Remotely writing a newsletter


This week we put out our newsletter and I must tell you how it was done because it couldn’t be less like the newsletters I produced ten years ago. Nothing like it!

The process was amazing because we co-ordinate input from three countries: New Zealand, France and USA.

Claire Thiveyrat, a marketer with considerable experience, has produced our newsletter for most of this year. You can tell which ones she’s produced by the quality of the layout, concise news and information. No redundant word in sight. Wonderful!

So my heart sank when she said she was going overseas for about four months. I immediately visualised the scrappy newsletters that, despite my best intentions, would be going out to our 700 readers. In the days when I produced newsletters the only electronic element was the keyboard I prepared it on.

All that has changed.

I was dreading the day I had to put it together and sort out the layout using Mail Chimp which was a mystery all of its own. Yes, I might be in a technology company but I am still trying to catch up and unravelling what others regard as simple instructions is still a challenge. I think there must be a supernatural being who sees the weakest spot in my character and then arranges life so that I have to face my fears and conquer them. There has been a lot of conquering going on over the last few years.

So when it came time to press the send button of last month’s newsletter I was very nervous. I felt sure something would go wrong. It did.

I had changed all the headings and given them new names. I also had different text fonts and all the information was muddled with items of interest repeated using different words. Seeing the mess I got myself into Claire stepped in this time, thank goodness.

She made sure all the headings were consistent, all the fonts the same and the same size. The information was brief with links to longer articles online. There were no repeats of the same information and we reinforced our core message of being a service for writers and readers.

It was amazing to read the finished version which goes out on Friday.

But what was even more amazing was that she did it all in a library in a remote part of Massachusetts which was the only place she could access the internet. So she downloaded all my emails asking questions about the newsletter which she had been unable to access, worked through them, answered them and then sorted out the newsletter. That is being truly professional!

It reminded me of two things: good people never let you down regardless of how difficult it is to complete an undertaking, and that we can’t be good at everything. The key lies in recognising my own strengths, using them to do what I do well, and acknowledging those whose strengths offset my weaknesses. It is okay not to be good at everything.

And above all else good people never need to say how good they are.

There is a team of such people at The Story Mint and they are the reason we are still here and growing. I am incredibly grateful to them all.

One of our newsletter contributors, Azadeh Nafissi was at University with me. Back then she was doing her Masters in the English Literature and as a student from Iran with English as a Second Language there were times when she struggled. I was more than happy to help where I could.

Now she is in Paris and working as a Film Maker and Screen Writer. These days she also writes for us and arranges Hangouts. When she sent in her first article I was amazed by how well it was written so I told her this.

Below is my note to her:

This is a terrific article. I put it through the Style Guide™ which confirmed my belief that it was well written. Wow, when I think of how your writing was when we were at University!”

Her reply is below.

“Thank you so much. It’s true, I feel great when I see the progress in my writing since then. The Style Guide™ is amazing, very helpful and fun. It motivated me to write several drafts and check the results every time.”

I was delighted to read this.



different countries


location is not that important to writing. I don't have to be in a garden shed concentrating on what I'm doing. It can be in the library, on the couch or on the ferry crossing the harbour. Being prepared for any feed back in order to improve means just get out into the world and share the experience.