Hiya writer friends,
It’s recently come to my attention that we’re sending out the wrong “welcome” message. Several people who subscribed in the last few weeks never got the link to download our free US and UK agents lists. To refresh your memory, these are comprehensive lists with 1,500+ literary agents in the US and UK, organized by agency, with links to their websites, what they’re looking for, and links to their recent sales.
If you never got it (or didn’t know about it), you can find it here.
Also, a reader needs our help. Leslie Stonebraker is an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is conducting a survey to collect data from writers who are doing the everyday business of writing. Here’s the link to the survey, which will take 10-15 minutes to complete. She’s accepting survey responses through August 3.
Enjoy the issue!
NEWS & VIEWS
In April 2021, Substack launched a million-dollar initiative called Substack Local, which aimed to “foster and develop the local news ecosystem by helping independent writers build local news publications based on the subscription model.” Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie said at the time: “The number one problem that local news needs to overcome is the failure of old business models. This is the start of our attempt to foster something new.”
It wasn’t free money for the participants. According to reports, the $75,000 given to Examiner Media, for instance, was in four instalments over the course of a year, with Substack keeping 85 percent of the recipients’ revenue in the first year and 10 percent thereafter. The grant was also contingent upon the recipients quitting their jobs and focusing on the newsletter full time.
So, the question now is: How did it go?
Not so well, according to Andrew Fedorov at The Fine Print. A year after the program was launched, “most of the newsletters are no closer to being sustainable businesses and some are shutting down,” he writes. The intent, while good, had some bad execution behind it. Things such as:
- No business help.
- “Ridiculous” growth hacks such as “a good way to promote their titles would be to land profiles in The New York Times.”
- Put up a round of failed Facebook ads that “netted us a bunch of angry grandparents who didn’t know what they had subscribed to or why, and they just sent us angry emails about it.”
- “The company seemed to misunderstand the needs of the writers in the program.”
- Pairing with the wrong editors. Hanna Raskin, who writes about food in the South, was paired with an editor in Oregon who tended to work with poets, for instance.
The main problem, however, seems to be a fundamental lack of understanding of how local publications work. “Anyone who has worked in local news knows it’s as complex as a Rube Goldberg machine, and every community is its own community-specific Rube Goldberg machine,” writes Defector’s investigations editor Diana Moskovitz. “What Miami needs is not what Detroit needs, even if, yes, a long time ago they were once part of the same newspaper chain.”
Local news and local media around the world serve an incredibly important function, but have been struggling for a while now. And after repeated attempts by several organizations and companies to “fix local news” and pump funds into organizations, one thing is clear: it is not money alone, but innovative approaches paired with a deep understanding of the audience, that will fix it.
For one writer, creativity and domesticity have always been at odds: “I sometimes ask myself if I would be as great a writer as my father if I’d stayed single, childless, cloistered. To be a great writer or artist, how ruthless do you need to be? How single-minded? Do you have to be the kind of ruthless where in front of your only child and your wife of 47 years you tell your doctor that you only care about writing?”
Finding joy in self publishing: “Before releasing a book, it is imperative that you have a business plan for your book business. You are more than just an author. Your success is dependent upon how your book business is structured. It was a slow start for me in my book business because of this. I didn’t see an increase in my sales until about the second or third year in business, because I didn’t have a solid marketing strategy and business plan. You can’t expect to sell books with no plan.”
The Chicken Soup for the Soul series has a bunch of new titles coming up that are open for submissions. These include:
Cats (Deadline: August 19, 2022)
We want your true funny stories, your heartwarming stories, and your mindboggling stories about all the simply amazing things that your cat does.
Dogs (Deadline: August 19, 2022)
We want your true funny stories, your heartwarming stories, and your mindboggling stories about all the simply amazing things that your dog does.
Funny stories (Deadline: August 30, 2022)
Share your funny stories about something that happened to you in your life – in your relationship with a partner or spouse, a parent or child, a family member or friend, at work or at home – that made you and the people around you laugh out loud.
How stepping outside my comfort zone changed me (Deadline: July 31, 2022)
Tell us your own stories about stepping outside your comfort zone and how that changed your life.
Impact of a Chicken Soup for the Soul story on me (Deadline: August 30, 2022)
If a Chicken Soup for the Soul story has made a big difference to your life, we want your story! Tell us the title of the story that affected you, the title of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book in which it appeared and the name of its author.
The advice that changed my life (Deadline: September 30, 2022)
We are looking for stories that contain a great piece of advice that you were given or advice that you gave to someone else.
The power of positive thinking (Deadline: July 31, 2022)
How did you “think positive” and how did it change your life? Tell us your success story about using the power of positive thinking!
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Do you hear the word “artist” and think of someone sitting by the window and staring out into the world?
Or do you hear the word “artist” and think about someone furiously typing away at their keyboard?
Could you hear the word “artist” and think of a person who walks into a business meeting with confidence and walks out with a six-figure book contract?
There can be many definitions and interpretations to a single word. The interpretation you put on the word “artist” is the version of it that you will become.
AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban forced a longtime war correspondent to publicly retract some of her articles [last] week, telling her that she would go to jail if she did not, she said, in the latest crackdown on press freedom in Afghanistan. The reporter, Lynne O’Donnell, an Australian who writes for Foreign Policy and other publications, explained her circumstances on Wednesday, after she had safely left Afghanistan. “They dictated. I tweeted,” she wrote on Twitter. “They didn’t like it. Deleted, edited, re-tweeted. Made video of me saying I wasn’t coerced. Re-did that too.”
INDIA: “One might think that a language market of 300 million people would be an enticement for a company like Amazon to offer Bengali as a supported language for its Kindle ebook store. Amazon does, after all, support five Indian languages for its Amazon India operation (ebooks only, not print or audio). But it’s been left to a domestic Indian outfit to try plug this particular gap in the market.”
SRI LANKA: “On the evening of Saturday, July 9, members of the paramilitary police Special Task Force assaulted a reporting team with the privately owned broadcaster News First covering a protest outside Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s residence in the capital city of Colombo, according to a report by CNN and multiple reports by News First.”
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