Call for Subscriber Writing, Plus the State of Things Here
PLEASE read the fine print
Hey team. Hello particularly if you’re new.
First, this is our monthly call for subscriber writing. Let me take a moment to let new people know what this is all about, reiterate what it isn’t, and make a much-needed reminder and reinforcement of the format. Every(ish) month, I present an opportunity for subscribers to share some of their writers with my mailing list of ~46,000 readers. This is a subscriber perk, and it’s also something I really love to do because I’m very passionate about writing and writers and want to help people who are trying to build an audience. I emphasize that this is for sharing subscriber writing, not your podcast, your Twitch stream, or your Instagram. One thing that I have to reiterate here is that this is the opportunity to link to writing that’s already hosted elsewhere; it’s not, as some people assume, an opportunity to actually post your work here. If you’re looking for someplace to host your writing, why not start a free Wordpress or Substack, or use another blogging or newsletter service? Then you can link your work here. I’ve had at least a dozen readers tell me that they meaningfully expanded their audience through this service before.
Here’s what I am now just begging for you to do, if you take advantage of this opportunity: please, please, please, use the following format to submit your work. Please. I ask every month, and every month only about half of submissions are in the proper format. It looks like this:
Bolded Name or Pseudonym, Title of Your Work with Link
Synopsis of your work of one or two (at most!) sentences
So in practice that looks like
Freddie deBoer, How Elites Ate the Social Justice Movement
A book about the elite capture that has neutered our progressive social movements
I understand that most people think they’re helping when they do things like this:
Name: Questo the Wizard
Title: “Spells That Make You Horny”
Synopsis: A grimoire of useful cantrips to get your motor running
But that isn’t helping; it’s taking a 30-second process of copying and pasting the exact format above and turning it into a five minute process of putting down each individual element in the right place and inserting the link and bolding the thing that should be bolded and taking italics off of the things that shouldn’t be italicized…. I implore you, guys, make this easier for me. It’s more backend work than you think. Please see here for more details about these posts and make sure to email me at email@example.com. I search for these submissions using that alternate email address, so you’re significantly increasing the chance I’ll miss yours if you don’t use it! Deadline for this month is Friday, September 15th!
If I messed up previously and promised to include your entry in a later edition, please email to remind me! If you submitted something before the submission period began, submit it again! And if you don’t use the firstname.lastname@example.org address, I have no sympathy if I fail to include you. I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Yes, I do check your email against the emails on the subscriber list, so if you’re emailing from a different one, point me to your subscribed email. Non-subscribers, if you want to take advantage of this forum to share your work, you know what to do.
OK, other stuff.
You know you work on a book for a year and a half, and everything leads up to pub day, and then it just… arrives. You have this animating force in your life and then you don’t. For something that you wait for and wait for, it’s almost impossible for the moment not to feel anticlimactic, and that’s despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed an unusual amount of media attention. I don’t know. I’m still too close to everything to say anything coherent about it all. I’m off to Seattle next week to have my first ever book talk, something I was denied with my first book, thanks to Covid. I’m very excited about that.
I’m sure many readers noticed that my attention has been divided the last couple months as pub week approached. I’m happy to say that I don’t think either the rate or quality of my posting suffered much, though you may have your own opinion about that. I have, however, been trying to think about how things should best work around here. To begin with, I think the pace the past threeish months has been better for me and the project - consistently about seven posts every two weeks. I’ve also been paywalling more stuff, and I’ll keep that going, too, although I’ll always publish a lot of stuff that’s freely available. I don’t know, eight free posts and six paywalled posts a month? We’ll see.
Second, unless there’s a genuinely passionate negative reaction, I’m gonna retire the weekly digest posts. I’ve been much less consistent with them than I’d like, they’re a lot more work than you’d think to look at them, and the views and engagement just aren’t there. The initial justification for them was both sensible and goofy - I publish so much that I wanted to give people somewhere to see the week’s highlights. But of course you can just peruse the homepage and get a pretty good idea of what’s been recently published. And coming up with music, essays, and books to share every week has been getting stressful. The team at Substack talk about avoiding “Patreon syndrome,” the assumption that you have to give your readers something other than writing to keep them happy. I think what I’ll do is change to a monthly recommendations post, with a movie and book and song and essay, etc. That way I can make those recs without it feeling like such a chore. Also, by chance I have written exactly one hundred of them as of today, and that feels like a good round number to go out on. Then again, as this is something I’ve been doing (albeit inconsistently), I’m sure stopping will enflame a passionate minority of you who are offended that I would stop doing them. Well… nothing’s set in stone. Either way I will write a lot and write well.
The book clubs make even less sense from a work-to-views standpoint - they average less than a thousand views a post. But I’m going to keep them going, one way or another. I’m still struggling to know exactly how to structure them and which books to choose and how many chapters to do for each post…. Look, most people just don’t read fiction. But I want to be someone who helps keep analysis of fiction alive. For this next book club, though, we’ll be doing something a little different, turning to a text that we have a little inside knowledge about - my new book. Is this a cynical ploy to try and get holdouts to buy a copy? Yes. But I also want to talk about the book with you guys, chapter by chapter, and I want to not only talk about what’s in there but also the composing process, what working with a publisher is like, and similar. We’ll be starting that not this coming week but the week starting Monday, September 18th. I’ll let you know in a note on a main post when we’re starting, but please bear in mind that you need to be subscribed to the book club section to receive emails, so either head to your settings and get subscribed there or follow along on the website. Book club content is always subscriber-only.
Yes, we’re doing the book review contest again this year, to be announced early October. Check out Carina’s sharp and funny review from last year if you haven’t seen it already.
Finally, I will be doing a little more video stuff in the future. The weather should (I hope and pray) get nicer soon, and when it does I’ll be doing more of the walk-and-talk style videos I’ve done before, now moving from Brooklyn parks to the Connecticut shoreline and other scenic places. These are partly guided tours, partly an opportunity for me to talk about whatever with a nice backdrop to look at. Doing all of these podcasts and interviews for book promo has really reinforced how bad I feel about how I look, these days, with all the extra weight from meds. So we’ll do the walking tour format so I can gab without having to be on camera.
That’s it. See you tomorrow morning. (Yes, with comments on.)