The Sunday Letter, 25 November 2018

The REAL one

It’s Sunday but for all of our subscribers, they got their usual Sunday mail from us on Tuesday. It sparked a few comments like ‘what’s with this coming out on Tuesday?’. And a few others giving us a heads-up and some comments about why they love it.

You may also have noticed that we didn’t send additional emails with apologies. We didn’t run around in a flurry.

We did tweet this…

… but that’s all.

The lack of follow up was intentional.

Have you noticed that people always send apologies after they screw something up?

We could have sent an email with OOPS in the subject-line. We could have issued another newsletter immediately, explaining that in a different browser the publishing UX from Substack excluded the scheduling options (pro-tip, if you use Substack, avoid Brave or turn all of its shields).

But we didn’t.

We didn’t apologise, because apologies make you look even more incompetent.

When it comes to publishing - in all kinds of publishing - sometimes shit happens. You hit the wrong button by mistake. You have a spelling error you caught only after something was sent. You have a chapter in a book with (accidentally) different running headers different, and had 20,000 copies printed. You have a photo that looks weird. Or your headline wasn’t the right one.

Whatever it is, shit happens. It happens to the very best in the business. And it happens to the very newest.

When it does happen (because it will, eventually) you have to decide: What action is better for (a) our reputation, and (b) our time.

In my long experience of sending EDMs, I’ve found that sending apologies doesn’t make you look like you ‘fixed it’. It just makes you look rushed and unsure of yourself. You are better off owning the mistake. Yeah, we sent a Tuesday Letter this week. But it’s no big deal: Nobody’s going to die. It made some people smile. It got us some outstanding feedback.

And I got the opportunity to write a lesson in publishing smarts to you.

In this way, one little error has become a really positive, beneficial thing to have done.

Your key takeaway from this

Is two-fold:

  1. Shit happens. It always will. So prepare for it and expect it.

  2. Having a procedure to address it when the proverbial muck his the fan helps you and your team.

ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW is to document what your procedure should be when you make an error. Giving your team a known process to follow when they screw up is helpful for everyone. It stops them re-sending things with ‘oops’ in the subject. And it stops you from having a go at them for being human.

This is the kind of feel-good risk mitigation you can bash out in an email and move on, knowing you’ve got your bases covered.

Remember that if you have a paid subscription, you have access to our Office Hours program for free guidance and conversations about how to do this - whenever you like. So don’t hesitate to jump in and book yours here.

Have a splendid week this week!

~ Leticia Mooney, Queen Pixie at Brutal Pixie