Matt Gemmell

Site Membership for 2016

blog 9 min read

A new year has begun, and I’d like to invite you to become a member of this site for 2016. I believe that supporting creative work is important, which is why I’m a paying member of various personal and professional sites. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to know I’m helping in a small way to keep others writing.

For my own part, I introduced site membership almost a year ago, and I’m delighted with how well-received it’s been. Let me tell you a little bit about it.

What’s in it for me?

Membership is a way to support my writing, and for me to have a closer relationship with those readers who enjoy my work enough to take an active role in helping me continue. There are also several benefits too. Here’s a quick list:

  • A weekly email newsletter with an exclusive essay or short story, delivered to your inbox on Mondays. You also get access to the entire archive of previous issues (46 at time of writing). Some of those essays have been published here on the site afterwards – I link to a few of them below – but most remain entirely exclusive to members.

  • Access to an RSS feed for the full text of this site’s articles, without any sponsored posts.

  • Periodic give-aways and competitions. During the last year, I’ve given away software including OmniOutliner for Mac, which I use myself.

  • Sneak-peeks at upcoming material, and behind-the-scenes insight. Site members have already read the prologue of my upcoming novel, CHANGER, seen the official cover artwork, and enjoyed background information like character sketches. Members are also the first to hear about progress updates, release dates, and new projects.

All of the above benefits apply to all members, and I’m constantly thinking of new ways to reward those who support my work.

There’s also an additional tier of membership called Plus. Plus members have a few additional benefits too:

  • An ebook copy of Raw Materials, my collection of personal essays (around 90 pages). It’s rated ★★★★★ on Amazon. You’ll get a copy for Kindle (mobi), iBooks (epub), and also a PDF.

  • An ebook copy of Writing a Novel: Resolving Plot Issues, my short book on finding and fixing the problems in your novel’s first draft (around 50 pages). You’ll get a copy for Kindle (mobi), iBooks (epub), and also a PDF.

There’s more. As a special benefit, I’ll also be giving each member a free ebook copy of CHANGER, on the day it’s released (if you’re a member at the time). After all, it’s the support of members that has allowed me to write the book in the first place.

What does it cost?

Membership is a monthly subscription. The cost is actually up to you: from $1 (US) per month. The recommended amount is $4 per month, but you’re free to set the amount above or below that level. You can choose which currency to be billed in; it doesn’t have to be dollars.

As I mentioned, there’s also a higher tier of membership, called Plus. It’s for those who choose to pay $8 per month or higher. You get some extra benefits at that level, as described previously.

What if I want to cancel?

You can cancel your membership at any time, no questions asked - you don’t even have to contact me to do it. When you sign up, you’ll receive a link you can use to modify or cancel your membership whenever you want. It’s easy.

What if I don’t want the newsletter, but still want to be a member?

That’s fine too. There’s an opt-in checkbox for the newsletter when you sign up as a member, and you can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time without affecting your membership.

Supporting creators

I have no other job: writing is my full-time occupation. It’s an extremely difficult field to find success in, but it’s my passion and I’ve never regretted making a big change in my life two years ago. This is what I’m meant to be doing.

But I can’t do it without your help. Your contribution – whatever the amount – literally helps me pay the bills and keep working, so I can build a body of published work and make a go of this new career.

This is my 14th year of writing online, and there are over a thousand articles on this site; you can readily have a look to see whether my work is something you’d like to support. More than that, one of the things I like most about membership is that it allows me to forge a more meaningful connection with people who feel as I do about supporting creative work.

If you’re one of them, perhaps you’d consider becoming a member. You’ll be joining more than a hundred people who feel there’s something worthwhile here, and you’ll be taking an active part in keeping the words coming.

Past essays

This is just a small selection of past newsletter essays that have been republished here on the site. Most of the essays remain exclusively for members.

  • Autumn, on the season that heralds change and reminds us of the work we’ve yet to do.

  • Whisky, on the finest substance in the world: single malt whisky.

  • Eulogy, on thankfulness, and not waiting until it’s too late.

  • Superstition, on growing up surrounded by belief in the supernatural.

  • Essentials, on how our perspective on what’s truly important changes over time

  • Sci-Fi, on science fiction, and how it embodies hope.


Finally, here are a few testimonials kindly provided by existing members of the site.

You can expand or collapse each testimonial by clicking or tapping its title. The content of each box is scrollable, where necessary.

Becoming a subscribing member on has been one of the smartest decisions I've made over the past year.

I'm a long-time reader of Matt's work, and I've been following him along on his personal site for years. Week in, week out, Matt's writing has always been insightful, clever and a joy to read, but what keeps me coming back is his unparalleled honesty. In an online world where most people are little more than avatars, Matt's refreshingly human online presence clearly stands out. He's relatable, and funny. He's also opinionated and extremely knowledgeable about the topics he features in his writing, and he knows how to transfer that knowledge to his readers like few people do.

And then there's The Writer's Life, Matt's weekly, members-only newsletter. Through it, Matt allows us to catch a glimpse of his everyday life: what he's up to, how he's doing with his various projects, and so on. But The Writer's Life is so much more than your typical newsletter. If Matt's website is a curated online home for his writing, The Writer's Life is more like a journal of annotated thoughts. And it just so happens that those thoughts are worth their weight in gold. Every Monday, Matt delivers something entirely new and original to my inbox, and it never fails to delight, or inspire new ideas for my own work. Without a doubt, it has become one of the highlights of my week.

There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to become a subscribing member on Matt's site. You can do it to receive his newsletter, or to remove sponsored entries from your RSS feed. You can do it to get access to his Google group for writers, which is a great venue to discuss any hiccups you may be experiencing in your own writing. Or you can do it to receive a free copy of his excellent ebooks. Any of those reasons alone would more than make up for the membership's cost.

That said, if you're anything like me, the real reason to do it carries admittedly more selfish undertones. It's knowing you're supporting Matt's work, of course, but it's also ensuring that it sticks around. It's knowing you're doing everything you can to preserve its continuity well into the future.

Considering how much Matt has given us over the years, it seems only fair to give a little bit back. But more than anything, I sleep much better at night knowing that next Monday, and the one after that, the same familiar "ping" will announce the next issue's arrival in my inbox.

I can hardly wait.

Álvaro Serrano

My advice to anyone considering membership to any site is to look beyond just the exclusives. Don't get me wrong, these are great, and much sought after, but should not be the basis for subscribing. Consider the body of work you have already read, and contemplate what is yet to come. Think about the effort that went in. The effort that will go in, on an ongoing basis.

Personally, I've subscribed to to show my support, and say: I love what you do, I believe you are great at it, keep doing it, and I'm looking forward to more.

The weekly members' newsletter I thoroughly enjoy reading? I receive that for free.

Pete Denison

The Writer's Life started as a newsletter, but Matt quickly elevated it to standalone art. Witnessing the process from the very first issue was a bonus joy, every week. But you really, really need to read all past issues to get an idea on what a fascinating journey Matt invited his members on, and how amazingly it worked so far.

That's something very different, and well beyond anything you can call a "newsletter". You deserve to experience it in full. Grace and I enjoy every single issue. It truly enriches our lives, which is a bit weird to say, because we are 50+ and yet we find Matt speaking "our age" language so perfectly. Thank you Matt!

Grazyna Jaworska & Adam Andrzej Jaworski

The agora is a fascinating, enriching place where we witness and participate in the everydayness of humanity. Our agora these days is inclusive of the online world—and it can be an overwhelming place. For me, it has been essential to find guides and anchors in this world, such that sense and sensibility can be had. And, most importantly, I need such guides to be able to achieve and sustain a kind of equanimity, in the face of the dizzying pace and infinitely varied landscapes of the online agora.

Matt has been a recent example for me of such a thing. He has become one of my lodestars. Reading him—in addition to his writing output at various sites—as a subscribing member, is… uncanny. It's uncanny because his writing, his thinking, reminds me of the many and various strands of thought and experience that I've woven through, over my own past half century of living. To find something like that in one still so young (he's in his 30s!) is extraordinary. To know that he has still so much to share—not least his life of letters as a novelist, which has just begun—is simply thrilling to contemplate.

This is not hyperbole. One merely need dip into an already deep oeuvre on his website, to know that what I'm saying makes perfect sense. To have a regular (weekly) insight to a person's process of thinking and living is a delight worth way more than the pittance necessary for access. Even when the thoughts and moments shared are dark and challenging—perhaps even especially then—it is well worth the time spent. When the online agora is so demanding and in-your-face, it is all the more crucial to find (and keep) voices that keep you sane, and that keep you remembering what the worthwhile things are. That is what Matt Gemmell is for me.

Lloyd Nebres

As you no doubt have noticed from his site, Matt Gemmell is an engaging writer. To me, it's a no-brainer to support people like Matt whenever I can, which was why I joined as a member from the beginning. Now I'd be hard-pressed to cancel my membership, because of the great weekly newsletters Matt sends. Also, Matt's taste in whisky is almost as refined as mine, so what's not to like?

Thord D. Hedengren

The Writer's Life is my ideal companion to a cup of coffee at dawn, or a glass of whisky at dusk.

Eric Teubert

The best thing about Matt's public writing is that he makes me think, even if it's a short missive that's outwardly about not much at all. There's always something to digest, rather than just skim over. No topic is off limits, even the most difficult stuff.

He writes from both the heart and the head at once, so there's feeling and emotion, but also rationality and introspection. Best of all, if you like writing yourself, he's wonderfully encouraging. I've written things I never would, had he not trodden the ground first, and then encouraged us all to follow.

Rys Sommefeldt

I’m extremely grateful to those who shared their feelings about membership, and indeed to everyone who has signed up to support my writing. I’m delighted at the success of the membership programme so far, and I’m looking forward to strengthening my relationship with my most passionate readers in future.

If you think you’d be interested in signing up as a member, you can find more information here.

As always, thank you for reading.