Letters From the Labyrinth is my weekly email newsletter. You can subscribe to it here.
Email newsletters are hot again. Seems like every writer, actor, musician, and stand-up comic I know has started an email newsletter over the past year, or is planning on it. The reasons are simple. Blogging is dead. Readers don’t automatically go to a Blog each day, because instead, they spend their time on Facebook. It is very hard for anyone in the entertainment industry to convince people to click beyond Facebook, let alone get them to invest time in reading a Blog.
The problem for entertainers is that Facebook no longer works unless you spend money. For each thing I post there, approximately 1,000 of my 11,000 followers see it — unless I spend money to boost the post into their feeds. Yes, spending money on advertising is a necessary evil, but the way Facebook’s algorithm works, if you have more than 10,000 followers, you basically have to spend money on each and every post. Which means you eventually end up spending more than you are making.
The other problem is the changing tone of social media. It’s one thing to interact with people and answer questions and have some fun. It’s another to have people shout abuse at you or to deal with that one entitled person who monopolizes all of your online time each and every day just because they follow you on the social media platform of their choice. Writers would get a lot more written if they didn’t have to Google things for people who apparently don’t know about Google, and most of us are really not interested in your thoughts on how your pet hamster, Freddy, has proof that vaccines are a conspiracy concocted by both Trump and Clinton.
As always, most of my peers aren’t talking publicly about the changing face of social media, but it’s ALL they’re talking about in private.
I’ve spent most of my 20+ year career Blogging, but you’ll notice that I don’t do much of it here, anymore. Instead, I have a podcast called THE HORROR SHOW WITH BRIAN KEENE. That’s by design. I reach more people through that podcast than I do here, mostly because while people might not click away from Facebook to read something, they will listen to a podcast while camping on Facebook. I said last year that this website would eventually be used for nothing more than news and announcements, and we’ve pretty much reached that point. I’ve also been warning you for the last year that I anticipate pulling back from social media in the future. This Farewell Tour is leading to that, and again, it’s by design. Knowing that I will eventually be less available, I thought I should visit as many of you as I can.
An email newsletter solves many of these problems. It can get news and announcements out to people who want to see them, without having to rely on Facebook or Twitter to do it (because as we have established, those methods are becoming less and less effective as tools for that). And it allows me a place to Blog every week, and to talk about writing-specific things and personal things I might not have gotten to on the podcast.
I can promise you it will be entertaining. Long before THE RISING or any of my other successes, I won a Bram Stoker Award for my first email newsletter, an archaic Web 1.0 thing called JOBS IN HELL. Most of you are either too young to remember that, or came along after, but those who do remember it will tell you they were always entertained. And so shall you be again.
This announcement turned into a mini-Blog on it’s own, but that’s mostly because I wanted to answer Ron Davis, the young man who runs the Unofficial Brian Keene Fan Page over on Facebook, who asked, “This seems like a strange and surprising turn of events to me. Newsletters are kind of retro. He’s always been very active in social media, now he’s putting it down?”
No, I’m not putting social media down. Just speaking openly about the challenges and thoughts many of us entertainers are discussing behind the scenes, and continuing to try to find some balance in my own life, out here at the end of the road.
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