I subscribe here because I was a regular reader of Baltimore City Paper from 1998-2003. So, short of inventing a time-traveling machine, that's probably not a viable avenue for increasing readership. I like the sports stuff, obviously, particularly when it goes beyond the confines of the game itself or the cynicism of the Orioles front office and explores the feelings and connections, like some of the old CP columns about Terps basketball or the boxer who was killed in the ring.
I like food blogs. The Bosc pear post was good; it pushed me away from Anjou, and I think my kids prefer them too. As a long-time canned fish evangelist, it seems like these things can become big quite quickly? Although who knows what the readership numbers actually are. Maybe go after the "vacuum-sealed pickled Asian vegetable pouch" substack market? Ha. Mixing politics, news, slice of life, random images or cultural artifacts, is preferable to me than a pure outrage based format, even if that theoretically might mean more subscriptions.
I haven't been impressed with Discord as a platform, although my experiences have been related to gaming, which is probably quite different than how writers use it.
too pooped to say more than this really gave me a nice feeling after a plathy day in a plathy year. I think about a lot of things you have written a lot tom
I have two main reactions:
1. You're one of only a handful of writers I know of who write about current affairs (an awkward term, but I can't think of a better one at the moment) with the intelligent, barely-controlled fury they largely deserve. Moreover, that handful has been getting smaller, as several such writers (e.g., Ken Layne) have moved on to other pursuits. On top of that, several of the publications that formerly hosted such writers have died, either of more or less natural causes (e.g., The Awl) or through murder most foul (e.g., Gawker). Under these circumstances, I consider this newsletter one of a few remaining beacons of sanity in an increasingly insane world. (Perhaps that's a bit overstated, but not outrageously.)
2. Unfortunately, I probably have no ideas that haven't already occurred to you about how to get more people to subscribe. I do tell my friends about Indignity. I've posted links to it in comments on other sites (e.g., that of The Tyee, a newspaper here in Vancouver, BC). I'm not sure what else to do. More importantly, I'm not sure what else you should do. As far as I'm concerned, the worst thing about every kind of creative work is that you have to "market" it, that is, you have to bring it to the attention of enough people who sufficiently appreciate what you do that they provide you with the means to keep doing it. I've never had much success at that myself, so I have no advice about it for anyone else. You're probably going to have to try a bunch of things and hope at least one of them works.
Anyhow, I, for one, greatly appreciate what you do, and I'll keep supporting it as long as I can and as long as you care to keep doing it.
I hope you feel well again soon.
Oh, and about "Neither of those things had the staying power of a short thing I dashed off in a single day": As measured by popularity or profit, maybe not. However, "On smarm" is, for me, an enduring landmark. It's up there with David Graeber's "On the phenomenon of bullshit jobs" and a handful of other essays published online during the past decade to which I find myself referring again and again. Also, for the rest of my life, the way I think about China will owe a good deal to "Beijing welcomes you".
I enjoy the Scocca BRAND. It is synonymous with quality. When it is time to choose among various digital scribblings I say "make mine a Scocca".✝︎
I haven't read your stuff as long as Matt, but definitely since the Gawker days. Your writing is always good and smart and I appreciate the sense of humor. I want to say I paid for other like bitcoin-funded one or something? I forget what exactly the deal was with that. To answer the question of how to get more people shelling out cash, well I suppose *more* of the writing can't be bad, but I also realize that a flood of words is not necessarily good for maintaining the afore-praised BRAND.
I subscribed to Sports Illustrated for Kids, and then graduated to SI (for Adults?). Later I had The Economist (I wanted to be fancy) and like, Jacobin, and now I have the New Yorker. I also have too many newsletter subscriptions and I can say that I am not always in the mood to read an essay on the topic of the day, but I do appreciate the regular gags and features when I haven't the time or patience. I confess my sins before thee.
I liked Faces in the Crowd. The like, numbered list thing they had. (I'm sure the Economist had something I read regularly. I don't know it was a large unread stack for like three months and I stopped subscribing.) The cartoons in the NYer. It is all silly. And yet it is all useful in that I *do* have enough time to read the one thing that I know will reliably give me some micro-amusement.
More Thoughts of the Day, please. More sandwiches. More images.
~Please do not do a mailbag. I cannot tolerate another newsletter mailbag. They remind me of Bill Simmons and I just cannot abide another knock-off of that form~
I would comment more here, but I must admit I follow you on twitter and am not too hyped about getting obliterated with withering criticism. That said, this kind of "informal mode" is good for engagement I suppose.
Warren Ellis (author, https://warrenellis.ltd) has a newsletter that is free (example: https://buttondown.email/orbitaloperations/archive/orbital-operations-24-april-2022/) and I would totally pay for it. I get a little essay like thing, and some recommendations for books and things.
I like a newsletter to talk to me like a magazine I suppose.
✝︎ I was looking through some early issues of the New Yorker to find where exactly I had seen a Fritos ad calling them a great fancy cocktail party snack. I spend 40 minutes reading ads and they are sadly, a part of me forever now.
Tom, you've been appointment reading for me since I first discovered your writing, when you contributed regularly to Slate. Thanks for keeping it up, and feel better! As for ideas, I like the idea of a robust comments section. Also, and I can't remember whether you already have this, but I'd explore a tiered subscription plan, especially one that not so subtly encourages those who can afford to pay more to do so (see e.g., current affairs.org). Those who value your work as I do will take the hint and pay what they should.