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Stop The Presses! What Everybody Ought To Know About Publishing

Aug 17, 2007
Imagine picking up your daily newspaper and fiding blank pages. Or turning on the 6 p.m. news to be greeted by a perfectly coiffed host intoning, "Nothing actually happened in the word today, so in place of our usual newscast, we're bringing you this rerun of The Simpsons." You can't picture that actually happening, can you?

And not because there's no such thing as a "slow news" day. I used to work as a journalist and let me tell you, we had plenty of days when it seemed like a better idea to just go home and climb into a hot bath. There's nothing worse than late December when the paper is huge (thanks to all of the extra advertising for the Boxing Day sales) and most of government -- from municipal to federal -- has virtually shut down for the holidays. Ditto for any business that isn't retail.

No news doesn't mean no newspaper

In the absence of "news," we still put out a paper. And we filled it with acres of what we called "human interest stories." You know what I mean. Stories about charitable organizations that needed help, or about students who did good deeds or about odd and unusual hobbies people had. As "serious" journalists, we found these stories slightly distasteful, of course. But we did them anyway. Why?

Simple -- we had subscribers who expected a paper every single day, whether there was breaking news or not.

Your word needs to count for something

Just call me an old fashioned gal, but I believe that publishing an e-zine, blog or newsletter is lot like producing a regular newspaper. As the writer, editor or publisher, you have made a promise to your readers.

It's all about delivery

And what could be a more basic promise than the one about when your publication is going to appear? "When I get around to it," is not an acceptable choice. Whatever frequency you pick -- be it weekly, every two weeks or monthly -- you need to deliver. Whatever happens in your life or your company's life -- from computer failures to redesigning your website to the dog eating your paperwork -- doesn't matter. You need to deliver. And, sorry, it also doesn't matter that your publication is free. You have made a promise -- maybe not a legally enforceable one, but a promise none-the-less.

And that's a promise

And if you fail to keep it, I can promise you this: Your readers will cease to respect you. That's a pretty steep price to pay. Isn't it better just to write and produce the darn thing?
About the Author
A former journalist, Daphne Gray-Grant is a writing and editing coach who helps people writer better, faster. Visit her website at http://www.publicationcoach.com where you can sign up for her free weekly newsletter on power writing.
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