UFOs and who's this for[Trenchant Edges]

On the art of trying to promote without marketing.

Welcome back to The Trenchant Edges new subscriber week, where we’re going over some of our most interesting posts and unpacking a bit of the business of running the newsletter.

Come September we’re going to be shifting to a new publication structure, but I’m still working out exactly what that will be. I don’t want to change things too quickly or without a firm grounding.

In short, I’m writing an actual business and marketing plan.

And I want that process to be somewhat open to y’all, both because it’s a subject that interests me as much as anything we’ve talked about here and because y’all get a say in how this thing works.

Of course, people who comment or talk with me get a bigger say, but there’s not much I can do to overcome that bias beyond maybe running a survey.

We’ll see.

Things Beheld In The Air

Back in May, I was messing around on Clubhouse when I joined a UFO channel and tried to get some answers on one of the weirder things I’ve read, in Annie Jacobson’s book Area 51. We’re gonna have a whole newsletter on that after I finish rereading the book so I’ll call this a teaser.

Anyway, they didn’t like the suggestion and I was quickly shooed away.

But it got me thinking.

Never a good sign.

UFOlogy is an ideal place to practice critical thinking. First, there are more reports than you can go through without dedicating years to the subject. Second, it’s a fact that the government has hidden some things it knows about UFOs.

So here you have a dubious subject with a known-hidden dimension. This means you’ve got a nice microcosm of the real world. You’ve got to make conclusions with partial information, knowing that some mix of what you’re reading is bullshit and disinformation.

Be it from hoaxers or the alleged secret alien government.

You can read more about the start of this UFO stuff here.

Our next post was about how UFO ambiguity provides people a canvas to say whatever they want.

I managed to stay away from UFOs for June, but July started off talking about that US ODNI UFO report.

Before I stopped with any pretense in connecting it to our other investigations, I went into some of Terence McKenna’s thoughts on UFOs. and again!

Then we talked about my favorite UFO subject: How similar UFO stories are to folklore about demons and fairies.

And then we slummed in Amazon’s UFO section.

We discussed Weird Critical Thinking next. Because it’s important to evaluate information on fringe stuff as skeptically as you would anything else.

Then we talked about how UFO-belief skews people's personal lives

And then we discussed UFOlogy’s diet apocalypse, Disclosure.

We then took a break to discuss the history of US Military secrecy. It’s one of the best pieces I’ve written and SUPER important to understand any part of the US’ clandestine history.

And lastly, we’ve got a review of Richard Dolan’s AD: After Disclosure. A book I had to choke down because its author is so into the revenge fantasy of finally being proven right made it frustrating to read.

Ugh, this has been a lot, lol.

But like I said, there’s a lot to analyze and learn from. And plenty of people not to emulate.

The Audience Problem

There’s a basic flaw in how I’ve run this newsletter so far: I’m mostly looking to write to a specific, amorphous group of people. Folks who have been disillusioned enough times to be unsatisfied with the usual ideas in the mainstreams and fringes.

People who are trying to live their lives honestly, consciously, ethically, and with some agency. Probably lifelong learners and interested in elevating their understanding of their world.

This is…. not a demographic. You can’t click on this as a category for Facebook ads.

It’s trust you’ve got to earn, one by one. As lots of other people filter themselves out.

I’ve been pretty lazy about cultivating this kind of person here because I’ve mostly pointed people in from my Facebook page. Which has already done the work of collecting a large number of them.

If I want to treat this newsletter as a business, and I think that’s the best way to make sure it continues as best it can, I need to find a lot of people to filter through it. And I’ve made a lot of decisions in structuring things here that won’t help that process.

For example, none of what I’ve posted has been at all connected to any popular SEO or hashtag keywords. I’ve not cultivated relationships with other creators. I don’t post on Twitter.

But since Facebook is increasingly hostile to my existence, I’ve got to start doing this kind of thing. As well as building more ins for new readers.

Last night I was talking with my best friend about this situation and she told me I need to start treating this like a blog and promoting it like one. Following people in adjacent topics, guest posts, and so on.

She also pointed me to an academic discipline I’ve never heard of called Digital Humanities which includes a lot of stuff we’ve talked about especially with regard to Shoshana Zuboff’s The Age of Survellience capitalism.

Take a look at some of the topics they cover.

Answering the question, “How will people who want to read this find it?” is going to be the trickiest thing long term. Since the ideal is to have a method that doesn’t require me going out and finding individual people.

The basic principle is to find a place where people who might be interested already are and show up with something that gets them curious.

She *Also* pointed out that people don’t care about reading anymore as much as podcasts or tiktoks. But I don’t really want to get into either of those right now.

Most of the things I make people ask me, “Well, who is this for?” And the answer is usually, “Well, it’s for me.”

And they don’t like that.

So I’m grateful that so many people have joined me in reading and talking about whatever bullshit is on my mind today ;-)

See you tomorrow.

-SF