Please allow me to reintroduce myself.
Exciting notes on the future of The Action Cookbook Newsletter.
Hello! Welcome, as always, to The Action Cookbook Newsletter.
Maybe you’ve been following what I’ve been doing here from the start; maybe you just joined recently because you saw me promoting it on Twitter, or a newsletter was shared with you via email and you enjoyed it.
Either way, I’m ten months and 125 (!!!) newsletters into this project, and I’d like stop for a moment to talk about what exactly it is I’m doing here.
What is The Action Cookbook Newsletter?
It’s my newsletter. I’m Action Cookbook. Hi.
Well, I’m actually a guy named Scott Hines, but seven or eight years ago I decided I needed a non-sequitur of a name to use on Twitter and now I’ve put hundreds of pieces of writing on the internet under the title of a British cookbook from the 1960s.
Actions have consequences, I suppose.
This newsletter started small last year; I initially launched it to support a podcast project that proved logistically infeasible to continue. Right around the time that effort ended, my gig with the SBNation site Every Day Should Be Saturday — where I’d contributed over 400 pieces of writing in 5+ years — ended as well. I had a new venue, and I wanted to keep writing, so I kept writing. A lot.
In the beginning, I was writing about sports, but the more I diverged from that and wrote about the other things I care about — cooking, parenting, architecture (my day job), personal essays on a range of topics — the more people responded.
Here’s some high-level data visualization on what it’s become:
And my, have you responded! At current writing, well over two thousand people subscribe to receive my thrice-weekly dispatches, something I could not have expected when I started this. It’s a genuine joy to write for an audience both as large and as intimate as this — I feel a personal connection to this readership, and many of you have reached out to me to share that you feel the same way.
I’d like to keep it going.
So what happens next?
It’s a lot of work to maintain a site like this; over the last ten months I estimate that I’ve put out a word count here roughly the same length as A Tale Of Two Cities and easily twice as good. I mean, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times?” C’mon, Chuck. Pick one.
This has been a labor of love, but to be able to keep it going indefinitely I’m going to ask for your support, especially as paid writing opportunities elsewhere are dwindling as media outlets shrink or outright shutter.
Today, I’m launching a subscription model for The Action Cookbook Newsletter. Beginning at $5 a month or $50 a year, you can continue to receive the writing that you’ve come to know and hopefully love at least three times a week.
That’s 13-14 newsletters a month for about 38 cents each, or roughly the cost of a Taco Bell hard-shell taco in 1993.
What would you rather spend that money on? Thoughtful, entertaining and useful writing, or 27-year-old tacos? For both my sake and yours, I hope it’s the writing. You shouldn’t eat fast-food tacos 13 times in a month, especially not ones that have been sitting around since the Clinton administration. They’re probably cold by now.
When you look at it this way, paying for The Action Cookbook Newsletter is the best thing you can do for your own health aside from staying inside, which is also a great place to read The Action Cookbook Newsletter.
What will I get if I do subscribe?
There will still be three newsletters a week, delivered between 8:00 and 8:30am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday morning. Two of those will now go to paid subscribers only, including the all-important Friday newsletter.
Also! A few weeks ago, I debuted a piece of long-form fiction; I’ve got a deep reservoir of that, owing to my longer-term goal of writing and publishing a full novel someday. I’d like to roll out more of this type of writing to my most dedicated audience, so you can expect serialized storytelling to appear here occasionally on top of the regularly-scheduled content.
If I hit a certain threshold of paid subscribers, I’ll also be announcing some fun monthly promotions; more on that as I see how much things take off.
But wait, there’s more!
I know that the Friday newsletter has become a consistent source of entertainment for many of you — I frequently receive pictures of the food or drink readers have made from recipes I’ve shared, or comments that you’ve enjoyed a book or musician I’ve recommended. I’ve been doing these digests since August of last year, and it can be hard for you to sort back through 40+ weeks of archives to find the hundreds of things I’ve recommended so far. I’ve created master indexes of every recipe (The Great Friday Food Index) and drink (The Great Friday Cocktail Index) to simply things for you; these are accessible to paying subscribers only.
This way, you won’t have to dig and dig if you’re thinking “gosh, where do I find the recipe for The Kentuckiana Hot Loin, Halal Balls, or Hot Brown Pizza?” or “hmm, I think there was a cocktail with basil in it, but I don’t remember what it was called” — you’ll know right where to find them.
When will this go into effect?
All posts will remain free for the next 2-3 weeks, and then things will start being paywalled as described above on May 25th. You should sign up now, if you ask me. Here’s another one of those big red buttons I love putting in here. They’re fun to click.
What if I don’t want to pay?
That’s fair, and I understand that — I know not everyone has the commitment or ability to pay at this time, and I want to continue to serve and grow the overall audience. At least one newsletter each week will remain free: I still want you here, still want to consistently offer you writing, and perhaps you’ll change your mind down the road. Who can say?
Genuinely, I thank you for supporting The Action Cookbook Newsletter.
It’s been immensely gratifying seeing this project grow the way it has over the last year, and I truly appreciate everyone who reads it, everyone who’s shared a newsletter with others, everyone who’s contributed suggestions (or dogs) to the Friday newsletters. For those of you who have reached out via email or Twitter to let me know that something has connected with you, please know how much that means to me.
I hope you’ll subscribe, and I hope you’ll stick around.
With my sincerest thanks,
— Scott Hines (@actioncookbook)