Thursday, April 26, 2007



Today I unsubscribed from what used to be one of my favourite writing newsletters. The content, which is written by a variety of writers, is as strong as ever, and I suspect I will occasionally pop to the web site for a quick read. But the excitement and impatience that used to drive me to regularly check my inbox on the day the newsletter came out is gone.

And the reason is that the new editor-chief is not talking to me. The previous owner/editor in-chief wrote chatty editorials about her writing projects, things that made her happy/sad/annoyed or that we simply interesting for working writers to know.

She spoke about the craft of writing in a way I could easily relate to. She was like a friend who had walked a difficult path and come out a winner and would hold my hand to do the same. The new editor-in-chief completely fails to do this.

I waited for months before deciding to move on, as I’ve been a subscriber since 2000 and was a very loyal reader. Each week I would wait anxiously for the newsletter to arrive, hoping that the next editorial would be better and speak to me. It didn’t.

She writes about issues in a very intellectual way, and can easily support her arguments with documented fact. Some of the issues she raises are being debated on the blogosphere, so there is no doubt that her editorials hold some relevance for our times. But somehow, she misses the mark, and fails to speak to my head or heart.

Her editorials don’t help me see the world differently, and they certainly don’t make me care about the issues she raises.

What has happened to this newsletter, and my decision to unsubscribe, is a strong lesson on what we as writers should strive for: to touch our readers' heads and hearts.

There is no denying that the SA publishing environment primarily serves the educational market, but if my story doesn't grab the acquisition editor by the throat and make her read until the end, how I am going get her to buy it?

How am I going to encourage the love of books and reading, if my stories don't make kids want to turn another page until then end, and then find another book I wrote?

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