Say hello to “The Newsletter”

It might be the tryptophan talking, but recently I had an idea for a new way to encourage collaboration between writers, editors, photographers, and all of the different kinds of storytellers who exist somewhere in between.

As I’ve been exploring ways to crowd source content, I always focussed on established editorial norms. Find the people, develop a publication, then work together on the publication. But, this is tendious and not very engaging. I then began to turn around my thinking. What if I dedicated my effort towards the purpose of matching writers and editors with potential publishers? Or, what if the audience I wanted to serve were actually accidental writers, editors, and publishers?

I had also been thinking a little bit about how diverse newsletters could be. In some ways, newsletters are like miniature newspapers, but there are a lot of other cases where they are far more informal. Some are entertaining, and some are pretty much just letters. And, they are very common — I receive two or three email newsletters per day in my inbox.

So, I’ve been thinking that there must be a way to tear the curtain away from the editorial process for a newsletter and outsource it to anybody who might be interested in collaborating. To test my theory that it could work, I’ve established a publication on Medium called The Newsletter. Each of its stories will contain information about a newsletter that is incomplete. People can submit their work via email, by posting in a community, or by responding directly via Medium. Responses to a given article about a newsletter will be incorporated into the issue of that newsletter.

Each issue of a newsletter would follow a process similar to the development sprint. After a set amount of time — either days, or weeks — the content that has been submitted will be compiled together and then presented as a single, self-contained newsletter that anybody can read. I’m hoping that the final results could be shared via Medium, or perhaps somewhere else.

Some newsletters might be one-offs, but I hope that most would be continuous. When new content comes in, I would generate another issue.

First two newsletters

I’ve created the first two newsletters: “The Holiday Herald,” and “Ice Breaker.” More information can be found within their corresponding Google+ communities which can be found here.The Holiday Herald is a quick newsletter I established as a first test of my theories. The first issue is calling for stories about Thanksgiving, and I feel like a follow-up issue might revolve around stories about Christmas. I started Ice Breaker as a vehicle for the very same article that you’re reading right now. It had occurred to me that if I wanted to introduce something new, maybe somebody else did too.

Publishers

If you have a newsletter idea, then feel free to submit it by either sending an email or filling out the online form here. I’ll take a look at your proposal and get back with you. I’m also open to incorporating existing newsletters, so let’s talk if you’re interested in working together.

Writers

It’s best if you could write your newsletter content via either Medium or Google Drive. I’ve set up an integration between Hipchat and Google Drive which I think will make it easier for participants to coordinate their work.

Building on the idea of “The Newsletter”

If “The Newsletter” proves to be successfull, I might be able to adapt its content for a larger publication. Think “Readers’ Digest” for the new millennium, or a “Greatest Hits” edition. At the very least, it would continue to be a vehicle for my own writing which tends to be all over the map.

Now this is where I turn everything over to you, the reader. Does this idea make sense? Do you think it will work? Are you willing to participate as a writer or an editor? Let me know via the various methods for feedback. I’m hoping to post an update during the next couple of weeks after I’ve learned more.



Originally published at docs.google.com.

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