Rekindle Your Newsletter

The truth is, it took me a long time to buy a Kindle.

It’s not that I don’t like gadgetry, it’s just that I really like books.

I like the way they feel. I like the way they look. I like sitting at my desk and seeing them happily loitering on my bookshelves across the way.

But when I finally tried a Kindle, I was pretty much sold.

First, and because it is Wi-Fi connected, I have immediate access to thousands of books. Plus, I can tap on a word – abibliophobia, for example – and get an instant definition.

Second, on cold nights, I can read in bed while keeping my arms under the covers, advancing the pages with just the tap of a single finger.

Third, in terms of sheer technological excellence, the Kindle is backlit, waterproof, font size-adjustable, and totally readable in bright sunshine.

All in all, pretty impressive.

And yet, the one thing I like most about my Kindle is something most users of this technology are not even aware of:

As I read a book, I can highlight phrases that I find particularly interesting or well written. Then, when I’m finished reading, I can send an entire book’s highlights as a single pdf to my email address.

From there, I ironically print them and keep them in a stack on my bookshelf. Recently saved gems include:

“In bright sunlight she looks like death on a cracker,” from Stephen King’s book, Billy Summers.

“The town was a conveyor belt of despair,” from Matt Haig’s book, The Midnight Library.

“Why is it that client-facing jobs hold such allure for misanthropes?,” from Gail Honeyman’s book, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

The result? Even though the chances of my ever rereading a given book are exceedingly slim, I have found an easy way to capture and review the best parts for future reference, something I do regularly as a way to get my “writing mind” going.

Your Writing Has Highlights, Too

If you publish a newsletter (and if you don’t, you are on a conveyor belt of despair), you know that the hardest part is coming up with good ideas and writing them down.

The rest – formatting, linking, spellchecking, sending, etc. – is important, but that’s just mechanics. Your original content is what matters.

Which means that, if all you are doing when you publish is sending your newsletter as an email, you are not getting full value from your work. “Send it and forget it” is what we did in 2003.

Today, an easy, additional use OF THAT SAME CONTENT (do you think I wrote that in all caps by accident?) is to also post excerpts of it on your social media accounts.

That’s because, in my experience, every newsletter of average length (700 – 900 words?) has about four or five pithy sentences or phrases within. They may not be of Stephen King quality, but they are interesting and intriguing enough that once read, they prompt people to want more.

For example, back in March, I wrote a newsletter called Winning the Content Game. As expected, it was fabulous, and I sent it to all of you. But I didn’t stop there. Over the months, I have been posting pieces of it on my LinkedIn account (see image below).

A few things worth noting…

  • It’s quick. The posts are simply the title (Winning the Content Game), an excerpt (“Amazon doesn’t know it, but its delivery drivers are unwitting participants in a game that my son Evan and I have been playing for the past several months.”), a link back to the newsletter which is posted on this web site, and the original newsletter image.

  • The newsletters are not necessarily recent. I use posts and their associated excerpts for up to a year before I retire them. Since I write about 25 newsletters a year, and each one generates five excerpts, that’s (fellow liberal arts majors, stay with me), about 125 excerpts for me to choose from at any one time.

    But hasn’t everybody already seen these? Not really. Only about one third of subscribers even open a given newsletter and social media posts evaporate quickly. This is a way of getting that same content in front of more people.

  • It’s automated. I use a service called MeetEdgar (there are others) to post the excerpts. Once I create a schedule (X times per week) and add content to my excerpt library, the service just keeps churning away in the background. (I take special satisfaction in knowing that the MeetEdgar machine will continue posting to my LinkedIn account long after I am dead).

Here’s the bottom line.

Posting as described above isn’t the only thing you can do with your newsletter content, nor is it the only way you can do it.

The important point, however, is to remember that content creation is the hard part. Once you’ve done that work, find simple, repeatable ways to reuse it where you can.


Discussion Questions:

  1. What’s your favorite quotation?
  2. What’s your format preference?: ebook, audiobook, physical book, comic book, no book, other?
  3. In what ways do you reuse your original content?

Share your answers below…


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12 thoughts on “Rekindle Your Newsletter

  1. Hayley

    1. ‘She emerged from the womb ready to run a small country’ House Lessons – Erica Burmeister. Not sure it is entirely accurate as just from memory after finishing the paper copy last night. You have however inspired me to dust off my kindle and try the highlighting function.
    2. Physical
    3. Good ques. Just watched the ‘Social dilemma’ so the thought of Edgar is a bit creepy. Regularly send emails to groups so look back on ones I sent a year or few back and adapt and resend.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      1. Love that quotattion, Hayley!
      3. Another creepy in the same way book which I am currently reading (on the Kindle, of course) is The Circle by Dave Eggers.

      Reply
  2. Brandon Rigney

    My best advice for young people everywhere (and since I am now 89 years old, almost everyone else qualifies as “young people”):

    “What happens to you in life is not nearly as important as how you react to it!”

    I reuse my material constantly, because all the young people I meet (see explanation above) have not heard my jokes, wisdom, and pithy comments of past years. And my good older friends don’t remind me they’ve “heard that one before”.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      Haha, that makes sense, Brandon! Likewise, I look forward to the day when I can just have one joke and keep telling it to the same friends.

      Reply
  3. Jessica Eken

    1. Music is frozen architecture. Architecture is frozen music. Goethe. This quote always moves me in unexpected ways.

    2. Real books. I love the words printed on paper. I love book covers. I love leafing through them.

    3. I update my older blogs on interior design elements.

    Reply
    1. Michael Katz Post author

      1. Great quote!
      2. One thing I’ve noticed is that the physical book people are much more passionate about it. We Kindle types tend to keep it quiet, like it’s a late night chocolate eating habit!

      Reply
  4. Lindsay Gower

    “Eschew surplusage.”
    (From Mark Twain’s “Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses” http://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper/HNS/Indians/offense.html).

    Real books (see Jessica’s reasons above!), except at lunch, dinner, and bedtime. If I’m reading during a meal, the Kindle takes less space and I can wipe pasta sauce off it. And, of course, the Kindle is much easier to read in bed. My main problem with the Kindle is remembering the name of the book. With a paper book, you see the title over and over, every time you close the book. Not with a Kindle.

    I’ve reused my own web content through four websites. I used to write blog posts on a collaborative site, then I repurposed them onto my own site — but now they are in storage as I build a new blog site.

    Reply
  5. Dianna Huff

    What’s [one of] your favorite quotations?
    “Ignore unimportant opportunities.” — Steve Jobs

    What’s your format preference?: ebook, audiobook, physical book, comic book, no book, other?
    Paper books. I still use my library card weekly. I have an iPad, but I don’t like reading a screen before falling asleep.

    In what ways do you reuse your original content?
    I repurpose our digital magazine content, Manufacturing Marketing, to the blog. My colleague created branded images and I use these, plus content blurbs (similar to what you do) and post on the magazine LI page. I then reshare using my personal profile.

    Reply
      1. Dianna Huff

        Of course I do! I’ve had it since I moved to Plaistow in 2001. My weekly routine includes visiting the library each Friday afternoon for a fresh supply of books. 🙂

        The library also has this wonderful service — Interlibrary loan. Any book you want, just ask, and the librarian will search other libraries for it. It’s then sent to your library and you pick it up.

        If my library can’t find the book, they sometimes will buy it.

        Reply
        1. Jessica Eken

          @ Dianna – nothing like a real library card and visiting a really good library. I have one myself and love to go to the library. Now, with Covid I am reluctant to go and I really miss it. Nothing like a a good librarian as well!

          Reply

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