[My] newsletter began shortly after I resigned from Roxio, the software company, in July, 2001. At the time I was the editor of two email newsletters (one for Windows, one for Macintosh) with a combined list of 180,000 subscribers, intended to help people to get the most out of their software. I used to write all the material myself (except for the Macintosh software, which I didn’t know well enough); later, when I got busier with the many other parts of my job, I hired outside writers for the feature articles. But there was something from me in every edition, and my signature was at the bottom every time. The return address was my personal email, so when people replied, they immediately reached a real person. This was an important feature, which Roxio has abandoned since my departure.
Because I took this personal approach, I knew that I couldn’t leave without saying goodbye to the subscribers. I included a farewell message in my final newsletter, giving my new website address and private email.
Within two days, I got about 400 messages of thanks, condolence, and farewell (one woman assumed that Roxio had fired me, and furiously offered to complain to the company’s president). A few dozen of those messages included lines like: “Whatever you write in future, I want to read it.” This was a great morale-booster, at a time when I badly needed one. Someone specifically suggested that I start a new newsletter. So I did, and invited all those kind people who had written me to join it. And they did. So the original group of subscribers were mostly people I had never met, who knew me only through my software newsletters. I have since pestered friends and relatives to sign up, and they have graciously done so.
I originally expected to keep writing about technology, something I knew my original subscribers enjoyed reading from me. But I found that I was too burned out to think that hard, and instead began writing about what I was up to, and what was on my mind. So far, most of you have done me the honor of enjoying whatever I throw at you. (I have been writing about technology, as paying freelance work: software manuals for Roxio Germany).
I’m also enjoying the freedom of not representing a company. Admittedly, a lot of my personality was detectable in what I wrote for Roxio (this seems to be part of what made it so effective), but I avoided potentially contentious topics; public relations means making people feel good, smoothing them down rather than stirring them up. In this new venue, I’m free to be myself, and, as those who know me personally can attest, “sweetness and light” is not me!
This issue is a new departure: I’m including a guest column from my dad. We were talking about the war, he said some things that struck me, and I asked him to write about them. I know that my subscribers have a wide range of experiences and opinions, and not all may agree with him; do feel free to respond! I hope to have more guest columns in future, not because I can’t write plenty myself, but because this group is made up of interesting people with interesting thoughts and stories, which you sometimes generously share with me. I find these stories fascinating, and believe the rest of you will as well.
A few practical notes:
- I send out newsletters no more than twice a week, usually much less. Lately it’s been more frequent because I’ve had more time and more to say; when I get busy with paying work, things get very quiet around here. I usually keep each issue to 4 or 5 pages.
- All the newsletters are archived, so if you want to catch up on back issues in the order and format they originally appeared, go there.
- Almost everything I publish in the newsletters I also put on this site, often adding pictures and links. For books and movies, I provide buy links to Amazon, both US and UK. If you buy via any of these links, I get a commission. So far this hasn’t made me rich, but it’s fun to see what people click through to, and a few people have actually bought (thank you!).
- The site also contains a resumÃ© section with pages about various facets of my work, and what people have thought of it (only the good opinions, of course <grin>). I need more freelance work, so if you know someone who might have a use for any of my skills, I’d be very grateful for leads.
- A fantasy novel I’ve been working on for 15 years is available for download, though it’s not quite finished.
Questions, comments, and suggestions are always welcome!