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  • Writer's pictureLeah Zani

See you on Substack!

Dearest readers, I will be migrating my writing over to my new Substack newsletter, The Powder Press. Join me there for regular updates on my research and writing!

A powder press is a machine used to compress explosive material into denser, safer, and more efficient packets. The Powder Press is a place for me to share small but impactful packets of culture, science, and history. The focus will be on my next book, Dynamite Empire: The Power that Changed America and the World, but the newsletter has a broader scope than just one book about dynamite. I will also be sharing stories about art, poetry, and community building; news stories and critical analysis; craft talks, poetry exercises, and method guides; and a curated collection of stories and objects that I find in my research.

Why did I start a Substack?

I study the cultural lives of things that explode—things with social relevance and sometimes political urgency—yet much of my work goes unseen by general readers. I’m a full-time public scholar who does this for a living but rarely gets paid for the actual labor of doing research and writing books. So, I’ve created a Substack to share my work and ask for your support. There are different subscription tiers (from $0 to $100). Support me at the tier that works best for you! The support I get is crucial to my budget, but I believe everyone should have access to this work. No matter the level you subscribe to, you’ll get a monthly newsletter of my writing and research, book recs and news articles, sneak peeks into my creative and literary process, and full access to the publication archives. You can choose to receive each month’s newsletter directly in your inbox or read via the Substack app.

The blog on my personal website has been a good training ground to figure out how I want to write in a less formal, more public venue. But it's been challenging to bring readers to my tiny blog. Now I'm ready to move to a bigger platform with a wider reach.

The logo for my newsletter!

I considered going with either Patreon or Substack. They are similar platforms and, at first, I wasn't sure which would be a better fit for me. I did a survey of my colleagues, friends, and readers to learn more about their subscription habits. Those that supported writers tended to use Patreon--but they interacted with Patreon as a payment system, not as a place to read. By comparison, Substack is specifically designed as a reading platform to connect professional writers and their audiences. Patreon supports a wider array of formats and has a larger audience of users, but Substack is designed to maximize reading. Patreon didn't have a native newsletter feature--if I wanted to manage an email subscription list and send out beautiful newsletters, I'd have to connect my Patreon to a third-party service like MailChimp. That seemed like a silly extra step for features that come native in Substack. At the end of my (brief) analysis, it was clear: On Patreon, you're supporting the creator; on Substack, you're supporting the newsletter. Since my primary goal is to share my writing in a regular newsletter, I made my choice.

Having committed subscribers each month helps make my work possible. I invite you to subscribe to The Powder Press.

See you on Substack!


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