The Ghoulish Times | 12.22.23
Hello and welcome to The Ghoulish Times. My name is Max Booth III and this is my spooky newsletter.
As you probably already gathered, today's newsletter is not being sent from Substack. That is because I have deleted all of my Substack newsletters, including my entire account (so, if I was previously subscribed to your Substack, apologies, but I won't be receiving future issues). Why I've decided to do this won't be a mystery to many of you, but for those who haven't caught up yet, here is a statement Substack issued out recently concerning why they've allowed literal white supremacists to publish with them:
For further context, I encourage you to read this Verge article, which opens with the following:
Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie’s plan to ‘strip bad ideas of their power’ is to profit from disseminating them as widely as possible.
Leaving Substack after this was a no-brainer. Honestly, I felt guilty for not doing it earlier. Maybe it was laziness, or just complete and total burnout, but there's been plenty of signs before this that Substack was a garbage company.
I realize if you're subscribed to The Ghoulish Times, it's probably because you're a book reader and a fan of the horror genre--specifically, a fan of the works published by Ghoulish Books and also (maybe?) my own fiction. But it's important, I think, to talk about these things. We aren't a huge corporation. We are a very small company with an even smaller staff. I write all of these newsletters myself, which is why I decided a while back not to bother attempting to maintain two separate newsletters (one for Ghoulish and one for my own writing career). There is simply not enough time in the day to keep track of different accounts. So this is it. The Ghoulish Times is about everything related to me, to Ghoulish Books, to the Ghoulish Podcast Network, to the Ghoulish Book Festival, and whatever else I feel like talking about.
I did not bother taking the time to export all of my Substack articles. I made the spontaneous decision to delete everything (after exporting my beautiful subscriber list, of course). I think there was some good writing in the archives, but I don't know, I guess it boiled down to the fact that I am incredibly busy with a thousand projects currently and I didn't want to take the time to do it properly. For context: I forced myself to figure out a better alt newsletter while simultaneously preparing for our store's biggest event of the month--our "Late Night at the Bookstore", which ended up being a successful time. Many eager readers showed up in pajamas ready to buy discounted horror books. Here's a picture of our setup, which offered complimentary cookies, hot chocolate, and coffee.
I ended up settling on Buttondown because friends I respect recommended it, and the owner was quick to make it clear Buttondown has no tolerance for Nazis on their platform:
Admittedly, I am a little grumpy about some of the perks I've lost from Substack. For one thing, Substack had a great networking capability. Before Substack, we used Mailchimp, because I disliked for numerous reasons. But when we hopped over to Substack, I found our audience growth increasing like I'd never seen before. So, that was great, and I don't really know what to expect from Buttondown in that aspect.
Another thing I admired about Substack was the fact that it didn't cost us anything to use. Most other newsletter services--Buttondown included--require newsletters upgrading to premium plans once a certain amount of subscribers have been reached. This makes sense, of course, because hosting stuff like this isn't cheap. It was just nice and convenient to not have to pay anything over on Substack, but not convenient enough to continue contributing to what I imagine will be considered "the Nazi blogging site" going forward. I mean, fucking seriously. I know this has been said elsewhere before way more coherently, but it blows my mind how lackadaisical people can be about this stuff. Nazism is not just...a harmless opinion certain people share. It is literally a plan of action to exterminate anyone who opposes their beliefs. Condoning the publication of a Nazi newsletter feels so insane and dangerous that I still can't wrap my head around it.
Anyway, in full transparency, we just went from paying $0.00 to send out these newsletters, to $290 annually--which, you know, is not a small chunk of change. There are of course cheaper options available on Buttondown, but that was the best option for us and our current subscriber quantity (4,400). Switching everything over was not exactly how I intended on spending my morning, yet here we are. Hopefully Buttondown proves to be a smooth and easy service to operate and everybody receives their issues of The Ghoulish Times like they are supposed to.
These situations are frustrating. It feels like every time we start really gaining real traction somewhere--like, say, Twitter, or Substack--we find ourselves suddenly slapped across the face by the rich, terrible people in charge and their monstrous views. It's like a game of Frogger, almost, but every single car on the highway is a goddamn Tesla with a swastika painted on the hood. There's no way to win this shit. The more you think about it, the more suffocating it all feels.
I guess right now would be a good time to point out that we also have a Patreon and Ko-fi, should anyone feel like helping support Ghoulish financially. Also, of course, we have a webstore bursting with exciting spooky offerings.
Additionally, we now have a gift card option on the webstore.
Also, if you're a book reviewer, Bury Your Gays: An Anthology of Tragic Queer Horror is now available on Booksirens. Go snag a free copy while they still last.
And, if you're local to our bookstore in Selma, make sure to attend our FREE horror movie screening on Saturday, December 30th. Pre-show begins at 7:30 and showtime's at 8:00. Here's our Facebook event page.
OH YES, our brick & mortar will be closed December 24, 25, and 26 for obvious reasons. But do not fear, because our online store never closes (famous last words???).
RECENTLY READ: The Militia House by John Milas, which I loved.
CURRENTLY READING: The Reformatory by Tananarive Due. Every night in bed I read a couple chapters of this novel, and I end up drifting off to sleep feeling like absolute shit. Highly recommended.
RECENTLY WATCHED: Trouble Every Day, The House of Yes, Quiz Lady, and Netflix's new Scott Pilgrim anime. All highly recommended. I'm hoping to catch Poor Things in theaters over the weekend if I can find the time to dip out.
CURRENTLY WATCHING: Fargo (season 5), New Girl (season 6), Taskmaster New Zealand (season 1), and The Curse (season 1).
RECENTLY LISTENED: I am going to shamelessly admit to having listened to HouseOf1000Books's recent episode about my novella We Need to Do Something, which I was tagged in on Instagram. It is a fun conversation full of interesting theories about the story--some I've heard before, some hilariously unexpected. I've also agreed to come on the show sometme next year for an interview, so stay tuned for that.
CURRENTLY LISTENING: Air Force jets flying dangerously close over my bookstore as I type this newsletter (we are located near an Air Force base).
CURRENTLY CELEBRATING: It is my dog's birthday today. His name is Conan O'Brien and he is now two whole years old. Here he is looking incredibly awkward after being asked to pose for a photograph:
And here he is working on his memoirs by candlelight:
Okay, I think that's it for now. Thank you for joining me over here on Buttondown. Consider sharing this and encouraging others to subscribe.