27 January 2010

Introducing the new 7 Weeks Challenge 2010 
(back by popular demand), where we encourage each 
other to set wringing goals and meet them in the next 7 
weeks (our deadline is, conveniently, St. Patrick's Day).
   - Brian A. Klems, Newsletter Editor, 
     Writer's Digest Magazine

Another day, another rant. This week, I've received two emails that set my teeth on edge. The first arrived several days ago from a writer's organization that focuses entirely on memoir. Its purpose was to let me know that annual membership rates were on the rise, and if I wanted to save money, I should enroll before February 1st. The mail identified the membership benefits and perks, most of which are probably very nice. Monthy teleseminars, discounted rates on classes, access to the organization's blog, and so on. There was only one catch.

The "current rate of $127 per month." Yikes. At a time when the economy is in the toilet, people are scrambling to scratch up money for housing, car payments, utilities, health insurance and everything else, this is something they are expected to fork over a Franklin and change for? I couldn't believe it. I sent a terse reply, quoting their email. I asked in closing, "Are all your members rich?"

I'd gotten the email only because a friend recommended I have a look at the website. I'm a writer, so she figured I might enjoy keeping abreast of writing trends and hearing what others have to say about the state of the craft. But who these people were really, and what they could possibly be offering that warranted that monthly fee, I had to investigate more carefully.

I went to the website again, where on the home page was a similar announcement in bold lettering designed to catch the eye as what I'd received in my email, stating that this was the last chance to join at the old rate of $127 per year. Per year, not per month.

Within minutes of my discovery, I received a private email from the organization's secretary, who apologized profusely for the "typo," and assuring me the error would be quickly corrected. Sure enough, hard on this email's heels arrived another dispatch, this time to the entire mailing list, re-sending the invitation to join, with the amount corrected.

And today, my inbox contained the Writer's Digest newsletter from Brian Klem, which is quoted above. I'm wondering what a "wringing goal" is, but I'm surely not interested in any writing that involves being hanged out to dry.

Seriously, I'm wondering if there are writers gullible enough to buy services, instruction or goods from people who don't take the time to read what they're sending out into the world, yet profess significant expertise. What has happened to the concept of self-editing before sending? Perhaps that's what's been wrung out of the writing process after all.

Excuse me. My writing projects await my attention, with or without significant cash expenditures or torture.


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