the archive for several previous interviews. If you’d like to be interviewed about your newsletter, please leave a comment or email me.)
This interview is with Frederick Woodruff, whose newsletter is appropriately named WOODRUFF.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Two worlds dominate my imagination, pop culture, and the occult—subjects like astrology and the Tarot. Finding ways to blend them up for the reader fascinates me.
How would you describe your newsletter?
My one-line description reads: Pop culture, astrology, the Tarot and Fate.
Why did you decide to publish on Substack?
After publishing online for the past 25 years I sensed that websites were turning into relics. Texting and newsletters are the new normal. I’d read about and watched Substack’s evolution for a couple of years. I knew it was time to change my business model. I did some ‘comparison shopping’ and liked Substack’s ease of publishing and its spacious vibe. Recently Substack's co-founder Hamish defined the platform's ethos as shibumi—a Japanese word that refers to an aesthetic of simplicity and unobtrusive beauty. And, yes, that.
What has your experience with your newsletter been like?
Great. Friends have asked me to stop talking about Substack.
What have you liked most about your experience on Substack?
The limitations. Meaning, I come from an art direction background. Having fewer options to design a post forces me to get on with the writing. Which means I get more posts out to my subscribers. A win-win.
What have you liked least about your Substack experience?
Customer support. Though I gotta give their team props, they are getting better with turnaround time. And the guys and gals are always friendly. But a necessary feature that’s woefully missing is an affiliate program of some sort. I’m looking forward to that improvement soon.
How have you let people know about your newsletter?
Fortunately, I’d grown a good-sized mailing list on my AstroInquiry.com website. Too, when I’m out and about on the island I’ll ask people I interact with: “Would you read a newsletter about pop culture that’s interpreted through an astrological lens?” Most of them say yes and I sign them up right there.
Is there a post in your newsletter that you consider most memorable, and if so, why?
Oh damn, there have been some choice ones. I’ll be annoying and list two. Right after the Capitol insurrection in January, I did a close read on the rioters’ fashion choices.
And my essay on the world’s most popular Tarot deck (the research for which put hair on my chest) is one I’m proud of. A publisher contacted me after that mailed out and we’re currently looking at ‘options’.
What do you hope for your newsletter in the foreseeable future?
Something that occurred to me after publishing on Substack for a couple of months was how much I enjoy being part of the Substack ‘family.’ Substack’s philosophy and approach amidst the overhaul in online media is inspirational. I like being aligned with this particular moment in the zeitgeist. Also, I wanted free from Facebook, but was tethered to their platform for financial reasons. Now, I’m in and out of there quickly, to share links to my posts. Substack supports my sovereignty as a writer, rather than parsing it out to the highest data broker.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
That’s a wrap. Thank you Scott for the dialogue.