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Jane Friedman Electric Speed

In this issue

A note from Jane

When I worked at Writer’s Digest, I oversaw the online education arm, Writer’s Digest University. I didn’t run the day-to-day, but its director reported to me.

Unfortunately, this director position became a revolving door. We couldn’t keep anyone in the job. There were a few reasons for this, but one of them was the unusual nature of the position—it required someone knowledgeable of both e-commerce and online education. This was in 2008, long before Zoom and Teachable.

At one point we found someone who did have direct experience with online writing education. I thought he was the perfect fit. But he wasn’t experienced with email marketing, and because email was the No. 1 way we marketed to students and got enrollments, this weakness quickly became a liability for him. People in our e-commerce division gave him a lot of grief for not hitting his numbers. (While I was more patient, I didn’t hold much power in relation to people in e-commerce. That was yet another problem we faced.)

One day, out of frustration, he sent out a marketing email to customers with the subject line: Bad news.

The open rate of that email was triple anything he had yet sent. Success!

But it was total clickbait. There was no bad news. He was just trying to get his numbers up by any means possible. And the e-commerce leadership was furious.

His was an ingenious and desperate act that fit the situation; I rather admired him for it. (And I liked how it made the e-commerce people mad.) But this wasn’t the kind of success he could repeat; it was a trick he could use only once.

I see authors who adopt similar tactics to get their social media numbers up: they’ll buy followers or advertise to make engagement look better than it is. But these moves only get you so far. If you take shortcuts, you’re just putting off the long-term work that has to be done.

Have a great weekend,

P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
4 Story Weaknesses That Lead to a Sagging Middle

P.P.S. There is more to this newsletter—keep scrolling!
Emerging Voices: A Webzine for Shifting Times


Emerging Voices: A Webzine for Shifting Times

Emerging Voices is a quarterly online webzine going into its third year. Based in London, the webzine presents voices from around the globe reflecting the personal and the political through paintings, poetry, essays, photography and short commentary. Join our Subscriber list to be updated on quarterly postings, and follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram!

Sponsorships help support Electric Speed. Learn more.

Jane’s Electric Speed List

Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. I have not been paid to mention any of these resources and there are no affiliate links.

Looking for better slide presentation templates?

In a year of increased virtual learning and workshopping, there’s a need, more than ever, for better-looking slides. Sometimes the standard PowerPoint templates just don’t cut it. Browse more dynamic and interesting slide designs at Slides Carnival, Slides Go and Slides Mania.

Capture any text on any screen

Do you often need to extract text from graphics or digital documents? TextSniper is a paid app for Apple devices that can capture non-selectable text from images, videos, presentations, websites, and more. (Please keep your use personal and/or legal!)

A clickable roundup of email newsletters recommended in the past three issues

Over the past three issues (see below), the readers of Electric Speed have recommended valuable newsletters they read and subscribe to. I’ve assembled these into a single resource list with links to sign-up forms. If you have a recommendation that’s not on the list, just reply to this email and let me know.

Profile Pic Maker

Create a cool profile picture from any photo

If you don’t have the means to secure a professional headshot, the free Profile Pic Maker will help you modify any decent-looking photo of yourself into something polished. Troublesome background in your photo? This app will remove it automatically.

Regain Momentum In Your Story Middle with Tiffany Yates Martin. $25 class. Wednesday November 18, 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Eastern

Next online class: Regain Momentum In Your Story Middle with Tiffany Yates Martin

On Wednesday, Nov. 18: Nothing’s more thrilling for the creative soul than starting a shiny new story… but then comes the middle of the book. When a manuscript loses its momentum, that doesn’t mean the story isn’t worth fighting for. Figuring out the problem and eliminating the sag can add even more depth and dimension to your book. This class will help you learn how to spot what may be derailing your story, with specific, actionable methods to get things back on track.
Learn more and register

Your turn: Favorite newsletters, Part 3

In the last issue, I asked you to share your favorite email newsletters. The response was so overwhelming that I’ve been parceling out your suggestions over a few issues. In this last batch, I’m sharing newsletters you recommended that aren’t as closely tied to writing and book publishing.
  • For general notes on creativity, female empowerment, relaxation, and encouragement I rely on Alisha’s Yoke and Abundance newsletter. I’m not a crunchy sort of person and so it consistently surprises me that I’m into this. —Leah Lederman
  • Ron Friedman’s The Best Ideas of the Month —Michelle Bish
  • For fans of true crime, Captured and Exposed is a fun dip into the past. Each issue focuses on a particular set of misdeeds and accompanying mugshots from the nineteenth and early twentieth century. —Denise Testa
  • Elise Joy’s newsletter includes books she’s read, short narratives about her family, what she is making, tips on new podcasts to listen to. She has a line of planning products and a book that are fabulous, but she isn’t constantly pushing them. —Jennifer Kelly
  • Samantha Irby, for the laughs! —Nancy Cavillones
  • Key Life Connection: it is not religious, but it is uplifting, and I think, for myself as a writer, tending to my spirit is important to my overall well-being and my writing. —M.S. Gardner
  • Ann Handley’s newsletter on Sundays. Witty, fun and informative. —Joe Large
  • Hyperallergic shares info on arts and museum individuals and communities around the world with a special focus into social justice. While every issue explores something current, their content also celebrates the historic (my world). I share their articles often & even their advertisements are fresh & entertaining. —Ana Brazil
  • Dave Pell’s Next Draft is a terrific daily news curation with some of the best headline puns in the biz. Plus you get an insight into life with Dave, including his coping with a pair of bananas beagles. —Julie Pithers
  • The Bob Lefsetz letter about the music business (and America too) —B. Wiseman
  • For The Interested by Josh Spector —Danielle Barber
  • Mindfck Mondays newsletter from Mark Manson. He writes a lot of pop-psychology and philosophy posts that are usually topical but well thought out and either teach me something new about psychology and philosophy or remind me of things I already knew but forget to apply. He also references a lot of scientific studies and other evidence to support his work. Obviously, it comes with a language content warning. —John Kuempel
  • The rare but fun Hither and Yon by Bob Hostetler. —Glenda Zylinski
  • HackerNewsLetter gathers up the most popular links from the prior week in the HackerNews community. It leans towards my interests in tech and startups, and every week there are a few links that point me to other interesting geeky things in the world. —Todd Sattersten
  • Eva Recinos’ Notes from Eva. Each month Eva shares great new books and articles she’s read, recent writing she’s published, and upcoming opportunities for all kinds of creative people. She also interviews others or shares advice or something she’s knowledgeable on. I absolutely love it! —Marisa Russello
  • Ruth Soukup: she’s upbeat and knows her stuff on blogging and being a better person. —Anne
Next question: I’m shopping for gifts online this year, and have been bookmarking interesting artists and retailers all summer in preparation—like CalamityWare and Madhu Chocolate. What do you have your eye on?

Upcoming online classes

📖 November 18: Regain Momentum In Your Story Middle with Tiffany Yates Martin

⚓︎ November 19: Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less with Jane Friedman

⭐️ December 2: Author Platform—Build Your Foundation for Career Success with Jane Friedman

🔁 December 16: Second Draft—Your Path to a Powerful, Publishable Story with Allison K Williams

👑 January 13: Query Letter Master Class with Critique with Jane Friedman

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Electric Speed is a free newsletter by Jane Friedman that launched in 2009. More than 35,000 subscribers receive it. You can support it by (1) sponsoring an issue or (2) sharing it with friends and colleagues.
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