[Electric Speed] When is it time to go big?

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

One of the first jobs I ever applied for, and got, was editor of my college newspaper.

But until this day, I cringe at one of the arguments I made to the hiring committee about why I should have the job.

In my proposal for what should change, I suggested running more national news coverage, to get students out of their campus bubble.

It was a terrible idea, although no one said that. I guess it’s possible some agreed with me, I don’t know. But the underlying mission—and usually the key strength—of a college newspaper is that it covers issues that matter most locally.

My motivation for nationalizing coverage was partly a self-aggrandizing one. At the time, I felt that little of consequence happened amidst the corn fields of Indiana. The outside world was where Important Things happened, and I wanted to invest my work with significance.

Over the years, as I’ve come to recognize that folly, I always check myself when I’m tempted to turn something small and focused into something big and broad. Is it for my own ego? Or is there a genuine need to go big?
Jane

P.S. Join me for a Cincinnati happy hour! I’m hosting a free gathering on Nov. 15 for newsletter subscribers. RSVP here.

P.P.S. Most popular blog post at my site last month: 3 Ways That Writerly Grit Leads to Publishing Success

Cartoon by Bob Eckstein: a typewriter with a blank sheet of paper in it. Behind it is a transistor radio, and to the side is a mug of coffee emblazoned with a peace symbol.
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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.)
Read a book without judging it by its cover
This website, Recommend Me a Book, presents you with the first page of a book—but it doesn’t show you the cover, title, or author. Even though we all judge books by their covers, this really underlines how many assumptions we bring to the page when we experience the packaging first. Look for the settings wheel at the bottom of the page if you prefer to pre-set the genre (but I wouldn’t do that to start).
A more advanced (paid) version of Pocket
Guilty admission: I’ve been using and saving articles to Pocket for nearly 10 years, but I haven’t opened it and read something in probably three years. So why in the world do I keep saving things to Pocket! It’s probably time to go nuclear and start over.

If and when I do that, I have my eye on Upnext, which helps you consume the stuff you’re saving. I like its design and user experience, which might inspire me to actually read what I save. Plus you can import from Pocket! That said, the cost is steep, $70/year. (Maybe that’s a good thing? One might actually use it then?)
Do you love gradients? Meet Vivid Gradient Generator
This gradient generator goes way beyond the standard two-color gradients you’ll find in most design tools. Plus it eliminates the gray dead zone that can occur. Brilliant tool, and free. H/t Postlight
Just for fun: Design the next iPhone
It’s worth it just to see what it looks like with a rotary dial or antenna. Play.
 
5 Steps to an Airtight Plot with Tiffany Yates Martin. $25 class. Wednesday, October 5, 2022. 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. Eastern.
NEXT ONLINE CLASS
Oct. 5: 5 Steps to an Airtight Plot with Tiffany Yates Martin
What’s keeping you from finishing—or starting—that story you’ve been dying to tell? If you’re like a lot of writers, you might be stuck on plotting. Wrestling your characters and ideas into a strong, cohesive, propulsive story can get overwhelming, especially when you get “lost in the forest,” so deep in the woods you can’t see daylight—or the way out.

The 5 simple, straightforward steps in this course will give you a solid, actionable road map for your story—a clear, workable guide to make sure you’re keeping momentum strong as you propel readers steadily through your story to a satisfying, cohesive conclusion.

Your turn: Swag & merchandise vendors
In the last issue, I asked you to tell me where you get your book swag or marketing merchandise from. Heres a selection of what you said:

  • For book-related merchandise, we’ve used UPrinting.com quite a lot. They’ve done everything from our business cards and mailing labels to bookmarks (in lots of styles), table banners, even retractable banners for authors to take along to their signings. The design tools are easy to use and delivery has been quick! —Connie Shelton
  • I’ve done a lot with Zazzle and Vistaprint, and I must say, Vistaprint wins hands-down almost every time—except for coffee mugs. For some reason, Zazzle seems to be able to produce high-quality photo-print coffee mugs that last (effectively) forever. I love Queensboro for top-quality embroidered things, from bags to hats to jackets and dress shirts. (For me, it’s polo shirts.) One more: if you write high fantasy, consider investing in handmade mugs by Deneen Pottery. I have ordered custom Deneen mugs in four or five different styles for more than twelve years now. The glaze colors are AMAZING and they are durable too. But plan well in advance. —Nicolas Nelson
  • I find 4Imprint has a large range of products, but if you dig around they often offer various kinds of notepads, notebooks, and folios that are great as book swag. I look for when they are on sale. I prefer Pens.com for swag pens because they’re actually great pens that last a long time. —Cecilia Tan
  • I’m a graphic designer, so I use several resources I’ve discovered through my work for book promotion. A friend (and former client) owns a promotional products company, MuseOnline.net. She’s really talented at helping find new and creative ideas. I’ve found surprisingly affordable and interesting options through her. For my book Praying Upside Down, I had a vendor on Etsy make little metal discs with the word “pray” stamped on them (upside down, of course) and I hand-strung them on leather cords for necklaces to send to influencers. The people on Etsy are amazing. And finally, for a book called #InstaPrayer, I discovered that M&Ms will custom print candies, so I did several different hashtag and emoji ones to put in small bags. —Kelly Stanley
  • We use Bonfire.com for high-end swag creation and love it. The quality is great and they don’t charge fees for nonprofits. —Dana Kaye

Next question: This interview with Yiyun Li mentions her practice of rereading certain books every year. Is there a book you reread? Hit reply to this message, or share on the Discord server for Electric Speed subscribers.
 
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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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