The siren song of subs
I think about this often. I enjoy writing my blog but when I hit “publish” each week I still feel the rough edges of the point I’m attempting to articulate and want to write a few thousand more words to really expand on it, especially because I enjoy most writing about big topics. However, I enjoy writing for the sake of writing and would rather write a blog and newsletter than nothing at all. If my audience grows, amazing. If I write a book in the future, even better. For right now, I’m just enjoying the process.
Completely and totally agree. Especially in regards to fiction. How many people do we need analyzing the world and "unpacking" things? Do we really need more podcasts? Etc. etc.
So much brainpower being put towards ephemeral crap. Best of luck with your book.
As a reader, I feel like I only get bits and pieces of you. Your writing is insightful and solid but whether that translates to Nat the author remains unknown.
Selfishly, I like to envision you with some success as an author - allowing your newsletter to explore new places of joy and curiosity.
Thanks for this, Nat. I’ll chime in with my own experience because I think about this very similarly to you. I’m a former journalist who always hoped to use my resting career to write nonfiction books. I’ve really come to believe that the things required to succeed in the modern publishing marketplace are fundamentally at odds with my desire not to exist online - like you said, the modes of writing and attention that you use to build an audience can just cannibalize your time and writing brain. I haven’t totally shelved (lol) my ambitions - life is long, there may be times when platforms are less inimical to quality thinking/writing/conversation - but that time isn’t now, for all the reasons you touch on here. One more I would add: financial pressures in the publishing industry that have led them to basically outsource marketing functions to writers. This piece does a great job illustrating it: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/19/opinion/cormac-mccarthy-publishing.html
Great article. Just getting started writing, but have a background in marketing, lead gen, b2b SaaS so I understand the value of a lead and your list. Also just read your AI post. Wonder if AI's impact will skew this one way or the other. I'd think AI will supplement / supplant the ephemeral stuff first and the long-form would be a bit "safer"?
TBH, I don't even remember what I wrote 3 months ago. And there's no one more invested in my writing than me!
But yeah... You make solid points. Focusing on algo-hacks is not good for overall writing. But to get your overall writing in front of people, you need to algo-hack your way into views (sounds like chicken-egg problem).
But I see some authors writing articles about the same topic as the book they're writing. I think it's a great way to get a lot of words out there. And then look at the data and pick the ones that resonate the most with people.
Thank you for writing this Nat! I’m pretty new to online writing, but it’s been on my mind forever: long form, timeless writing.
After overdosing on Hormozi, I think a cool principle to to make writing so good that people do the marketing for you. Word of mouth.
That’s why I think the Cultural Tutor and Billy Oppenheimer have great content, big audiences, but only do long form.
Would love to hear more insights on this (if there are any)!
i feel this but about my career in general. thanks for sharing!
For you and other established creators with large audiences, this is probably true. I think you’re at a point as a writer where if you share less, each new post is like a bigger event for your audience...a pleasant surprise in your readers inboxes. I personally am more willing to engage and read your stuff practically every time you send an email now because it is so infrequent.
I've been thinking/feeling exactly the same thing lately, realizing that as I split my attention between my books and my Substack, I'm not able to do either of them properly. I'm still trying to figure out the way forward. Success at either could easily require a full-time effort, but as you say, a finished book without a platform of readers is unlikely to succeed.
Again, Nat, what is the title of your book and when is the publish date? I'm okay with you mentioning it at the end of every blog, until you sell out. I give zero time to Twitter so we need to focus our exchange of Q&A here, in email. Individually addressed. Never mass. Just to you.