“It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” —The Smiths
About Jane Friedman (quickly)
Jane Friedman has more than 15 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer’s Digest, where she ultimately became publisher and editorial director of the $10-million multimedia brand. Most recently, she served as the digital editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she led a strategic overhaul of its website and launched digital subscriptions.
Jane specializes in educating authors about the publishing industry (without drama or hype) to help them make the best long-term decisions for their careers. She is known for thought-provoking talks on the future of authorship, and recently delivered keynotes at The Muse & The Marketplace, the University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute, and PubSmart.
She currently teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia and is working on a Great Courses lecture series on writing for publication.
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 book Publishing 101 offers a compilation of my best insights for first-time authors.
While I teach every semester at the University of Virginia, the bulk of my time gets spent on writing, editing, speaking, and entrepreneurial projects.
The Résumé Detail
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 (comprising 25% of subscriptions by the time I left), 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.
Since 2001, I’ve spoken at more than 300 events around the world, and have been invited to speak at international gatherings such as South by Southwest, BookExpo America, Digital Book World, Frankfurt Book Fair, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
As someone with more than a decade of hands-on experience in using new media and technology to grow readership and revenue, my expertise has been featured by sources such as NPR’s Morning Edition, Nieman Journalism Lab, Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, and PBS. I’ve been an active blogger for more than a decade, and my site (JaneFriedman.com) has been named a top site for writers by Writer’s Digest and the Alliance of Independent Authors. It enjoys more than 100,000 visits every month.
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 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.
Who’s Worked With Me or Featured Me
I’ve consulted with or participated in initiatives with a wide range of publishers, nonprofits and businesses, including:
- National Endowment for the Arts
- Time Traveler Tours & Tales
- Creative Work Fund
- Sprint Beyond the Book, a project sponsored by ASU and Intel
- Digital Book World
- Grub Street
- Glimmer Train
- Tantor Media
- Catacoustic Consort
- Seven Hills Sinfonietta
- Midwest Writers Workshop
- Mad Anthony Writers Workshop
- Alliance of Independent Authors
- Writer Unboxed
To name just a few of the authors and creative professionals I’ve worked with or consulted with (alpha order):
- Porter Anderson
- William Baer
- James Scott Bell
- Dan Blank
- Hallie Ephron
- Jerry B. Jenkins
- Christina Katz
- Brad King
- Michael Larsen
- Donald Maass
- Dave Malone
- Margaret McMullan
- Sean Murphy
- Richard Nash
- Joe Stirt
- John Warner
- Martha Woodroof
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).
- 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)
- The Write Life: 100 Best Websites for Writers (2015)
- 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.
- “Author Website 101″ Writer’s Digest, February 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)