Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing: Creating Newsletters,
Bulletins, Discussion Groups and Other Powerful Communication Tools

Reviewed by: Paul Schneider, PhD, send e-mail
Published by: Top Floor Publishing, go to the web site
Requires: N/A
MSRP: $29.95

When I first heard about this book I thought the idea was cool. But could one write an entire book about e-mail publishing? I mean e-mail publishing is not rocket science, is it? Well after I side-stepped my initial reaction I realized that, rocket science or not, I was at a loss to explain just how to produce a successful e-mail publication. Fortunately, this is not a problem for the author of Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing, Chris Pirillo. He deftly provides you with easy to understand steps towards the development of a successful e-publication. Most important though, he forces you to stop, think and ask questions at each step of the process.

Mr. Pirillo, or Chris as many people call him, is also the author of a popular and, if I don't say so myself, very useful newsletter, LockerGnome. Using his degree in English, tremendous success in the e-mail publishing world, and a good dose of Midwestern humor he thoughtfully walks the reader through each of the steps that need to be taken when developing an e-mail publication. The book can be subdivided into three sections, How to, Publishers' Stories, and the Appendices.

In the first section Chris introduces himself. Some books take a straight forward more formal instructional approach, while others take on a personality, either dictated by the publisher (e.g., Dummies series) or that of the individual author. This book follows the later. Fortunately for the reader Chris' personality is such that it doesn't take long before you actually want to meet the guy. Publishing an e-mail newsletter seems simple at first (as my own initial reaction indicated) but doing it right isn't. Chris aids you by pointing out many of the potential pitfalls that await. In truth there are very few clear and fast rules in this realm. Instead of always adhering to singular method, the author wisely acknowledges this pointing out the questions you should be asking. Probably the one aspect that impressed me most was the attention to the customer and netiquette. This is not a "how to get rich quick" book on e-mail publishing. The text continually reminds you about the importance of your reader and your responsibilities. In other words it's a "how to create a successful publication with a loyal and happy audience" book.

The second section is a collection of short pieces by various successful e-mail publishers. Each of the publishers attempts to point out where they went right (or wrong) and give you the information you need to get your publication moving in the right direction. Perhaps the most comforting aspect of this section was that with the knowledge gained in the first, it wasn't hard to predict why something went right or wrong for each of these publishers.

The last section is a collection of various indices that are designed to provide you with all the resources you need to get moving in the right direction. Perhaps one of the nicest aspects of this section is the short commentary Chris provides about the suggested resources. It is refreshing to seem something more than just a list of resources. It almost gives you a feeling as if Chris were looking over your shoulder offering words of wisdom as you read through the resources.

This is not a conventional how-to or e-mail publishing in 7 days book. E-mail publishing is a less definable entity. The abstractness of this is mirrored by my initial question as well as by the titles of some of the sections:"Getting Comfy," "Powerful Stuff," Who am I," and "Out to Lunch." Overall, Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing covers pretty much everything you need to know from e-mail primers to promoting your publication, and much more. In each area an attentive presentation is provided on both the concrete and abstract aspects of the topic at hand. If you want to make a quick buck or have a penchant for migraines, ignore this review, but if you want to develop an e-mail publication complete with a loyal audience, check out Poor Richard's E-mail Publishing.

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