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JennaGlatzer
01-14-2006, 03:25 AM
Inviting suggestions.

Something that always surprises me is that people here mention that they don't even know Absolute Write has a newsletter. (We actually have three.)

But beyond that, I have heard that people who do subscribe rarely read the whole thing-- many people tell me they just read my "letter from the editor" each week.

That's a little frustrating for me and managing editor Amy, who puts a lot of care into creating the main newsletter each week. There are always several articles, an interview, columns, book reviews, an essay, a prompt, links to contests, etc. in each newsletter. I can't figure out what we're doing wrong and why people aren't reading through it.

I know it feels ad-heavy sometimes, but the ads are only on top and bottom-- no ads in between all the articles and interviews and stuff.

I've considered scaling back the newsletter and, instead of having 8 or more new articles and things with excerpts and links to the site, having just two or three printed in full in the newsletter itself. Would that help?

What else? Analysis, please. Here's this week's newsletter. Tell me what's wrong with it.


Absolute Write Newsletter: January 11, 2006
http://www.AbsoluteWrite.com (http://www.absolutewrite.com/)
An Absolute Write Publication
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Welcome, writers! If you are interested in screenwriting, freelance
writing, playwriting, writing novels, nonfiction, comic book writing,
greeting cards, poetry, songwriting, or-- well, you get the idea-- you're
in the right place.

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** To Unsubs.cribe:

To unsubs.cribe to from newsletter, please click the link at the end of
this newsletter. This will automatically remove you from the list.

** To change your subscr.iption

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Sign-in and make the appropriate changes. If you have forgotten
your password, one will be sent to your subscribed address by
clicking here: http://www.zinester.com/sendpswd.html (http://www.zinester.com/sendpswd.html)

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* Your Non-Fiction Book Could Be An Amazon.com Bestseller!

Want to add "bestselling author" to your resume and sell more books
in a single day than most authors sell all year? Just learn Randy
Gilbert and Peggy McColl's formula for making your book an
Amazon.com Bestseller.

You can learn their methods on a free teleseminar next Thursday,
January 19th. Absolute Write editor Jenna Glatzer followed Randy's
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Problems of the Pen" and saw her book hit #4 on the Amazon
Bestseller List.
http://www.freepublicity.com/Amazon/?10430 (http://www.freepublicity.com/Amazon/?10430)

-----------------------------

--> New Course Begins January 30! <--

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-----------------------------

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-----------------------------

* Markets! Markets! Markets! - Satisfaction Guarante.ed!

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-----------------------------

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1. From the Editor
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Hiya writers!

I suspect that most of you have recently heard about The Smoking
Gun's investigation of James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. If not, it's
well worth reading. We're discussing it over here, and the link to the
Smoking Gun story is in the first post:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24956 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=24956) .

As of now, Frey's publishers are standing behind him and not saying
much, other than that they support him. This is much different from
Random House's treatment of Norma Khouri, after her book Honor
Lost (Forbidden Love) was determined to be fabricated. They pulled
the book from the market and offered refunds to bookstores.

To me, it's obvious that as a writer, I'm offended by James Frey's
actions. I'm appalled that he has written about his months in prison
when he (apparently) never spent a day in prison. I'm disgusted that
he places himself as a poor victim of a tragedy in which he apparently
had no part. I'm ticked off that he decided to con readers so he could
make a fortune selling a story of hope and redemption that was
based on lies.

So here's what puzzles me. On that thread on our message board,
not everyone is nearly as appalled as I am. There are a couple of
people there saying that a good story is a good story, and they'll read
it anyway. I kind of want to shake those people and say, "Are you
kidding?!" Harlequin author Susan Gable summed up my thoughts
pretty well when she posted, "Lying has become passe in our world.
And that's a really big problem."

Stories like this one have consequences for all writers. Now that there
have been several cases of made-up memoirs in recent years, we
have to worry about the trickle-down effect: Will the public continue
reading memoirs? Will they become so suspicious that they doubt
the credibility of any writer with a shocking true story? And if readers
read fewer memoirs, publishers will publish fewer memoirs-- already
a challenging genre to break into. And they'll demand more "proof" of
true events, which is sometimes impossible to provide.

It's sad that it comes to that. It's sad that we have writers among us
who would lie, plagiarize, assume false identities, and exaggerate to
win their 15 minutes of fame and fortune. It's tough to sell a book, and
tougher to make the bestseller lists, but most of us face that challenge
honorably. Those who pass off fiction as fact do so to cut the line. In a
sense, they're admitting that their writing is not good enough to
deserve publication on its own. so instead of working on their craft
and writing stories that really do stand out, they cheat their way to the
top.

Buying their books even after the truth comes out only reinforces the
idea that they can get away with it. Not only does it take away the
negative consequences, but it adds positive consequences (more
book sales)! I feel no need to read this book now, but if others do, I'd
ask that you read it at the library, not spend money on it and add to a
con artist's coffers.

Speaking of con artists, there's a super radio interview about scams
in the writing world online now. It's an interview with Daniel Steven,
my coauthor of the book The Street-Smart Writer. I hope you'll listen
in-- he discusses agents, POD publishers, the recent Martha Ivery
case (she's going to prison!), poetry contests, and more. The link is:
http://www.wtopnews.com/emedia/16172.mp3 (http://www.wtopnews.com/emedia/16172.mp3) .

I'm thrilled that Booklist reviewed The Street-Smart Writer, too! The
reviewer said that it "contains such a large amount of essential
information that it should be required reading for anyone with a story
to sell." Ahh, from his mouth to writing professors' ears.

Enjoy the issue!

Write on,
Jenna Glatzer
Editor-in-Chief
http://www.absolutewrite.com (http://www.absolutewrite.com/)

Read about Jenna's books at http://www.jennaglatzer.com (http://www.jennaglatzer.com/)


=========================
CHAT TRANSCRIPT
=========================

Stage Fright and Being a Writer

If you missed the online chat with Jenna last week, you can catch the
transcript here:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=445730&postcount=28 (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=445730&postcount=28)

The next chat is February 3 with author and scam-hunter Victoria
Strauss, so mark your calendar!


=========================
PREDITORS & EDITORS POLL
=========================

Just a few days left to vote for your favorites! Click on over to vote for
your favorite books, editors, cover art, writers' resources, etc. of 2005.

http://www.critters.org/predpoll/ (http://www.critters.org/predpoll/)



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2. Special Offers and Announcements
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3. New This Week
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=========================
INTERVIEWS
=========================

Interview with Larry Rood, interview by Anna Olswanger
"Larry Rood and his wife Leah started Gryphon House in 1971 with a
typewriter, an adding machine, and a few boxes of children's books.
They paid $125/month to rent space in a Washington, D.C.
fourth-floor walk-up office where the roof leaked when it rained.
('There is no such thing as the good old days,' Larry says.) They didn't
publish, but distributed preschool children's picture books to child
care centers and preschools. But in 1979 they published their first
two activity books, which they kept in print for fifteen years. A small
family company, Gryphon House now publishes 12-15 books a year
for parents and early childhood teachers, and has a backlist of more
than 150 books.

"How is Gryphon House different from other publishers of early
childhood books?

"We publish books of active, hands-on, creative learning activities
that teachers and parents can share with young children. We try to
include activities that are easy to do, but which also reflect good
pedagogy and the best current information about how children learn
and grow. We think it's important that learning experiences respect
children's individuality and tap into their natural desire for learning."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/larry_rood.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/larry_rood.htm)


=========================
PROMPT OF THE WEEK
=========================

You're walking along the beach and you find something. It's not
jewelry, money, or a message in a bottle. What is it and what do you
do with it?


=========================
ARTICLES
=========================

"Screenwriting Tips from a Screenplay Contest Judge" by Gordy
Hoffman
"After cracking hundreds of screenplays sent in to the BlueCat
Screenplay Competition, the same problems in the execution of the
story and script continue to emerge. Here is a general overview of
these persistent issues.

"Do you realize what you're saying?

"In the theatre, they read plays aloud over and over in the process of
script development, and one of the reasons they do this is to hear the
dialogue. When I hear dialogue in my head, it might sound very good,
but then when I hear a person actually speak it, I often have an
impulse to jump in front of a bus. And over and over and over and
over, when I read screenplay entries to BlueCat, I am immediately
dismayed when the characters start speaking. Excellent everything
else, awful dialogue. And I often wonder if the writer has actually
heard the lines he has written for his characters out loud. Either read
the whole thing aloud to yourself, or even better, get a group of your
friends to read it. You do not need professional actors to evaluate
dialogue. Just people excited to help. Videotape it. I have videotaped
readings, and then sat down and worked out an entire rewrite off the
tape, addressing every single line that bothered me. Which leads me
to another thing."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/screenwriting/screenwriting_tips.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/screenwriting/screenwriting_tips.htm)

---

"Harem Girls for Sale" by Anastasia M. Ashman and Jennifer Eaton
Gokmen
"In eighteen months, two expatriate American writers in Istanbul
converted a sudden book idea into a feminist travel anthology, landed
a North American book deal as well as dual language editions from
Turkey's strongest publisher, while winning representation at one of
New York's oldest literary agencies. All with their first book project.

"How did we do it?

"We recognized our project's potential and doggedly pursued it. We
created a compelling brand. We boldly requested counsel, material,
and support from family, friends, business acquaintances, and
complete strangers. We refused to let the doubts of others impede
our trajectory, instead infecting nay-sayers with our enthusiasm. We
shared every success with a growing contact list, sustaining a
positive buzz. And from the earliest days we hunted unique marketing
and publicity opportunities.

"This is the story of Tales From the Expat Harem: Foreign Women in
Modern Turkey. Edited by Anastasia M. Ashman and Jennifer Eaton
Gokmen, the anthology collects experiences of 32 foreign nationals
from four continents, spanning forty years and the entire Turkish
nation."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/harem_girls.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/harem_girls.htm)


=========================
COLUMNS
=========================

To Arms! , "The Journey" by Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano
(weekly, special series)
"The day of Friday, July 2nd 2004 was a surprisingly pleasant day.
Warm enough to remind us that it was summer, but cool enough to
make us mistake it for spring. Nary a cloud in the sky, the sun had
free reign to exercise its will upon all who beheld it, especially two
adventurers in south central Pennsylvania. That was the day Chris
and I played hooky from our respective jobs to visit local print shops."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/specialty_writing/journey/to_arms.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/specialty_writing/journey/to_arms.htm)

---

Polish Your PUGS, "PUGS Pointers" by Kathy Ide (monthly, grammar
and usage)
"In this column, freelance author, editor, and speaker Kathy Ide
shares tips on punctuation, usage, grammar, and spelling ('PUGS').
She also explains why it's important for writers to polish their PUGS."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/freelance_writing/Ide/pugs_pointers_012006.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/freelance_writing/Ide/pugs_pointers_012006.htm)


=========================
FIRST PERSON
=========================

"I Write Fiction. So Sue Me" by Nayna Chakrabarty
"The creativity inside me struggled to emerge but somehow I
managed to keep it under wraps for fear of being ridiculed. First, it
vented in the form of dramatics, then painting, and creating collages.
Finally, the pressure was too much and it exploded in form of writing.

"In the beginning, I found it hard to fill in forms for questionnaires and
surveys, and I waited, doodling with my pen, wondering what I should
write in the blank provided next to the word 'profession.' This
hesitation was because my work had not been showcased in
magazines that were commonly read. It was usually on websites and
in the newsletters of fairly small publishing houses."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/freelance_writing/i_write_fiction.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/freelance_writing/i_write_fiction.htm)


=========================
JUST FOR FUN
=========================

"Necroliminphobia and Other Problems of the Pen" by Tina Koenig
"Disclaimer: The following information is in no way intended to
substitute for the advice of a medical reporter.

"The next time you feel compelled to provide a medically plausible,
polysyllabic excuse for why you've blown a deadline, claiming you
have one of the phobias described below might buy you some
additional time, sympathy or a long groan.

"The first writer's phobia clocks in at 36 letters, earning it the unique
distinction of being the most difficult to pronounce. In order to make
its name easier to pronounce, dashes have been inserted between
groupings of letters."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/fun/problems_of_the_pen.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/fun/problems_of_the_pen.htm)


=========================
BOOK REVIEW
=========================

The Pacific Between by Raymond K. Wong, review by Joanne D.
Kiggins
"Raymond K. Wong's debut novel, The Pacific Between, chronicles
an Asian-American man's attempt to discover himself and the world
around him.

"The ups, downs, twists, and turns of a two-minute roller coaster ride
are nothing compared to the gamut of emotions Wong's characters
experience in his compelling novel.

"The opening line 'Betrayal makes us do strange things,' leads you
head on into a boiling pot of love, death, betrayal, and deception."
http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/pacific_between.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/novels/pacific_between.htm)


=========================
WINGNUT OF THE WEEK
=========================

It's been a while since I shared tales of the bizarros who land their
way in my inbox. Thought this one was enterprising enough to
deserve some cyber-ink. She wrote me an impersonalized form letter
that includes the following:

"I am looking for potential sponsors to help fund my writing project
that I am currently working on. My book is going to be great for the
public because it's inspirational, personal, and authentic. I want to be
a successful independent published author. Self advertisement is
hard work, but I am willing to put in my full effort and give it my all. I am
dedicated to my writing endeavors and I am going to succeed. Any
help that you can contribute I would be most grateful. If you decide to
sponsor, upon the completion of my book, you'll receive recognition
and you'll also have the option to include an advertisement in the
back of my book to promote your business."

Let's get clear on this: An unpublished writer who explains nothing
about the book she's working on, and doesn't even sign her full
name, is asking me for money. I presume she plans to self-publish
through a POD company. The average POD book sells about 75
copies, mostly to the author's friends and family. If this girl is sending
notes like this to her friends and family, I suspect she will have far
fewer friends and a ticked off family.

But anyway. She's writing to strangers on the Internet to ask them to
pay her so they can be "recognized" in this book she hasn't written
yet. Would I *want* my name in this book? Not even if she paid me.
Here's an idea, sweets: Get a job and fund your own impending
success.

Are adults allowed to have lemonade stands?


=========================
WRITERS' GUIDELINES
=========================

We're always looking for new interviews, articles, essays, and humor
for this newsletter. We pay $5 or a 1-year subscription to the
Absolute Markets Premium Edition (www.absolutemarkets.com (http://www.absolutemarkets.com/) - a
$15 value). We're happy to check out reprints, and we take
non-exclusive electronic rights. Got some advice for your fellow
writers? Check out our guidelines here:
http://www.absolutewrite.com/site/submissions.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/site/submissions.htm)


=========================
WATER COOLER
=========================

Discussion of the Week

"Considering a bolt of lightning" started by William Haskins:

what was the first book or story that had a major psychological impact
on you?

how old were you at the time?

why do you think it affected you the way it did?

Join in this discussion at:
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25053 (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=25053)

Join in ALL the discussions at: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/ (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/)


=========================
ANNOUNCEMENTS
=========================

* 2006 BlueCat Screenwriting Contest
(due March 1, 2006; $35 entry fee; win $10,000 and script analysis)
http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com (http://www.bluecatscreenplay.com/)

---

* Lichen's "Tracking a Serial Poet" Competition
(due January 31, 2006; CDN$20/US$20 entry fee; win $500)
http://lichenjournal.ca/pdf/Poetry%20Contest%20Rules%202005Rev.pdf (http://lichenjournal.ca/pdf/Poetry%20Contest%20Rules%202005Rev.pdf)

---

* 2006 ASJA Writers Conference
(New York, NY; April 28-30, 2006)
http://www.asja.org/wc/wc.php (http://www.asja.org/wc/wc.php)


=========================
FRE.E ARTICLES BY JENNA
=========================

If you have an e-zine or newsletter and want some fre.e content,
Jenna has a bunch of articles for you here:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/free_reprint_articles.htm (http://www.absolutewrite.com/free_reprint_articles.htm)


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4. Classifieds
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-----------------------------

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Absolute Write Newsletter 2006 Glatzer-Wagner, LLC

Gehanna
01-14-2006, 05:11 AM
Could it be Information Overload that is causing a problem?

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Sincerely,
psy7ven

Vanessa
01-14-2006, 06:31 AM
There's a lot of good info. But I too think an "in and out" approach might work too. It's too much of an email to read everytime it arrives in an inbox. Keep it short sweet, simple, informative and straight to the point. But I must admit, at times, I enjoy reading some of them all the way through. Jenna, you and Amy bring a lot to the literary table. And that's commendable. Just my opinion!

sirensix
01-14-2006, 06:43 AM
Also, because it covers such a broad territory, only 10% or so of it will actualy apply to any one writer. You mention everything from greeting cards to screenplays to novels in there. Skimming over it, I as a pure fiction writer (and that in only two genres) found that most of it didn't even apply to me. I imagine any other specialist feels the same.

It's actually the same reason I let my subscription to Writers Digest lapse. I just found that not enough of it was relevant to me.

Maybe have several smaller but more specialized newsletters? Separate fiction from nonfiction at the very least? I'd subscribe if it was specific to fiction writers and talked more about the craft, working with agents, helping market your own books, etc.

SC Harrison
01-14-2006, 06:55 AM
Since I'm not a subscriber (yet), I'm not sure if my input is appropriate. Oh well, I've never been much for propriety, so:

I won't go so far as to say it's ad-heavy, but it could stand a little exercise. I will say that it's link-heavy, though. Maybe you could organize the links by subject (writing instruction, marketing aids, publishing guides, etc.), and put them on another page (each), with a link from your main page. I like your idea of putting 2 or 3 complete articles on the main page. I've never been too sweet on teasers, and I hate the way some magazines make you flip to four different pages just to finish an article. You could put some of the link-links between them to break things up a little.

September skies
01-14-2006, 07:13 AM
I've been receiving the newsletters since before I joined the AW boards - and I always thought there was a lot of great information in there - and I loved that.

But I found myself getting lost with so many open windows, and I'd start to get side tracked.

So, I decided to print it out (2-3 different times -- all the pages) and I loved it because I could take it with me - in the car, to bed, at my desk, and I'd circle everything I really wanted to look into or read. Then I'd return to the computer and look up only those few things.

Eventually, I just started scanning the newsletter (and yes, I always start with the letter from the editor and then go from there.) But l've learned to skim it and skip over the parts that don't pertain to my style of writing.

I just figured it's a newsletter that has something for everyone.

Elincoln
01-14-2006, 07:46 AM
Maybe have several smaller but more specialized newsletters? Separate fiction from nonfiction at the very least? I'd subscribe if it was specific to fiction writers and talked more about the craft, working with agents, helping market your own books, etc.

As great as that idea is (and I really think there should be magazines Like Writer's Digest that tailor to specifics), Jenna and Amy have little time as it is and having multi editions would be an overload.

A lot of times, I print it out and read through it with breakfast (or lunch). I'm barely able to call myself a writer, but I find a lot there I use for other things (I've been doing a lot of organizing for local College events that deal with writing and literary events).

Maybe one thing you might put in--once in a while--is a day-in-the-life of article and ask someone from a different field (humor, comic, novel, etc.,) to put their daily grind in. I'm always interested in how a successful writer deals with everyday things.

BradyH1861
01-14-2006, 07:53 AM
I would like to see a "Why I Love Brady" section. AWers could post all the various reasons they love Brady. In fact, it could be a regular insert in each newsletter. :D


Brady

Shadow_Ferret
01-14-2006, 08:54 AM
You guys have a newsletter?

Shwebb
01-14-2006, 09:04 AM
Jenna,

I tried to sign up for the newsletter awhile back, but the link wouldn't let me. I'll give 'er another try.

UPDATE: seemed to work. Thanks for the prod!

sirensix
01-14-2006, 09:52 AM
As great as that idea is (and I really think there should be magazines Like Writer's Digest that tailor to specifics), Jenna and Amy have little time as it is and having multi editions would be an overload.

Then perhaps just trim down the newsletter to those things which apply to all writers? Rather than a lot of stuff that applies only to specific types of writers? Or else just not be worried if fiction writers skip over much of it, and just be glad they're reading? :)

She was asking why people don't read the whole thing, and my answer, just from looking at that example was, it's a LOT of text, and less than 10% of it applies to me (writer of fiction for adults) in any way - I'm sure many people are the same way. I liked the prompt and saw a couple of ads that would apply to me, but everything else I saw related to nonfiction, memoirs, picture books, magazine writers, screenplays, etc. etc. Everything BUT adult fiction. Perhaps this is a non-representative example?

Skimming isn't necessarily a bad thing. If the subscribers were all bailing, I'd be worried. But they're not. If people are still wanting it to come to their inbox, they must not mind skipping sections of it, because the parts they do read are worthwhile.

Lantern Jack
01-14-2006, 09:57 AM
You should give me a column. That'll add some pepper to your bologna balls. You wouldn't even have to pay me. I'd work for bologna balls, as long as there's no pepper on them.

Gives me the achoos.

JennaGlatzer
01-14-2006, 10:19 AM
Skimming isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Oh, I agree. I should have been clearer-- I'm not expecting anyone to read every article... but just to quickly read through the excerpts to see what interests them. Yet time and again I hear from writers who say things like, "I didn't know you had a message board!" when every single week, I have a "Discussion of the Week" in the newsletter that links to this message board. So I know people aren't getting to the end of the newsletter. (The reverse frustration of the people on this message board who say, "I didn't know you had a newsletter!") Or subscribers who write to compliment me on an article of mine they read on another site, when it was in my newsletter weeks earlier-- so I know they didn't make it to the "columns" section that week, yet they DID read it in someone else's newsletter.

The problem with scaling it back is that then I'm even less likely to have relevant content for all writers every week. For example, if right now we generally have one item for screenwriters, one for nonfiction authors, one for business writers, etc., then if I cut down and only include 2 or 3 articles a week, either I have to make them all really general articles that apply to most writers (and I think I'd run out of ideas for that pretty fast), or I'd risk going several weeks without running anything relevant to a particular type of writer.

One of the things I've liked about AW is that we can get pretty specific-- like having a column about self-publishing a graphic novel. I know that doesn't apply to many writers, but for the ones it DOES apply to, it's gold, because you probably won't find that info anywhere else.

Of course, I write across so many genres/media that a lot of it feels relevant to me each week, but I can understand that those with a tighter focus might not care about a lot of the content.

One of my own pet peeves about the newsletter is the narrow formatting-- and I need to bug my partner about this again (he's the one who formats and sends the newsletters). He sets the width so narrow that you end up having to do a lot more scrolling than necessary. He told me that this was so it wouldn't be too wide for any monitor, but all the other newsletters I see are formatted much wider.

September skies
01-14-2006, 10:24 AM
when every single week, I have a "Discussion of the Week" in the newsletter that links to this message board.

that's how I finally joined in on AW - I had read quite a few of the discussions and came in to see what it was all about. http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/smile.gif

sirensix
01-14-2006, 10:36 AM
Ok, now that I have a clearer idea of the problem, here's my official suggestion list :D


1. Move unsubscribe info to the bottom (people are used to looking for it there).

2. Set up the first "frame" or "screen" - or whatever you want to call the bit people see without scrolling - to look something like so:

Absolute Write Newsletter: January 11, 2006
http://www.AbsoluteWrite.com (http://www.absolutewrite.com/)
An Absolute Write Publication
~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~

Welcome, writers! If you are interested in screenwriting, freelance
writing, playwriting, writing novels, nonfiction, comic book writing,
greeting cards, poetry, songwriting, or-- well, you get the idea-- you're
in the right place. In this issue:

* Your Non-Fiction Book Could Be An Amazon.com Bestseller!
* Learn To Write Children's Picture Books From A Pro!
* Book Review: The Pacific Between by Raymond K. Wong
* Interview with Larry Rood
* Screenwriting Tips from a Screenplay Contest Judge

and more!

Also see our discussion forums at www.absolutewrite.com/forums (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums)!

~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~^~

Then get into the main body of the newsletter. The more you can tease them in that first glimpse they get upon opening the email, the more they see that there is content worth getting to down below. Some people may not even bother to scroll down unless they know specifically what they're scrolling for ("oh, screenwriting tips? gotta read that!"). See, if I were a screenwriter opening this newsletter in my inbox, I might be pressed for time and, not knowing there was info I needed, just sigh and delete the thing rather than hunt for it.

So don't be afraid to show off your content right up front! Then make them hunt for what they want. :)

maestrowork
01-14-2006, 10:38 AM
I think most people skim... that's just human nature, and how we're trained to read -- to glance and scan and get as much information as quickly as we could. Yes, it'd be ideal if everyone reads the whole thing. I do, but not in details. I glance through the entire newsletter, usually picking out headlines first... that's how I read newspapers and magazines, too.

One of the problems, I think, is that the headlines don't really jump out, and sometimes they are buried in ads. I like the fact that a lot of ads are at the end, but there are still some in the middle that makes picking interesting stories a lot difficult. But that's the nature of having ads, I suppose... like TV commercials -- no advertisers want to have their ads at the very end of the shows when people will just skip them... they want to be in the middle of the show...

Some of stories are too brief: usually a one line, sometimes vague, headline followed by a link that takes us somewhere else. I think a few lines of lead-in would be better to pique people's interest.

Other than that, I think the contents are there and they're organized in some reasonable fashion. I don't see a big problem. Maybe try organizing them some other ways, and make more important headlines "Bigger" (not sure how to do it with a text file)...

p.s. I particularly enjoy the review column about a book, something Pacific... ;) ;)

[yes, i am a bad, shameless person...]

AdamH
01-14-2006, 08:44 PM
I think Ray touched upon the crux of the matter. The stories and columns don't jump out at you. You have to read everything to figure what's a story and what's an ad. The placement of the ads themselves are fine but the stories seem buried. (I'd probably move the unsubscribe section to the end...but I notice one's already there so maybe do away with it at the beginning all together.) And, I'd probably move your editorial as the first thing read in the newsletter. It seems a little "putoffish" when the first things you see in a newsletter are advertisements. Maybe just swap the editorial with the first batch of ads.

Another thought, considering the length (and scrolling time) to get through the newsletter: how about putting a mini table of contents after the editorial linking and tagging the different sections within it? That way someone could click on the table of contents section they want and it automatically links them to that portion of the newsletter.

There's a lot of good content in there. I wouldn't touch that. Just a little reorganizing.

Hope this helps! :)

maestrowork
01-14-2006, 10:32 PM
I agree that the "unsubscribe" and the ads on top are "putoffish." I understand why the ads are there (after all, advertisers pay for the best placements...) but as far as readers are concerned, they have to scroll down a few pages to find "1. From the Editor"... then we'll have to scroll down yet another few pages to find the rest of the articles. It can be a little annoying. The equivalent of this is like watching LOST, once the title starts, we get 5 minutes of ads, then the real show begins for only another 5 minutes, then another batch of ads...

The table of contents is not a bad idea but not sure how that can be accomplished in a text file.

Richard
01-14-2006, 10:47 PM
It sorely needs a table of contents at the start.


That's a little frustrating for me and managing editor Amy, who puts a lot of care into creating the main newsletter each week. There are always several articles, an interview, columns, book reviews, an essay, a prompt, links to contests, etc. in each newsletter

That's often not true though - by and large there are LINKS to a lot of stuff, but not necessarily that much content, and less that's complete content for the newsletter (for example, the newsletter version of the review of Ray's book doesn't go much beyond saying that it exists, while the interview with the childrens' book publishers only gets around to one question, and that answered in CorporateTossOSpeak)

The Affiliates list is endless - indeed, there's over 1,500 words that are pure adverts, while pretty much everything else is a sample lump of paragraphs and a link to the website to read the rest - too much to be a synopsis, but not enough to be a satisfying read within the newsletter itself.

The actual content gets completely drowned by all this, to the extent that I've always found it adverts with a bit of content around the side rather than advert-supported content - the practical difference between, say, Affliliates or 'Buy Jenna's Articles' or one-sentence descriptions in Announcements, or whatever, isn't that important when reading through the final thing - even if something' s a genuine pointer to an interesting site or opportunity, it feels like another ad.

JAlpha
01-14-2006, 11:32 PM
time and again I hear from writers who say things like, "I didn't know you had a message board!" when every single week, I have a "Discussion of the Week" in the newsletter that links to this message board.

I have always thought it would be great to have a "Discussion of the Week" in the water cooler that links to an article/topic in the newsletter.

Paint
01-14-2006, 11:33 PM
I get a LOT of writing newsletters. This is one of my favorites and I always read it. I do skim though, isn't that what everyone does? It sounds like that here.
I get one from Toasted-Cheese (www.toasted-cheese.com (http://www.toasted-cheese.com)) that I always read too. It comes out less often. It notifies me by e-mail that a new copy is out, rather than send the whole thing. It has a web, then click into 'Current Issue" I have always admired the format of it. It has a huge amount of information in a small place.
I always pick up information from AW Newsletter and I trust Jenna, that makes a difference too.

So I guess my tip would be a link rather than the whole newsletter.

maestrowork
01-14-2006, 11:44 PM
The Actors Ink newsletter I got every week highlights the articles (but without ads) in HTML format with links to the actual site (where the advertisements are). So in a way, it's like a table of contents rather than a full newsletter. And highlights are written in a way that they entice the readers to go to the site, something like:

"Director Stephen Spielberg talks about the best ways actors can prepare themselves at auditions. His advice is eye opening!" ... followed by a link to the online version of the magazine.

ChunkyC
01-15-2006, 12:25 AM
I read the letter to the editor, then skim the rest and stop at whatever catches my eye.

I wouldn't change the content. That you have something for everyone is one of the things that makes it so good.

Like others have said above, how it's organized could help. I get a ton of computer industry newsletters and virtually all of them have a table of contents of some sort. This helps me see what's in there and then I can scroll to the item.

Most of the text-based ones I receive use either ----- or ===== to separate sections, as you do. But you also use ~^~^~^~ which I find makes it feel a bit cluttered in those areas of the newsletter.

Another thing a few do is send a text email message that merely links to a website that has the newletter posted in a nicely formatted web page.

JennaGlatzer
01-15-2006, 01:06 AM
Would help a lot if I could just do the newsletter in html... does pretty much everyone have html-capable e-mail now?

Shwebb
01-15-2006, 01:12 AM
I'd rather have it in HTML, Jenna. (Since you're asking for opinions.)

Richard
01-15-2006, 01:14 AM
Would help a lot if I could just do the newsletter in html... does pretty much everyone have html-capable e-mail now?

Pretty much. You might have some problems with webmail clients though, and in a lot of clients, the reader would have to give the OK before displaying anything too snazzy.

ChunkyC
01-15-2006, 01:38 AM
Some folks might have HTML turned off for email because of exploits. I do believe most clients give the user the option of viewing HTML even if it's off by default, so it probably wouldn't be a big deal. It sure would make the newsletter look great and be easier to navigate, plus the bonus of being able to click from a Table of Contents to the item itself.

unthoughtknown
01-15-2006, 03:52 AM
Jenna, this doesn't help you but I loved your From The Editor letter and I am signing up now!

unthoughtknown
01-15-2006, 04:02 AM
Done.

Say, I noticed in the confirmation email, there are two links offered to confirm the subscription. It has Dear Subscriber, and then a link underneath, and then it has Dear (my name), followed by another link too. I clicked on the second one which worked of course. Am just bringing it up in case any other potential subscribers get a little confused about that too.

JennaGlatzer
01-15-2006, 02:14 PM
Thanks, Jen! I haven't looked at our subscription process in a long time. I should check into that.

Meanwhile... I'm so excited!

I just spent a lot of time playing with html and I think it would make a HUGE difference to do the newsletter that way. You take a look and tell me what you think:

http://www.jennaglatzer.com/sample_aw_newsletter.htm

(Not a final draft by any means, but a reasonable mock-up.)

unthoughtknown
01-15-2006, 02:17 PM
Holy cow, that is SO much easier on the eyes. Well done.

Vanessa
01-15-2006, 05:07 PM
WOW Jenna. This is perfect. It's inviting and makes you wanna read though it. LOOKS GOOD! I love this format.

Shwebb
01-15-2006, 09:45 PM
LOVED it. (I signed up--am I supposed to get a confirming email?)

maestrowork
01-15-2006, 10:55 PM
So much easier to read, and easy to find the articles, while not losing the ads... The font sizes and colors and columns really make a difference. Well done, Jenna.

(There's still the question about those who can't/won't accept HTML messages...)

Paint
01-15-2006, 11:17 PM
COOL!! I like it much better. Good job! I especially like the photos, they add so much. Easy on the eye too.

:e2headban

stormie
01-15-2006, 11:19 PM
My vote--like this new format better. And as CC says, people who receive email in plain text have the option (at the bottom or top of the screen) to turn HTML on.

Anyway, thanks for a great newsletter!

awatkins
01-16-2006, 07:48 PM
I just spent a lot of time playing with html and I think it would make a HUGE difference to do the newsletter that way. You take a look and tell me what you think:

http://www.jennaglatzer.com/sample_aw_newsletter.htm

(Not a final draft by any means, but a reasonable mock-up.)

Wow, Jenna! That's beautiful. May we have that one, please? :)