76 Comments

Thank you Elizabeth for generously sharing! The insight on "gentle outreach" really stands out to me. I too have found my way to some awesome people and personal growth through could outreach where I told someone what they are doing was interesting and I cared about it too.

And, I spy another cool interactive activity you are doing with your readers like the Bingo Card. This time, a paperback books swap 👀 https://whattoreadif.substack.com/p/youre-a-knives-out-fan

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I'm happy to try and answer questions either here or in office hours tomorrow.

You can also always email me (whattoreadif@substack.com). It might take me a few days, but I will get back to you.

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What stands out to me is not only your sound advice, but your warm, caring approach. Thanks for sharing with us.

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Oh thank you so much.

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I love this so much! It's nice to see someone succeed without having a large audience to start with.

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I had no audience. It's still kinda shocking to me that people read it.

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Congrats, Elizabeth! So cool to see you featured! The newsletter is amazing, and even though I'm always looking at books everywhere, your recommendations stand out to me and have actively made me pull books out of my giant stacks to finally get to them.

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You've gotten me to pick up books I've been meaning to read forever too.

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Woohoo! Love seeing Elizabeth and her fantastic newsletter featured here — and such great advice!

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So much great advice! But the piece of advice I really LOVE is to "write like you have a big audience," even when you don't. I think that's so important because without realizing it, you might be limiting your growth by how you think of your audience. I think I became aware of this when my subscriber number hit a tipping point where I was reaching more strangers than people I knew. That was a bit daunting at first, but it forced me to think about how my stories land for a general audience, and that in turn, helped me write stories that were more likely to gain traction when they're shared on social.

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YES. Pretend you're the New York Times.

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Great Substack, btw! I just signed up for the free version.

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YES (actually, pretend you're better - probably you are! lol)

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I am so, so glad I met Elizabeth and that we now get to work together in the bookish newsletter world. What to Read If is such a unique take on book recommendations. Congratulations, friend!

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I am a fan of Elizabeth Held and her newsletter is one of those I ave up ti read each week. I loved doing the bingo game and a lot if my subscribers have been drawn to her. This is a great piece!

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SOO sorry for the typos! Hopefully the main message got through: I love this newsletter.

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Thanks Elizabeth!

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Thank you for sharing these concise and valuable ideas about What to Read If. I also like the "gentle outreach" approach. Whenever I can, in emails or personal social media messaging on whatever topic, I add, btw, here is what I am working on now, maybe you'd like to try it. I've had some big jump days, but nothing like 100 a day! If they're not signing up in droves, at least I'm picking them up one at a time, one at a time, one at a time...they start to add up. (I write a 1,500 word post every 5 to 7 days.) It also helps to make helpful comments on other popular Substacks, and a few will come over to my side. Thanks again, Elizabeth.

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Thanks for sharing. I like the idea of writing as though one is writing for a big audience. I also like the idea of, well, bringing out books not on the bestsellers' list.

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Thanks, this is very helpful! Writing can be a long, lonely slog. It's a good reminder that the relationships we develop are important and ultimately more valuable than the crude subscriber, etc. numbers.

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Thank you so much for this inspiring story. And it's even about book. Guess who am I reaching out to? ;)

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That’s so much for sharing your journey! I love the idea of a bingo card and co-sign gentle outreach as a more organic way of growing. I’m curious if you want to monetize your newsletter. I write my newsletter Future of Belonging, and go back and forth thinking about monetizing because I wonder about the reader and community experience.

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Hi Vanessa! Great question. I don't have immediate plans to monetize. There are so many places to get free book recommendations I'm not sure that there's an audience for paid book recs.

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Very sound advice and it’s great to read about your steady success pathway.

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