How many writers does it take to change a light bulb? by Mari Biella

c/o John Webber|Wikimedia Commons
I’m old enough to remember a time when newsletters arrived in the post – the old-fashioned post, that is, as delivered by a postman. You know, post that was actually written down or printed out on paper and stuffed into an envelope. Post that took a few days, rather than a few nanoseconds, to arrive.

How a few short years can change things, eh? The sight of the postman trudging up to the gate at the crack of dawn is becoming ever more of a rarity. It’s not yet quite extinct, since many organisations and businesses seem curiously reluctant to embrace the internet age. (I’m thinking here of some of the utility companies I’ve been forced to deal with recently, most of which seem to have a positive aversion to that newfangled techno-internet thingy, though strangely enough they have absolutely no problem bothering you with pointless telephone calls about five times a day. But I digress...)

Just a few years ago, the idea of running your own newsletter was fantastical indeed, unless you were rich. Back then, running a newsletter would have entailed collecting people’s actual addresses (the place where they actually, physically live, that is, rather than some strange,wraithlike internet residence), which you’d then have to store somehow – often on paper, unless you were one of the first to experiment with those highfalutin database things. Then you’d have to design your newsletter (or get someone to do it for you), deliver your design to a printer, and stuff the result into dozens or hundreds of envelopes, which would then be sealed and stamped and sent off to their various recipients. Needless to say, the entire process would be expensive, in terms of both time and money, and would frankly have been impossible unless you had a very healthy bank balance and a team of dedicated staff.

Just a few years ago, then, the Authors Electric newsletter would not have existed – but then again, just a few years ago Authors Electric itself would not have existed. Not, that is, unless we all met up in a big room every so often to talk writing, and invited just about everyone we met to come along and join in. Come to think of it, that idea is not without its charms ... Sadly, it’s impossible. We’re a disparate group, not least in geographical terms, and getting 29 authors together in one room might just be asking for trouble in any case...

An actor friend of mine once told me the following joke:

Q: How many actors does it take to change a light bulb?
A: Ten. One to change it, and nine to say they could have done it better.

c/o KMJ|Wikimedia Commons

I’ve a funny feeling that a similar gag might be applied to writers. (I’m joking, by the way. I’ve rarely met a more mutually supportive bunch than my AE colleagues. Mind you, if a dispute about whose turn it was to bring the booze erupted, just about anything could happen...)

Happily, in 2015 organising a newsletter is not a great deal more complicated than changing a light bulb, thanks to some fabulous services like the oddly-named Mailchimp. I mean, having an email address and internet access is pretty much de rigueur these days. How else would you get to look at pictures of Grumpy Cat, take pointless Facebook quizzes, and while away hours wandering the streets using Google Streetview?

c/o New York Zoological Society|Wikimedia Commons
Anyway, thanks to our simian friends over at Mailchimp, the Authors Electric newsletter is now up and running! (I should know, since I volunteered to set it all up. I don’t know why, I must have been in a good mood at the time.) In return for your email address, you’ll get exclusives and occasional gifts, and you’ll be the first to learn about giveaways, price promotions, and new releases. In effect, you’ll get virtual access to our very own VIP room. We won’t spam you and we won’t share your details with anyone else. You won’t be bombarded with emails, and you can unsubscribe whenever you want.

If that sounds like a good deal, please complete the form in the top right-hand corner of this page, or click on this link...

...which should, if all is well and the chimps are not on strike, take you to a signup form. And thank you for your support.

I leave you with a riddle: how many writers does it take to change a light bulb?

Answers on a (virtual) postcard, please...


Chris Longmuir said…
Nice way to start the day, an enjoyable post to read, light hearted and amusing, and who could resist the invitation to get the inside dirt on Authors Electric by subscribing to the newsletter. I've sent my application off already and can't wait to see the newsletter. You never know, I might even send in the lowdown on my Dundee books and of course me, if you're lucky!
Mari Biella said…
Thanks for commenting, Chris! You are most welcome to send in any information you want.
Anonymous said…
Looks good. Have subscribed already!
Lydia Bennet said…
Thanks for your efforts setting this up Mari! it'll be interesting to see how it evolves. I expect to be kept up to date with all sorts of scandals and scurrilous rumours.
Mari Biella said…
Thank you, Pandora and Valerie!

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