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GET CREATIVE WITH TINYLETTERAs anyone who subscribes to Little Ms or Lena Dunham’s Lenny Letter knows, email newsletters aren’t always dry-as-dust efforts. Nor are they only for corporate entities. In 2011 email marketing company MailChimp – which automates distribution to opt-in contactson a database – purchased their smaller competitor TinyLetter and turned it into a free, easy- to-use version of its business product. Now more than 100,000 people send TinyLetters to up to 5,000 of their friends.Many journalists’ newsletters consist of links to articles by other people, but others use them to tell stories their day jobs don’t allow. Sophie Heawood uses The Sophist ( TheSophist) to share more personal, more risqué, material. ‘I wanted to feel free to swear and make rude jokes about shagging in nightclub toilets – the sort of stuff my editors always want to take out,’ she says.There’s also the freedomto write in different genres. Freelance literary publicist Laura Waddell ‘created what I wished existed’ with Lunchtime Poetry (, which delivers a hand-picked poem every weekday. And Karen Onojaife specialises in serialised stories. Her latest, Here be Monsters (,is styled as blog posts writtenby Arike, a London accountant with a Nigerian background, about her experiences of mental illness, ambition, racism, and relationships. ‘There are so many women and girls like Arike in real life,’ says Onojaife. ‘This ismy contribution to the ongoing project of making space for them in fiction too.’Digital strategist Jacque Blotnik says readers enjoy newsletters that are consistent and specific, with a unique angle. Whatever the form, TinyLetterstake effort, often for a small audience (the average letter has 265 subscribers and is opened by only 60 per cent of them). But a niche reach is also an attraction, because it allows a writer to build a connection with an audience via original work or thoughtful curation.Though not its prime purpose, this can lead to a book deal.In 2015, the 4,500 readers of Charlotte Shane’s TinyLetter, Prostitute Laundry, about herexperience of sex work, helped raise $27,842 for a self-published version. The e-book is now sold by Emily Books.There’s also the opportunity to make some money. From 2015-16, Sian Meades shared covetable yet affordable fashion and décor via her TinyLetter, The Friday Wishlist. ‘I was in a job I hated. It started as a weekly project just to help me deal with it,’ she says. She used software from Skimlinks ( and Shopstyle ( to add ‘affiliate links’ to products, which meant she was paid whenever readers clicked on them. She Children’s author and illustrator Debbie Ohi shares practical and friendly wisdom on writing and getting published, alongside her own cute pictures, comics and reviews. Great for encouragement during a mid- writing The web’s saltiest agony aunt and self- avowed ‘raging bitch’ dispenses advice on personal, political and professional quandaries. Hilarious, blunt and cynical, there’s little she hasn’t tackled. Capitalism, kidney donation, polyamory... it’s all there. And it’s a winning formula– a ‘Best of’ her columns has just been published by Icon.enough to fund year one of her literature MA, and was inspired to relaunch her dormant lifestyle site Domestic Sluttery as a daily newsletter (domesticsluttery. com).Blotnik would like to see TinyLetter used in more inventive ways – most still consist ofblocks of text. More importantly, it’s essential to think aboutwhat readers want. This couldbe advice, information, or just stories they can empathise with, but is unlikely to be navel-gazing or self-promotion. ‘Think about what value you’re providing,’she says. ‘Even if they know you, people don’t want to hear only about what you’re up to.’HOW WE USE ITJustin Wolfe is the author of Thank You Notes ( thankyounotes), a diary inthe form of a daily note to the universe, where every sentence starts with ‘I’m thankful...’.It’s less New Age, more a concerted effort to find thegood in everyday life. Escape from No Future ( Emily Reynolds’ newsletter about mental health issues: ‘It’s validating to know that aspects of your life that feel insurmountably challenging are also challenging for other people.’ ❐DIANE SHIPLEY is a freelance journalist who has contributed to the Guardian, Times, Ms and more. She covers many topics, but is especially interested in the intersection of technology and Highbrow content with an accessible and pithy style. Founded by three women academics and writers, The New Inquiry offers critical debate outside the ivory tower, tackling politics, culture and literary criticism. We loved Ruby Brunton’s piece ‘Coming of age in modern dystopia’, exploring the influence of globalisation on the contemporary Bildungsroman.publishingforhumans.postagon. com Literary Agent Lizzy Kremer offers thoughtful and lyrical explorations of how to read, publish – and live. Kremer’s blog is intimate and informative, offering insight into the human soul hiding behind the agent’s door.CATHERINE ELLIS► Sign up at and choose a username. If you’re not sure of the theme yet, your own name gives you the most flexibility.► You’ll be asked for a postal address, which is visible to subscribers. If that makes you nervous, list a PO Box. Many users fudge this: e.g. ‘the cutest bungalow in Blackburn’.► If you want a loyal following, it’s important to be regular. Will you be mailing daily, weekly or monthly?► You need to specify your readers in advance, so share the link to your sign-up page far and wide.► Make a selected newsletter archive available via the sign-up page, so people can try before they commit to signing up.► Try not to check the stats (each letter’s open rate and what links people liked) more than once a day – it’s easy to become obsessed.more than 100,000 people send TinyLetters to up to 5,000 of their friendsHOW TOBLOGWATCHmslexia Mar/Apr/May 2017 17

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