Discover more from The Honest Broker
A Thank You to My Reader
This has been an amazing year at The Honest Broker, and my happiest one ever as a writer
Yes, I’m thanking my reader for this wonderful year at The Honest Broker. And there’s just one—because I only write for one person.
No, not for me. (You were thinking that, weren’t you?) Hah—I certainly don’t write for myself.
I write for you—the person so aptly described by Kierkegaard as “the individual who is my reader.”
I’m simplifying Kierkegaard a bit. Below are his exact words, where he makes this point much more eloquently than I do.
I don’t think we’re allowed to write like that nowadays. But Kierkegaard came of age during an intensely emotional era known as late Romanticism. So we cut him some slack.
And what he’s saying is spot on. Every author is indebted to "that single individual whom I with joy and gratitude call my reader."
I launched this Substack because it seemed the best way to reach that person. Namely you.
The Honest Broker is a reader-supported guide to music, books, media & culture. Both free and paid subscriptions are available. If you want to support my work, the best way is by taking out a paid subscription.
“When you write for Substack you have a different kind of relationship with your reader,” I’d been told by Dan Stone (who convinced me to start The Honest Broker). “Because they get emails from you, they feel they have a personal connection. It’s more than just reading a book or article in a magazine. It’s like hearing from a friend.”
That proved true—and in so many ways I never anticipated. Even my writing style started changing. My sentences began to sound the same way I would talk to a friend at a pub or across the dinner table.
But the comments section at The Honest Broker is the best example of this different vibe. In some ways, the comments are the best part of the experience here. And that’s something I never thought I’d say.
So I want to thanks you especially for that. And it’s not just for the smarts and expertise you share in the comments (and don’t think I haven’t noticed). It’s also the way you support and encourage others that’s especially gratifying. This recent open thread was a case in point—one of the happiest events of this happy year on The Honest Broker.
At the very start, I had some hopes that this endeavor would turn into a genuine community of individuals, with all the positive things that entails. But results have exceeded all expectation. And you get all the credit for that.
Here are some other highlights of the year:
(1) Readers received 156 articles in 2022—most of them available to all subscribers,. Your generosity makes that possible.
(3) I also put more than 400 archival articles into my Vault, another special feature for paid subscribers.
(4) I am making my new book Music to Raise the Dead available to subscribers—at the pace of one chapter per month.
I’m very excited to share the next chapter in January. It’s called “What Did Robert Johnson Encounter at the Crossroads?” and I have a hunch it’s going to stir up things. It will certainly change how we view that blues icon’s legendary midnight deal with the devil.
(5) Late in 2022, we launched open mics at The Honest Broker—reader-driven threads on various topics. These will now be regular features.
(6) The community grew enormously. We started the year with seven thousand subscribers, and recently surpassed 40,000. That’s an increase of 475% in just 12 months. I’ve never been involved in anything before that grew 475% in a year, except maybe the COVID pandemic.
This is especially gratifying, because so many people have claimed that longform journalism is dead. But we’re proving the opposite here.
For example, that article on Barnes & Noble last week got more than 200,000 views. Just a few months ago, I would have thought that kind of reach was impossible on a self-publishing platform. But it’s happening—and we’re still growing too.
(7) Even more startling (at least to me) was that subscriber growth accelerated during the course of year—and really took off at year end. With this momentum, we could easily double in size over the next 12 months.
The metrics are lovely—way beyond anything I’ve expected or earned. But you can’t reduce things like this to the numbers. Around here, the goals are joy and happiness and having a positive impact.
I wish we could quantify that stuff. But, hey, the best things in life will never be charted on a spreadsheet.
This has been my happiest year ever as a writer, and certainly my most productive—and I’ve been writing for publication on a regular basis since I was 14 years old with a dozen or so books now to my name. So I don’t make that claim lightly.
I’ve taken a lot of chances here at The Honest Broker—repeatedly doing things that no mainstream periodical would have allowed—and you have supported me every step of the way. For that, I’m deeply appreciative.
But if I’m judging matters correctly, you’re having fun too.
So, dear reader, let’s do it again in 2023. I have a lot of things planned, and even the unplanned things will probably be interesting too.
Let’s find out.