Discover more from A Writer's Notebook
My Last Day With Substack Pro
It's just you and me now, baby.
Last year on February 8th, I began one year of writing under contract with Substack. They paid me a modest advance each quarter, and in return I agreed to send out at least 100 emails in twelve months. Nothing crazy, just an incentive to keep me posting while I built up an audience. I think they saw me gaining readers over on Patreon, noticed I had a large Twitter following, and thought, hey, get that girl over here to write for us instead. I suppose this was in case it turned into something big, and they didn’t want to miss out on taking a percentage of that.
And has it turned into something big? I mean, yes and no. One year and 122 posts later, this newsletter now has almost 10,000 free subscribers. That is truly amazing to me. The email open rates are up to 80%, and the page views are now topping 15,000 per post. I’m so grateful and humbled. There are enough paid subscribers to earn me a “Substack bestseller” badge, and I’ve given out discounted or free subscriptions to a large number of students, retirees/pensioners, and other lower income readers. I’ve learned so much about my own writing process, and understand a lot more about what works best for me in this format. I’ve decided to stay with Substack to keep publishing this newsletter in its current form, and plan to launch a few new projects on the platform in the coming months as well. I am in the process of planning three new online writing workshops.
So, that is all the good stuff. On the not-so-shiny end of things, I haven’t exactly met the financial targets that Substack hoped I would, in order to recoup their investment and keep the newsletter going. Instead I offered a whole lot of free content, and haven’t pushed very hard to sell paid subscriptions. To make matters worse, mine is one of the lowest priced newsletters on the whole platform. I know I could charge more, since most people do, but I would prefer not to. To speak in internet boulder terms, I’m a large Substack the size of a small Substack. Now I’m on my own, with no more assistance to keep it all afloat. This, as the dog in the flaming room says, is fine.
To keep things sustainable here, and to keep subscription prices low, I’m going to have to convince about 500 of you, or around 5% of the total readership, to come on over to the paid subscriber side in the next few months. I don’t want to pester anyone about it. I’m kind of hoping it will just happen. So, if you enjoy this newsletter, and want it to continue, now is the time. Please consider upgrading your free subscription to a paid one now.
A paid subscription to A Writer’s Notebook will get you at least one to two notebook entries per week, two semiannual sessions of Essay Camp in March and August, any other essays, art posts, reviews, hot takes, or think pieces that I publish here, and access to the full archive.
Some of you reading this are old friends by now, while others are here for the first time. However long we’ve known each other, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to write to you.
The pitch for becoming a paid subscriber
This is an ad-free space, and all support comes from you. Your subscriptions literally keep the lights on, put tea in my cup and jam on my baguette. All writing costs money to produce in the form of time, food, electricity, a laptop, a roof over my head, my student loans that I’ll be paying off until I die, my health insurance so I don’t wither away, my life-changing jeans, and my haircuts so I don’t look like Hairy Mary Magdalene. It’s how I afford books and newspapers and literary magazines and museum passes and sketchbooks and pencils and brushes and of course, notebooks.
However I know what it’s like not to be able to afford even a few dollars a month. For that reason I also offer student discounts and free subscriptions—just email and say what you need, I’m happy to oblige, no questions asked.
If on the other hand you’d like to sponsor a student or other lower-income reader, you can do so by donating a subscription here.