Let Don answer!
How do you choose your favorite stories?
If I finish a long–read article and immediately want to recommend it to a friend, you’ll find it featured in the newsletter. These stories brought me pleasure, made me laugh and think and, most of all, told me something I didn’t know. No “hot takes” here.
How do you come across so many different stories each week?
I rely on my Twitter feed (I follow around 1,000), the two dozen magazines I read, the #longreads hashtag and @longform and @longreads recommendations, though by the time those two aggregators make their weekly choices (Friday/Saturday), I’ve often already made my picks. Each week, I receive at least two dozen suggestions via DM, email or the #SundayLR hashtag. Some of those tipped stories end up on my list. Another useful crowd-sourcing tool is Nuzzel, which aggregates the top reads of my Twitter followers every day. Nuzzel makes sure I don’t miss something if I’m not on Twitter much.
Why do you do this?
In early 2014, I started this habit on a whim, tweeting out my favorite stories every Sunday morning. I was motivated by finding a more orderly way to meet my compulsion to share. One of my favorite things about Twitter is it can be a generous platform that helps you discover lyrical writers, gifted storytellers and fresh voices. If you follow the right crowd, Twitter becomes a kind of Pandora for great journalism. And so The Sunday Long Read began as a way to try to give back as much as I take. I was surprised and touched at how many people responded favorably to these regularly scheduled tweetstorms. Before long, many of those same people urged me to start a newsletter like this one, to make it easier on them (hopefully) and (perhaps) on me. But this newsletter wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Jacob Feldman.
OK. How did you meet Jacob Feldman?
In late 2014, I sent out a tweet asking if people would be interested if I started a weekly longform newsletter. Hundreds of people replied or favorited the tweet. One of the replies was from a Harvard senior named Jacob Feldman. He volunteered to help me get a newsletter off the ground because, he said, my tweeted stories had become “part of my journalism education.” I was touched, and got in touch immediately with him. And the first few SLRs, sent to a surprisingly large crowd of nearly 1,000 early subscribers, were produced by Jacob. He didn’t just design and produce the SLR, he was a curator with a keen eye who can write well. And so from the beginning, we’ve been equal partners on this project. Jacob is now a writer at Sports Illustrated. He’s a huge talent who works extremely hard and is smart and perceptive about a lot of things. Many of the best things about the SLR—including its beautiful design, one of the very best in the newsletter game—are Jacob Feldman’s creations. I’m so grateful to him, and feel lucky that he’s my friend.
Why do you have senior editors and guest editors?
Curation of longform journalism on a weekly basis is difficult and time-consuming—and we have demanding day jobs. By necessity, we needed to find a way to occasionally take a week off and hand over the SLR’s controls to a guest editor, who also brings new perspectives to the role. But we also both wanted the newsletter to be crowd-sourced by journalists (and a few folks outside of journalism) who we admire and trust. We now have more than 70 contributing editors—the list will keep growing—who all will take at least one turn guest-editing the SLR. The tradition of our guest editors writing opening essays happened almost by accident; it’s a tradition our readers have come to love. And Jack Shafer, Politico’s veteran media critic who chooses The Classic Read, has been with us from the beginning. His leap of faith and trust in us, when this newsletter was just an idea, is something I’ll always be grateful for. And we’ve added more senior editors who offer their weekly picks from the worlds of music, photography, documentary videos, magazine covers, podcasts, Twitter, etc. We couldn’t do this without them. We are so grateful that they contribute every week and help make the SLR special.
Who are your subscribers?
We have amassed a very cool, electric audience of writers, editors, authors, TV and Hollywood people and readers. They all value great storytelling delivered by a carefully curated newsletter that drops in their inboxes early every Sunday morning. One of the most gratifying things about this list is that writers – not just young ones but also some veterans— are proud when their work appears in The Sunday Long Read.
Why didn’t I receive a newsletter this week?
There’s a chance we took a week off, but the more likely reason is that our newsletter ended up in your spam folder. Please check there, and add “editors@SundayLongRead.com” to your contacts list to prevent this from happening again.
Why don’t you charge for this?
Excellent question! For now, Jacob and I have decided to pay the administrative costs to produce this newsletter in the hopes that it will help put our peers’ great work in front of as many people’s eyes as possible. However, as the newsletter keeps quickly adding subscribers, the costs of maintaining and mailing it have skyrocketed (not to mention website hosting fees and podcast costs, etc). And so…
How can I help?
By joining The Sunday Long Read Membership Program! You can become a monthly or annual member. Your support will help us maintain and mail the newsletter, help some of our young producers and—hopefully—help us pay freelancers for their original work. We’ll also depend on our members for ideas—we’ve already heard some excellent ones—that will make the SLR even better. And we’ll give our members a few extra goodies, like earlier delivery of the newsletter and some exclusive bonus content.
There’s another way you can help: Please send suggestions (including your own work!) by tweeting with the hashtag #SundayLR or emailing them to editors@SundayLongRead.com. If you have any critiques or suggestions – or even a kind word – we’re all ears: editors@SundayLongRead.com. And if you love what we do, please tell a friend!