I’m Trying Something New in 2020

Launching a subscription-based Lo & Behold

For over ten years, I’ve been blogging on my website about writing, young adult books, publishing, and pop culture. I stopped blogging regularly a few years ago because blogging was apparently dying everywhere, which made blogging feel like shouting despairingly into the void. But in the past few years, as “blogs” died, “newsletters” started to pick up.

Over the past year, I think that “newsletters” have morphed back into “blogs,” but with a twist. Now you can charge a subscription fee if you use a service like Substack, which I moved this newsletter to last fall.

Making the change

For many years, people who have read my LGBTQ+ statistics research have asked me if I have a Patreon or Ko-fi or Paypal where they can tip me. I’ve always said no. If they appreciated my writing and research, I suggested they could buy one of my novels.

I have no idea if that ever worked; my book sales certainly didn’t spike! I’ve also realized that those who enjoy my nonfiction essays and research are not necessarily those who want to buy my YA novels. And that’s okay. I write a lot of different stuff; it makes sense that some of it appeals to some folks, and some of it does not.

I’ve also supported creators on Patreon, and I’ve thought a lot about starting my own. But I’ve never wanted to create special gifts for people who are able to pay more. I just want to write stuff and send it out there.

I never set up a Ko-fi or Paypal because while I’m perfectly comfortable tipping others for their services, I didn’t want anyone to feel like they have to tip me. Go figure!

However, I do feel that my nonfiction writing is worth something, and I’ve thought a lot about how I could get paid for it. Substack offers me a very simple, black-and-white option. If you’d like to pay for my essays, then you can subscribe. If you don’t want to pay for them, then you don’t need to. If you only want my book news, you can subscribe to the free version of my newsletter, since I’ll always send book news out to everyone.

So I’m starting 2020 by trying something new. This iteration of Lo & Behold, my author newsletter that started I-can’t-remember-how-many-years-ago as a marketing tool, is now transforming into a biweekly (sometimes more) missive, from me, on a subject that I’m interested in. If you subscribe on the free list, you’ll get fewer issues, but you’ll always get the book news.

I will probably write about writing, because I’m a writer and I’m about to dive into a substantial revision of a novel. I’ll probably write about the process of revision. I’ll probably write about queer young adult books, because that’s what I write on the fiction side. I’ll likely write about historical tidbits I’ve discovered while researching my books, because I love to delve into obscure topics about queer history and pop culture (I can never entirely escape my academic roots). I may write about popular movies like Little Women from time to time. I might write about food and my effort to finally make hot-and-sour soup, who knows! I’ll also, of course, update you on any book news that happens.

What I know is that this is an experiment. If you’d like to support me on this experiment, I would greatly appreciate it. I will do my best to provide you with interesting essays every other week, and maybe there will be chances to have some group discussions too, if you’re interested.

Taking the leap

Last November I sent out a survey to all my newsletter subscribers, and over the weekend I looked through your responses in detail. When I created the survey and included a field for “anything else you want to tell me?” I expected things like “can you write about X” or “will there be a Huntress sequel?” :) I did not expect the kind and generous comments many of you left. I was so touched to hear from you about how my books and essays have affected your lives, and how open you are to reading what I want to write.

Asking people to pay for my nonfiction essays (ok, my “blog”!) feels a little like walking out on a gangplank over the ocean. It’s definitely a leap for me, and while I’m good at swimming in a swimming pool, I’m not so sure about the ocean. I’m going to try to be a duck.

If you’d like to subscribe to Lo & Behold, I’m offering subscriptions at 25% off for the month of January 2020. That means if you subscribe by Jan. 31, 2020, you can get it at $3.75/month for 12 months, or $37.50 for the whole year.

If you have any questions about the subscription, feel free to reply to this and ask me. Thank you for your support.

Malinda Lo is the critically acclaimed author of several young adult novels, including Ash, a lesbian retelling of Cinderella. Find out more at her website or follow her on twitter or instagram.