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Notes From the Reading Nook: August 22
Hey there, ho there, friends.
I’m sending this out to all subscribers today because I want all of you to know what to expect going forward in the next few months.
TL;DR: I’m changing some things based on your feedback and my own needs.
The Snail and the Whale by Julia Donaldson
Deadliest! 20 Dangerous Animals by Steve Jenkins (we’ve been working our way through this outstanding nonfiction series a couple of pages at a time every day during our Morning Time — my 6yo is obsessed, and with good reason)
Anna’s Summer Songs by Mary Q. Steele
A behind-the-scenes update on this newsletter
I’ve never done a “behind the scenes” post for this newsletter — probably because I feel like I share what’s going on in my life at least every couple of weeks if not more often (sometimes too much, no doubt), and also because I’ve been weird about being super honest about its growth and my goals.
Now I just don’t care. Maybe it’s the year I’ve had thus far — where a lot has been stripped away, not least my willingness to be anything other than completely open about where I’m at and what I’m feeling.
So, full transparency: on the first anniversary of this project, I had 107 subscribers. 3+ years later, there are 3,385 of you here. I’m truly grateful for that. I know I say that all the time, but that’s because it’s true — it continues to amaze me, and I’m continually grateful.
Once upon last January, when things were hard but I had no idea how much harder they were about to get, I told my husband if I could set any insane newsletter goal for this year, it would be to have 5,000 subscribers by December 31st. I have done absolutely nothing to attempt to achieve this, and I probably still won’t.
Because, as I have alluded to (like just now!) and occasionally outright told you, it has been a year for me. Some years are simply like this, I think, but the last time I had a year that was this rough, I was 27. Not saying the 13 years since then have been nonstop lollipops and bubble machines, glitter cannons exploding all over the place — I’ve been through some stuff I wouldn’t wish on anyone — but 2023 has now exceeded my ability to explain it. It has asked more from me than I can even tell you.
What to expect in the next few months
So there’s all of that, but also: writing a newsletter twice a week for several years is no joke, and while I’m not burnt out — I’m really not — I need to create some breathing space, so I can continue not only to do this work but also enjoy it.
To that end, I’m making a few changes, some temporary, some less so:
I’m going to be republishing reviews and other things more frequently than I do now. This was born of my asking, “How can I make this 10% easier on myself?” (recommend!) but it’s not just about me — there’s an enormous amount in my archives that many of you haven’t seen.
(Often, when I ask what you’d like to see in this newsletter, some of you request something that already exists — so this is, at least in part, my attempt to help you discover everything I’ve already written.)
Thank you to the 12 people who have been with me since the beginning and consumed every word; thank you also to the 100 of you who came on board that first year. Some of these reviews and some of this information, you’ll have seen before — hopefully a couple of years later, it will be relevant now that the children in your life are older (or perhaps you have more of them, new babies, etc), or remind you of titles you haven’t pulled out in awhile, or just hit differently in some way. Worst case, scroll on by — 75% of every issue, including my special editions, will still be new.
Fewer interviews and guest posts
In a recent survey, many of you mentioned that your least favorite part of this newsletters is interviews with authors and/or illustrators, and you also don’t love guest posts. Noted!
(This is why I ask you for feedback — because I want to know. Special shoutout to the person who responded to “What’s boring about this newsletter?” with nothing more than “Personal life.” I have laughed over that for months. But I really do use the information you give me to continually change, evolve, and refine this newsletter, so thank you.)
I have a few interviews already finished and a collaboration or two already in the works that I will be publishing between now and the end of the year, but going forward, I will de-prioritize… other people (I don’t know how else to say this 😂 ) I’m not going to pursue interviews unless they fall in my lap and I can’t pass them up (this has happened — hello, Kate DiCamillo — and sometimes I have to please myself first). I hope to continue to collaborate, since I like doing that, but I plan to cut back on the number of guest posts.
A random day or week off
Listen, I have zero plans to take any time off, much less randomly (can you even imagine!), but I am putting this here as a permission slip for Future Sarah, in case (in hopes?) she is more flexible with and compassionate toward herself than Present Sarah🤞
I haven’t figured this out yet, but I am considering changing the price of this newsletter, if not the entire model itself.
Here are two options I’m chewing on:
Raise the price for both monthly and annual subscriptions on October 1. (Paid subscribers, never fear: your price remains whatever it was when you first signed up, even if it was at a discount.)
Change to a completely donation-based model. That is: everything is free, nothing is behind a paywall, paid subscriptions are about supporting Can we read? and not about additional content, special access, or perks.
⛳️ This is where I need you to tell me:
Thank you for being here, people. Thank you for your ongoing support — your eyeballs, your dollars, your replies and messages, your energy on the other end of this thing. (The energy is an enormous part of why I keep doing this.)
You’re wonderful, and I appreciate you 💚
On this week in the past…
Read good books and take good care 😘
P.S. All Bookshop.org affiliate links are affiliate ones. The amount of money independent bookstores receive from this deal is laughable, and the amount I receive even more so, but nevertheless, we continue to fight the power together.