Electric Speed - [Electric Speed] Bias for survival

Digital tools and resources for creative people
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Electric Speed from Jane Friedman
A note from Jane

Recently I was speaking on a panel about email newsletters when I realized I was a significant outlier compared to my fellow panelists. I don’t send as frequently as most, I don’t study my metrics, and I don’t follow best practices on email length or subscriber retention.

Could I be doing better if I modified my practices? Maybe. Probably. (OK, certainly.)

But what’s more important to me is sustainability. I’m only willing to do what I can reasonably sustain for years. I alone am responsible for staving off my own burnout. If I get tired of doing my work, there is no one else to step in. (For the most part. I have my husband, Mark, to thank for freeing up my time to focus on writing and teaching. But he can’t write or teach for me if I grow tired of it.)

Recently, I saw this tweet from Ben Orenstein: "I got asked for some advice about starting a podcast. My #1 tip: there’s a 95% chance you’ll quit within a year, so spend ~all your effort avoiding that outcome. Everything else rounds to unimportant."

What does that mean?

You can ignore best practices. You can ignore all the things you "must" do. Instead, set up your own parameters that make it likely you will stick with your new activity.

Later on, when you have better footing—and valuable experience in the trenches—you can decide how to level up your game and what additional effort might be worthwhile.

But don’t make the game so hard to continue that you stop before you’ve even really started. "Bias for survival," as Orsentein said.

Jane

P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
Why Agents Don't Give Feedback—And Where to Get It Instead

P.P.S. There is more to this newsletter. Keep scrolling!

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Jane’s Electric Speed List
Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. (I am not paid to mention any of these resources; there are no affiliate links.)
Accidentally write a whole paragraph in ALL CAPS?
Yep, it happens to the best of us. And then you have to retype the whole thing. Unless you have Convertcase. Quickly and easily fix your shouting.
Search for specific phrases in movies
This is pretty magical: Type in a phrase of any kind, and PlayPhrase will play movie scenes featuring that phrase. I tried "Stop bothering me." (I admit my cat, Zelda, was interfering with my keystrokes as I typed this one.) You’re limited to five searches for free.
A face search engine that’s a bit creepy
I found out about PimEyes from a New York Times article. Basically it’s a Google image search for faces. The results are insanely accurate and far reaching, at least when I ran a search on myself.
Quickly turn web content into an ebook
EpubPress is a browser-based tool that gathers up whatever online content you specify, and creates an EPUB (ebook) file out of it. You can then load up your EPUB onto your preferred reading device. I hope it goes without saying, but this tool is for personal use only; do not violate anyone’s copyright by publishing and/or distributing the resulting file. H/t Dense Discovery
 
Query Letter Master Class with Jane Friedman. $79 workshop. Wednesday June 29, 2022. 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Eastern.
NEXT ONLINE CLASS
June 29: Query Letter Master Class with Jane Friedman
The query letter has one purpose, and one purpose only: to seduce the agent or editor into reading or requesting your work. Learn the best practices of query writing (in any genre) and submit your work with confidence.
Your turn: search engine hacks
In the last issue, I asked you to tell me about your favorite search engine hacks. Heres what you said:

  • Search bangs at DuckDuckGo. It’s a shortcut to a site. For instance, if I want to search Wikipedia, I type !wiki Tom Cruise into the search bar and I’ll end up at Tom’s Wikipedia page. There are thousands of search bangs out there, such as !a for Amazon and !gm for Google Maps. See them all. —Bob Mueller

  • I think we get too complacent with Google and forget that it often doesn’t immediately provide us the things we really need or want. I’ve grown to like WebCrawler. It is the oldest search engine that still exists today. Another good one is Dogpile. It aggregates results from the search engines Google, Yahoo, and Yandex. —Cindy Bahl

Next question: Any TikTok users here? Tell me about one of your favorite accounts. Hit reply to this message to let me know, or share on the Discord server for Electric Speed subscribers.
 
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Upcoming online classes
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"At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential."
—Marshall McLuhan
Jane Friedman
Created by Jane Friedman
I report on the publishing industry and help authors understand the business of writing.

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I love this salad dressing for kale. (See step 2, ignore everything else.)
 
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