“It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” —The Smiths
To the Point
Jane Friedman is the co-founder and publisher of Scratch, a magazine about the business side of the writing life, and the former publisher of Writer’s Digest. She has more than 15 years of experience inside the book, magazine, and literary publishing industries.
Jane specializes in educating writers about the publishing industry—from a measured and nuanced perspective (no drama or hype)—to help them make the best long-term decisions for their careers. Since 2001, she has spoken at hundreds of writing conferences around the world, and is known for thought-provoking talks on the future of authorship. She recently delivered keynotes at The Muse & The Marketplace, the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute, and PubSmart.
What I Care About
I have a special interest in how the digital age is affecting and transforming writing careers, publishing, and storytelling. I was involved in a 3-day collaborative experiment at the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair, sponsored by Arizona State and Intel, to write a book on the future of reading, writing, and authorship.
In 2011, after being asked so often to predict the future of publishing, I wrote a satire on futurist commentary (The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations), but most of my work is rather practical and sincere, and meant to educate writers on how to create sustainable, meaningful careers in the digital era.
My feature articles have appeared in Writer’s Digest magazine, the AWP Notebook, VQR Online, Digital Book World, Publishing Perspectives, IBPA Independent Magazine, The Huffington Post, Writer Unboxed, Scratch magazine, and many other print and online venues.
My essays have been published in collections by the University of Chicago Press, Seal Press, Milkweed Editions, and McPherson & Co.—as well as Writer’s Digest Books, Writer’s Market, Writer’s Market UK, and Australian Writer’s Marketplace.
The Résumé Details
I began my career at F+W Media in Cincinnati, where I ultimately oversaw the transition of a predominantly print-driven business to one centered on digital media. I was responsible for the business strategy and financial performance of a team of twenty, which covered editorial, advertising, online education, and e-commerce operations. During my tenure, I launched and managed the social media presence of Writer’s Digest, growing its Twitter fan base to over 150,000 followers and its Facebook fan base to over 25,000 followers. I started the Writer’s Digest blog There Are No Rules in 2008, which has been maintained as the primary staff blog since my departure. In my role as publisher, I also launched and artistically directed the Writer’s Digest Conference and Writer’s Digest webinar series, which still continue today.
My leadership and business results at F+W ultimately landed me a job as a tenure-track professor of e-media at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, which grants BFA degrees to students seeking full-time careers in the media. While at UC, I was recruited to work at the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia, to spearhead and manage digital publishing initiatives. I launched the first digital subscription to the journal (now comprising 25% of subscriptions), and led a major content migration and strategic relaunch for VQR Online. My audience development for the brand led to a 100% increase in website visits during issue release months.
Currently, I teach digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia, but the bulk of my time gets spent on writing, editing, speaking, and entrepreneurial projects.
The More Personal Take
I am a late-sleeping, bourbon-drinking editor, at least mostly sane. I live life forward, even though you can only understand it backward.
I don’t have hobbies, unless drinking is a hobby. I write, I read, I edit, I teach, I speak. Working and playing are the same activity for me.
I travel when I have the time.
I’m open to just about any adventure, and even a whole lot of situations (or conversations) that most people would consider boring.
I’m fascinated by the concepts of happiness, memory, loss, death, regret, settling, staying put, personal choice, homes, family, corporations, rituals, beginnings and endings.
The 3 things very important to me: compassion, service, and independence. I avoid environments (or people) lacking these qualities, especially organizations without a strong service component—a strong why—driving their work-play.
I am an unashamed Zen-inspired intellectual who tests INFP on the Myers-Briggs and Type 3 on the Enneagram. I care about joy and beauty, in a broad sense. I’m occasionally even fun to be around.
I have been called Miss Jane, Wonder Jane, Sweet Jane, Plain Jane, The Other Jane, Not-That Jane, and Smiling Jane.
I’ve also been called a pusher, a dream crusher, a hopeless idealist (or just plain naive, depending), a bad influence, an adventurer, a fierce independent, and the one who knows how to turn this thing around.
Recent Media Mentions
- I wrote an advice piece for the AWP for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in creative writing. (November 2014)
- My magazine about writing & money, Scratch, was covered in the New York Times (July 2014).
- Have Words, Will Travel: Freelancing — I was a returning guest on an episode of The Periodicalist (June 2014). In May 2014, I was a guest on the topic of ebook subscription services.
- I was a guest on CEA’s “The Intersection of Innovation and ____”, discussing disruption in magazine publishing (June 2014).
- What Every Literary Writer Needs to Know About Digital Disruption: a panel at The Muse & The Marketplace conference, livestreamed and recorded (May 2014)
- Poets & Writers featured Scratch, my new magazine for writers, in its May/June 2014 issue.
- Posted at Medium & Thought Catalog, Jason Allen Ashlock interviewed me about Scratch and how the magazine publishing business has changed in the last five years (February 2014).
- My blog was featured in Six Great Blogs for Indie Authors, Publishers Weekly (February 2014)
- The launch of Scratch magazine (October 2013) was written about by NPR, The New York Observer, Salon (twice), GigaOm, LA Times, Galleycat, Slate (in France!), Longform, The Billfold, The Toast, Hazlitt at Random House, and Publishing Perspectives.
- Publishing Perspectives covered this future of publishing project run by Intel & ASU; I was part of a 4-member team writing a book in 72 hours on the floor of the 2013 Frankfurt Book Fair
- I was interviewed on public-radio station WMRA, by Martha Woodroof at The Spark, about my digital media work at Writer’s Digest and VQR (March 1, 2013)
- I participated in a Reddit AMA on writing and publishing (November 2, 2012)
- Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers (2013–2014)
- ALLI‘s Top Website for Self-Publishing
- Top 10 Blogs for Writers 2011–2012 (Write to Done)
- 2008 Dorothy Hamilton Award, Midwest Writers Workshop
- 2004 Instructor of the Quarter, Beckfield College
- 1999, 2000 Xavier University Poetry Award
- 1997 University of Evansville Vision Award
Recent print publication credits
- Contributor to the forthcoming The Little Magazine in Contemporary America. Edited by Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz. University of Chicago Press, 2015.
- Contributor to the forthcoming Literary Publishing in the 21st Century. Edited by Kevin Prufer, Wayne Miller and Travis Kurowski. Milkweed Editions, 2015.
- “2014 Year in Review.” Writer’s Yearbook 2015.
- “The Evolving Agent.” Writer’s Digest, October 2014.
- “The Top 10 Publishing Insiders (and Outsiders).” Writer’s Digest, February 2014.
- “Drinking as Genuine Vocation.” Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up. Edited by Caren Osten Gerszberg and Leah Odze Epstein. Seal Press, 2012.
- “Nonfiction Book Proposals in the Digital Age.” 2013 Guide to Literary Agents. Edited by Chuck Sambuchino. Writer’s Digest Books, 2012.
- “Author Platform 2.0.” 2013 Writer’s Market. Edited by Robert Lee Brewer. Writer’s Digest Books, 2012.
- “Three Numbers for Showing the Power of a Platform.” IBPA Independent, May 2012.
- “The Basics of DIY E-Book Publishing.” Writer’s Digest, May/June 2012.
- “Jane Friedman Q&A.” 2012 Writer’s Market. Edited by Robert Lee Brewer. Writer’s Digest Books, 2011.
- “Book Proposals in the Digital Age.” Writer’s Digest, October 2011. PDF download version.
- “Revising Your Path to Publication.” Writer’s Digest, July/August 2011. Online version.
- “The Evolution of the Literary Agent.” Writer’s Digest, October 2010. Online version.
“This is my living faith, an active faith, a faith of verbs: to question, explore, experiment, experience, walk, run, dance, play, eat, love, learn, dare, taste, touch, smell, listen, argue, speak, write, read, draw, provoke, emote, scream, sin, repent, cry, kneel, pray, bow, rise, stand, look, laugh, cajole, create, confront, confound, walk back, walk forward, circle, hide, and seek. To seek: to embrace the questions, be wary of answers.” (Terry Tempest Williams)