Monday, June 30, 2008


I receive quite a few newsletters. Some weekly, some monthly, bi-monthly, some infrequently, and some very occasional. I used to get so many newsletters, I never got around to looking at them all.

When I first started researching this industry of writing, I subscribed to everything--and I mean everything. My email used to fill so quickly, only a full time secretary would have been able to keep up. And strangely every single one of them said they had the good oil on becoming a writer.

99% of them are full of bull!
0.2% have the occasional bit of useful information but taking the time to find it seems hardly worthwhile when it can be found elsewhere.
0.4% continually spout the same rhetoric but it's stuff new writers need to have ingrained. It's not earth shattering secrets, writing doesn't have any (it's all been done before), but it's stuff new writers need to know.
0.3% Are full of little bits of helpful technical hints. Obviously these are also things new writers need to know, perhaps even more so than new markets or plot creation or character depth as found in the 0.4% mentioned earlier.

That's 99.9% of the newsletters covered for those of you not keeping count.

The final 0.1% of newsletters are gems and something all writers need to subscribe to. There are newsletters that fit into this category for all levels of writers, the trick is to find the newsletters you gain the most out of.

Why haven't I given you any examples? Because I'm not you. What newsletters I find most useful may not be useful to you. I'll will give you some examples of what I mean.

If you write for the love of writing and only ever intend to show your work to a very select few, or no one at all, then newsletters from Duotrope or Ralan will be useless to you. If you're new to writing then Technical Newsletters from Tim North (Better Writing Skills) will be invaluable, but if you're a seasoned professional, then Australian Bookseller and Publisher may suit your business needs more fully.

So the best advice I can give you is two fold.

1) Decide on what type of writing career you want first.

Many will tell you that freelance writing covers both the writing of articles for cold submission or query to markets such as magazines and newspapers, and fiction writing, the cold submission of your stories to magazines and other types of print and online publications; and they'd be right--kind of. I prefer to differentiate between the two.

Articles based on facts, on real events that are intended to inform the reader, or sell an idea or a product to the reader--I class that as freelance. To me, the selling of that type of informative article is true freelance. Story writing is art.

Now they are both part of the craft and many would argue that there is a form of art in the creation of a good freelance article as I have defined it, but these types of articles will never spring from nothing. Stories often do.

2) Once you have decided on the type of writing career you want, be it freelance, or the type where you're only trying to sell fiction, or both, then you can carefully select the newsletters you'd like to receive. Or try the machine gun approach as I did. You'll soon unsubscribe from many of them :)

You'll find that many points are covered in most of the newsletters. If one of them doesn't mention anything new from others you receive, unsubscribe. Take your time, weed through them, slowly. Start with the basics and work from there till you begin gaining regular acceptances. If your writing is good and everyone is telling you so, then you're either not showing the right people or you're aiming too high.

Nothing wrong with aiming high, just remember to work all the way down your submissions path. There's a home for everything somewhere. That may be your own website or another free low reputation magazine, but there is always somewhere.

This has turned into a sermon, hasn't it?

And it all started out by me wanting to give you a heads up on a couple of newsletters I've just received.

PROJECT GUTENBERG OF AUSTRALIA July 2008 newsletter arrived in my inbox during the early hours of the this morning with all sorts of interesting news, including a short story by Henry Lawson. All this for free! Go to the website to subscribe.

Duotrope has also recently arrived with more possible anthology markets. If you want to sell your work, then you need this newsletter. I imagine Ralan's will arrive in the next day or so (it's usually around the beginning of the month), this is another one I wouldn't be without.

I also like getting newsletters with technical help in them such as Tim North's Better Writing Skills. Most often I find I'm already aware of his topic for the month but sometimes a refresher isn't a bad thing.

I do get a few others but I'm not going to try and influence you further. Go to the different writing communities out there. Many have newsletters. Go to the sites about the business of writing or writers sites, many of those also have newsletters. At worst, type newsletters into Google and you'll have over 113,000,000 to search through. Narrow that down with key words like short story, fiction, freelance, etc, etc.

And lastly, get to know the business side of your industry. Not all the best news sites have newsletters but many have subscribable (is that a word?) feeds for blogs and the like. I have a few of the best one's I've found already listed on my sidebar. Go take a look. ----------------->

I hope some of this info is useful.

Good luck and happy hunting for your perfect newsletter.


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