When it rains it pours in letters land.
As it turns out, my little experiment about sending the exact same gushy letter of praise to both Shape and Self simply could not have worked better. Here are the results:
It’s like a cosmic game of Telephone. I say something and then it appears two months later in completely different forms. If you recall, Self was the one that sent me several emails asking for confirmation and verification of information. They edited beyond recognition. Shape did not acknowledge the letter to editor at all (though they did send me an email about something else), yet they featured an intact letter with happy bold, orange (my favorite color) type.
I suppose the lesson to be learned here is that everyone, even magazines, wants love. And when they get it, they want to shout it from the rooftops.
No luck with the last Times Magazine letter. I’m not keeping score anymore. (She says with a huff.)
On the plus side, Self reeeeally wants to make sure they are accurate when they print fawning praise about themselves. I got ANOTHER follow-up email from them yesterday:
I am fact-checking information for the YOURSELF page for Self magazine’s July issue. Please confirm/correct in CAPS and return as soon as you can. Feel free to contact me with any questions.
1. You recently picked up Self while waiting at the dentist.
2. Every tip is on-target, inspiring, and best of all, doable.
3. You nearly swiped the magazine, but instead you took the subscription card.
4. You can’t wait for your first issue.
Is it necessary to double check that I was bored waiting for a dentist appointment? I hope the fact-checker is an intern, otherwise Conde Nast has a little too much fat on it’s bones.
To run with a theme a moment here … I bought Shape yesterday. In nearly every regard it is indistinguishable from Self. If I had to identify the niche of each, I’d say that the goal of Self is to get you thin and healthy, whereas Shape aims to get you thin, healthy, and HOT (slightly more emphasis on bikini readiness). The letters sections of the two magazines is identical. Switch the titles in the letters and there is no way to tell which you are reading. As an experiment, I decided to submit the exact same letter to Shape as I did to Self earlier this week (switching the names, of course.) Seems only fair.
In addition to running letters, Shape also gives readers another chance to get published in its “Readers Speak Out” section. Each month, the editors pose a question and ask readers to write in their tip. The question that ran in the May 2009 issue was, “The snack I always have on hand is …” The not-so-shocking answers: “Apples are inexpensive and always tide me over to the next meal.” “Dried apricots and raw almonds are the perfect pre-workout combo of protein and natural sugar.” OK, what American female over the age 10 hasn’t heard those four or five million times. I’m looking for something new, or at least entertaining, folks. How about, “I consume the contents of my change purse every afternoon. I get lots of trace minerals from the coins, but they pass out of my system completely undigested so there’s no calorie intake at all.”
The new question posed to readers is: “What do you do to slow the aging process?” The not-so-shocking response I sent them:
One word: sunscreen. I only buy facial moisturizers and foundations that have an SPF factor of at least 15, that way I make sure that I am always covered.
Earth-shattering, I know.
The May 2009 issue of Self features wonder boy Zac Efron’s on-and-off-screen flame, Vanessa (Anne) Hudgens on its cover. Just a coincidence? Or do you think their publicists are an item too?
I normally only buy Self in airports. I allow myself to feel virtuous for reading about exercise and nutrition, but because I’m stuck there in the airport with no possibility of a workout and only gummi bears and fast food for sustenance, there’s no danger that I might actually have to do something healthy. But I did buy Self in my most recent Borders binge last week because I was earnestly looking for some healthful living motivation. (Shocking, I know.) My hubby has recently gone through a rather radical lifestyle improvement in the health department. It’s getting progressively more difficult to blame him for my slothitude. Must. Get. Moving.
Self, like GQ, publishes plenty of letters in the magazine, but does not post those letters online. You’re going to have to trust me that a Letters Page formula is alive and well here. ALL the letters are heartfelt and inspirational: diet success stories, exercise motivation, lifestyle improvements. Rah, rah, rah. Here’s me sticking to the formula like white on rice. Wait, in the spirit of healthy living, make that brown on rice:
I recently picked up Self for the first time in ages while waiting at the dentist. I can’t get over how motivational it is. Every tip is on-target, inspirational, and best of all, do-able. Self is exactly what I need to jump start my fitness routine. I nearly swiped the entire issue, but instead I just took the subscription card. I can’t wait for my first issue to arrive in the mail.
So no, I did not really read while waiting, though this is another righteous place for reading health mags. Nor did I subscribe. But I did get some OK recipe ideas. Stuffed Tomato Bake sounds like a good dinner. Ah, if only it had more bread, more cheese, and less tomato.