Newsletter 2018-11

In this Issue

Welcome: Carolyn Miller
From Blogging to Tweeting: Michelle Rafter
Why I Hired an Editor: Howard Baldwin
Will More Writers Use Crowdfunding?: Randy Stapilus


by M. Carolyn Miller

Welcome to this inaugural newsletter of the Portland Chapter of ASJA, thanks to fellow ASJA member Jim Carberry. We hope to provide you with current “news and needs” of local members, so please don’t hesitate to contact Jim (

I’m also thrilled to launch the ASJA Portland chapter with fellow professional writers. It has been a dream of mine ever since I moved here nearly two years ago from the Denver/Boulder area.

I not only left behind 40 years in Colorado but also regular gatherings of Boulder Media Women, a loosely-defined group of 600 publishing professionals whose listserv and monthly potlucks provided professional advice, “been there” publishing experience, and occasional journalistic outrage. This was my impetus for initiating the ASJA Portland chapter.

We can make this chapter whatever we want it to be—formal or informal, dues or no dues, speakers or no speakers, etc. There are a lot of unknowns in this early stage and lots of creative potential.

What I do know is that your voice—and attendance, if possible—is needed to help us envision and launch our own unique Portland version of ASJA.

At present, 6-8 of us meet faithfully at monthly gatherings at JoLa Café in John’s Landing on the 3rd Wednesday, 4-6pm (3rd Monday in November and December).

I hope you’ll join us.

I’d love to meet each of you in person.

Carolyn writes business how-to and feature articles. She is also an instructional designer.

If you have questions about the Portland chapter, email her at

From Blogging to Tweeting

by Michelle Rafter

I Missed Blogging, Then Realized I Could Do It on Twitter

Twitter helped me recover from blogging burnout.

After running a freelance writing blog for eight years, I stopped in 2015 when paid work ate up all my time. But I missed it and am a huge Twitter user. After discovering that I could fit a hint or quip about writing or running a freelance business into 280 characters, I committed to writing a post a day, Monday through Friday, under the tagline #freelance tip of the day.
I started in August and haven’t missed a weekday since. I pin tweets that get the most interactions to the top of my Twitter profile, like this one:
#freelance tip of the day – If you ever get asked to price a rush job, remember the old saying about good, fast and cheap – you can only get 2 out of the 3:
1. Good and fast doesn’t come cheap.
2. Good and cheap isn’t going to be fast.
3. Fast and cheap isn’t going to be good.
Other popular tweets include this one:
#freelance tip of the day – Get faster responses by writing better emails:
1. Punch up the subject line.
2. Keep it short.
3. Use bullets to organize – it makes info easier to digest.
4. Bringing up a problem? Include how you’d solve it.
3. Check for typos before hitting “Send”.
And this:
#freelance tip of the day – @freelancersu and @Upwork published their 5th annual survey of freelancing in America. Here’s the main page. My observations to come.
I spend 5 minutes, maybe 10 or 15 if I write a thread with a handful of comments. That amount of time is easy to commit to. Better yet, it’s made blogging fun again. 
Michelle Rafter is a Portland business reporter and ghostwriter. Follow her on Twitter @michellerafter.

Why I Hired an Editor

by Howard Baldwin

Howard Baldwin
Hire an editor before you start querying agents

I’m preparing to query agents for my first mystery novel. In doing so, I should tip my hat to my editor, EA Macom.

A professional editor whom I met through an informal ASJA group in Northern California, she had been vital in identifying character issues, timeline flaws, and other glitches that might have disqualified me from consideration by a top agent.

Although I didn’t necessarily accept all of her suggestions, she exemplifies my long-held belief that every writer can benefit from an editor’s careful eye.

Howard Baldwin is a retired technology journalist and a budding novelist.

Will more writers use crowdfunding?

by Randy Stapilus

I’ve mentioned at a couple of meetings a crowdfunding effort I’m undertaking (to underwrite an online periodical publication) because I think this may be a key route for writers to underwrite their work in the future.

The verdict on this particular effort is still out (feel free to send me a message at if you’d like to know more) but a few points already are clear to me.

First, doing something like this should involve developing a pitch as carefully as it does in developing a proposal for a book or an article.

It should be as carefully targeted as well.

It needs an energetic campaign.

One advantage you would have in this crowdfunding approach, however, is that it can be phased across a period of time, usually a month to two months, so that the effort can reach quite a few people.

I’ll probably have more to say about it as the campaign reaches its conclusion.

Randy Stapilus is a writer, editor and book publisher at Carlton. Follow him on twitter @stapilus.