“It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” —The Smiths
In About 200 Words
Jane Friedman has spent more than 15 years in the media industry as an editor, publisher, and professor. Currently she serves as the web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), based at the University of Virginia, where she also teaches digital publishing and online writing. Her newest digital media initiative is Scratch magazine, a quarterly publication for writers, all about the intersection of writing and money.
Before joining VQR, Jane was the publisher of Writer’s Digest, a $10-million multimedia brand where she was responsible for the business strategy and financial performance of a team of twenty, which covered editorial, design, advertising, and online media operations. She also worked personally with many authors and oversaw the publication of hundreds of books.
Her expertise on the transformation of the publishing industry has been featured throughout many events and media, including NPR’s Morning Edition, Frankfurt Book Fair, Publishers Weekly, SXSW, Nieman Journalism Lab, and AWP. Since 2001, she has spoken at hundreds of writing and industry conferences, and has also served on panels and advisory boards for nonprofits such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund.
Jane occasionally consults with authors, businesses, and nonprofits. Contact her if interested and describe what kind of help you’re looking for.
The Serious Career Side
I have in-depth knowledge of both the editorial and business sides of book and magazine publishing, as well as online media. I spent more than a decade at F+W Media in Cincinnati, where I ultimately became the publisher and community leader of Writer’s Digest. Many of the initiatives I launched during my tenure still continue today, including the annual Writer’s Digest Conference and the Writer’s Digest webinar series. My digital media leadership and business results at F+W ultimately landed me a job as a full-time professor of e-media at the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, which grants BFA degrees to students who seek full-time careers in the media.
I have a special interest in how the digital age is affecting and transforming writers, publishing, and storytelling, and frequently speak about the evolution of the industry. 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 publishing, and I’ve also presented at LitFlow Berlin, SXSW, BookExpo America, and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP), as well as at MFA programs and dozens of writers conferences across the country.
I’ve been blogging since the early 2000s, and started a professional blog for an audience of writers in 2008 while at Writer’s Digest. My blog has received numerous awards, including the 2013 Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites Award, ALLI‘s Top Website for Self-Publishers Award, and Top 10 Blogs for Writers in 2011-2012. It receives more than 50,000 unique visitors every month. I experiment and engage with writers and industry professionals across a range of social media platforms, especially Twitter (@JaneFriedman).
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, such as the Beginning Writer’s Answer Book (Writer’s Digest, 2006). My articles and creative work have appeared in Writer’s Market, Writer’s Digest, the anthology Drinking Diaries (Seal Press, 2012), 3 A.M. Magazine, The Formalist, The Evansville Review, UE Magazine, plus dozens of other publications and websites.
I have a BFA in creative writing from the University of Evansville (Ind.) and a MA in English from Xavier University.
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.
I travel when I have the time.
When I meet someone new, I’m eager to uncover what they’re passionate about, and how their life reflects it.
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, vision, and freedom.
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.
If You’re Still Reading: The Life Story
I grew up in Oakland City, Ind., a small farm town where every year they still crown Little Miss Sweet Corn. My Indiana-born mother was trained as an artist; my Russian Jewish father was a typesetter at Empire Typography in New York City and a professional calligrapher.
I left home at age 15 to attend the Indiana Academy, a residential high school on Ball State University campus. I went to college at the University of Evansville (Ind.), earning a BFA in Creative Writing. While there, I served as editor in chief of the college newspaper as well as the Evansville Review, an award-winning literary journal. I also spent a year studying in England at Harlaxton College and Cambridge University—where I also worked on the newspaper.
After graduation, I joined F+W Media as an associate editor at North Light Books. While at North Light, I also completed my MA in English at Xavier University, which involved a two-year stint as graduate director of the university writing center. My master’s studies focused on composition/rhetoric and postmodern literature.
In 2001, I joined Writer’s Digest magazine as managing editor; in 2003, I transitioned to Writer’s Digest Books as its lead editor and later managed several other imprints, such as HOW Books (design/humor), TOW Books (humor), and Betterway Books (sports).
In 2008, the corporate parent of Writer’s Digest (F+W Media) decided to restructure the company into special-interest communities, a progressive and forward-thinking move that was covered by trade industry magazine Publishers Weekly. I was made publisher and strategic leader of all content and community for the brand.
In 2010, in order to focus more on my passion for teaching and speaking, I left F+W for the University of Cincinnati (E-Media Division, College-Conservatory of Music). In June 2012, I relocated to Charlottesville, Virginia, to accept the position of web editor for the Virginia Quarterly Review; I continue teaching digital media and writing at the University of Virginia.
- 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
- 101 Best Websites for Writers, Writer’s Digest (May/June 2013)
- 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 contributed to Nieman Journalism Lab’s 2013 predictions in journalism (December 2012)
- Reddit AMA on writing and publishing (November 2, 2012)
- Page-Turner (New Yorker book news blog) mentions my VQR interview with Eli Horowitz on The Silent History
- Selected as one of LitFlow’s think-tank members in 2012; presented on The Future of the Author-Publisher Relationship. Also interviewed on LITradio about empowering the author.
- NPR’s Morning Edition featured my analysis in a report about the liquidation of Borders (July 19, 2011)
- An article at The Nervous Breakdown quotes me on the intersection of the literary community and the online world (March 21, 2012)
- A personal interview on KUAR (Arkansas public radio) aired before I keynoted the 2011 Arkansas Writers Conference. Interview starts at 17:10.
- I made the Publishers Weekly list of “Who’s Got Pull in the Publishing Twitterverse” (May 2010)
- Live interview on Gamechanging (2010) — a radio interview where I discuss adapting to current market trends and the future of publishing/media.
- Mr. Media Interview (2009). A 45-minute chat with Mr. Media on how the publishing landscape is changing.
- Profile at Digital Book World, where I serve on the advisory board.
- Self-Publishing, Author Services Open Floodgates for Writers (2010). This is a PBS story on the growth of self-publishing. I’m quoted as an industry expert.
- Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers (2013)
- 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
Selected print publication credits
- “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.
- Ask the Agent (column). Writer’s Digest, January 2011–December 2011.
- Write Your Novel in 30 Days (Writer’s Digest, 2010). Executive editor of special-issue magazine.
- “The Evolution of the Literary Agent.” Writer’s Digest, October 2010. Online version.
- “Your Novel: An Essential Tick List.” Writer’s Market UK 2008 (David & Charles)
- “International Dimension: A Fulfilled Prophecy.” UE Magazine 99.3 (2004): 4-5.
- Interview with Lisel Mueller, Poet’s Market (2004)
- Interview with Jeffrey Eugenides, Writer’s Digest (April 2003)
- Interview with Alice Sebold, Writer’s Digest (January 2002)
- Interview with Richard Russo, Writer’s Digest (February 2003)
- “Moralities and Indelibilities.” The Evansville Review 13.1 (2003): 122-125.
- “Passionate Persistence: English Majors at Work.” UE Magazine 98.1 (2002): 6-9.
- Interview with Elizabeth Spires. The Evansville Review 7.1 (1997): 45-53.
- “Insider’s Report: Ploughshares.” 1997 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market
- “Books.” The Formalist 13.1 (2002): 52.
- “Lying in Bed.” The Formalist 10.1 (1999): 40.
- “Letter From an Erstwhile Boyfriend.” The Formalist 9.2 (1998): 87.
- “Front Oval.” The Formalist 9.1 (1998): 55.
“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)