End of a blog; beginning of a newsletter

I’m turning this blog into an email newsletter.

If you’ve enjoyed reading me here, please sign up for the newsletter A Register of Aliens. In a few weeks I will remove this blog from the web, and my homepage will become a static site with my bio and publication list. All the stuff that used to appear here will now appear in the newsletter. I considered just porting over the addresses of all the people who subscribe to the blog, but I hate that kind of scummy marketing move. So if you’re interested you’ll have to sign up yourself. Sorry for the make-work!

What will I be publishing in the newsletter?

  • The monthly reading logs you’re already familiar with from this blog.
  • A link post with behind-the-scenes notes when I publish a new essay, story, or review elsewhere. If more than one piece of mine is published in a month, I’ll bundle them into one link post so as not to inundate you.
  • Occasional newsletter-only essays, no more than one a month.

All told, you’ll never receive more than three posts a month, and usually only two.

If you’re among the few, rare people who still use RSS feeds (like I do), here’s the newsletter’s feed for your reader. That way you can still follow it as if it were a blog, should you prefer.

Why am I doing this?

  1. Because I have been told that I should have an email newsletter for the sake of my writing career. I have a few book projects in the pipeline, and, for nonfiction in particular, possession of an email subscriber base really helps selling a book to a publisher. I don’t want to write a newsletter in addition to a blog, so I’ve decided to turn the blog into a newsletter.

  2. Because most new followers in the last year have been using WordPress’s “subscribe by email” function. I think at this point the majority of my readers treat this blog as if it’s already an email newsletter. Unfortunately, the emails that WordPress sends to those subscribers are really ugly, and I don’t have any way to change how they look. Switching to a newsletter-first system will allow me to control how the emails look when they arrive in your inbox.

  3. Because my habits as an internet writer are already better adapted to email than to blogging. As you probably know if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time — and I’ve had a blog of some sort continuously since 2007, when I first went off to college (!) — I often get annoyed by my own archives and delete them all. No quantity of good resolutions can overcome this tendency. I’ve even deleted blog posts that had gone viral and received tens of thousands of views or were the top Google result for their topic. Real self-sabotaging stuff. On top of this I am a technical clutz who nonetheless loves to tinker with code, and so I have managed on several occasions to delete my archives by accident. Thus self-loathing and clumsiness have conspired to make my blog ephemeral, a private discourse for those who manage to read it when it’s published. I’m not a trustworthy custodian of my own internet writing. Switching to a newsletter will obviate the problem.

  4. Because I love the ethos of correspondence. When someone emails me about a blog post, I am always so much happier than when someone comments on it. I just don’t care for or enjoy comment sections. Lately, a few subscribers by email to this blog have told me that they assumed WordPress email notifications worked like newsletters, that they could reply to me directly by sending response emails to the notifications. Alas, that doesn’t work. And it made me sad to think of people trying to correspond with me and just sending their messages into a sea of silence instead.

  5. Because it seems to me that a lot of the energy and interactivity that once belonged to the blogosphere has migrated to the ecosystem of email newsletters. Every week I discover a newsletter by another interesting writer, the way I used to discover new blogs back in the late noughties and early twenty-teens. My newsletter subscriptions are beginning to overtake the number of RSS feeds I follow. Increasingly, my favorite internet reading comes in the form of newsletters. I’m sure this energy has everything to do with the way that platforms like Substack, Ghost, and Buttondown enable writers to monetize their newsletters. (Same reason there was a podcast boom.) And thus I expect the survival of the email newsletter ecosystem depends on the scalability and sustainability of paid newsletters. Are all the same people subscribing to these different newsletters? If so, it’s a bubble, and we’re in for a rude awakening. Or are different people subscribing to different newsletters? If so, perhaps this is a brave new world of independent publishing. Either way, for now the energy is real. I want to be part of it — not the making money part, but the conversation part.

Technical Details

I’m using Buttondown for my newsletter. Buttondown is free for me to use until / unless I get 1000 subscribers, then I have to pay $5 a month for every additional 1000. Seems reasonable to me. In the event that I breach 1000 subscribers, I’ll look into adding the possibility for readers to help pay for the newsletter hosting if they’d like, but I’ll never paywall any of the content. A Register of Aliens is now — and always will be — free.

Thank you for reading

If you’ve enjoyed my blog over the years, please do subscribe to A Register of Aliens. And if you really like my writing or me personally, then please consider recommending it to a friend or posting a link to it on your preferred form of social media.