“It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” —The Smiths
About Jane Friedman (quickly)
Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She's the co-founder of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. She has been interviewed and featured by NPR, PBS, CBS, The Washington Post, the National Press Club and many other outlets.
In addition to being a columnist with Publishers Weekly and a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com. In 2017, in partnership with The Authors Guild, she helped produce The Authors Guild Guide to E-Publishing and is currently presenting an educational series on The Digital Age author.
Jane has delivered keynotes and presentations on the digital era of authorship at the San Francisco Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, and Willamette Writers Conference, BookExpo America and Digital Book World. She's also served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.
Jane has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (March 2018).
What I Care About
I have a special interest in how the digital age is transforming writing careers, publishing, and storytelling. Rather than taking a dark view of how the Internet era has affected writers' livelihoods, I'm more interested in how revolutionary change can inspire new business models, and how authorship will ultimately evolve. I believe history is on the writers' side: they've been sustaining their careers in ever more innovative ways since the era of Gutenberg. Furthermore, I don't think that business and art are at odds—I see how they inform and push each other to flourish.
I sit at the intersection of several communities, which gives me a 360-degree view of the changes now shaping writing and publishing. People working inside the industry see me as as an expert in digital and self-publishing, while independent authors see me as a traditional publishing figure. The university and MFA community see me as very commercially minded, while the business people see me as literary and academic. I would have it no other way; I prefer to serve as a bridge.
Some of my most recent published writings in these areas include:
- "The Greatest Challenge Facing Literary Publishing." Boulevard, Spring 2016.
- "The Future Value of a Literary Publisher." Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century (Milkweed Editions, 2016). Reprinted in the Spring 2016 issue of Copper Nickel.
- "The Future of the Gatekeepers." The Little Magazine in Contemporary America (University of Chicago Press, 2015).
I've been blogging since 2008, and my current blog has been named a top site for writers by Writer's Digest and the Alliance of Independent Authors. In partnership with journalist Porter Anderson, I produce a biweekly email newsletter, The Hot Sheet, to help authors stay on top of industry trends and best publishing practices.
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.
How I make my living: an ethics statement
I earn my living as an entrepreneur and freelancer; my goal is to be truly independent of any obligation to an employer, business, or organization. I am not paid by any company or organization to recommend or promote their services, either on this blog, through social media, or any other public forum. Any sponsorships or advertising relationships, when they exist (which is extremely rare, as this site does not carry advertising), are stated upfront and transparently. If I write about a company I have consulted for, I disclose that when I write about them. My income is driven largely by my own writing and teaching, as well as consulting services for writers, and I consider my interests to be aligned with writers' interests.
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 400 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 and All Things Considered, The Washington Post, the National Press Club, The Authors Guild, Nieman Journalism Lab, Publishers Weekly, GalleyCat, and PBS.
My work has appeared in Publishers Weekly, Writer's Digest magazine, Copper Nickel, Boulevard, the AWP Notebook, VQR Online, Digital Book World, Publishing Perspectives, IBPA Independent Magazine, The Huffington Post, and many other print and online venues.
My essays have been published in anthologies 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.
I travel when I have the time; my most recent adventure was in Burma.
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, money and art, beginnings and endings.
Three things very important to me: compassion, service, and independence. I seek environments exhibiting these values, especially organizations with a strong why driving their activity. I also appreciate organizations (and people) that don't take themselves too seriously.
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 I Work With
I've consulted with or participated in initiatives with a wide range of publishers, nonprofits and businesses, including:
- Authors Guild
- Southern New Hampshire University
- National Endowment for the Arts
- Publishers Weekly
- Olive Software
- Tahoma Literary Review
- Alaska Quarterly Review
- United Bible Societies
- Time Traveler Tours & Tales
- Creative Work Fund
- Sprint Beyond the Book, a project sponsored by ASU and Intel
- Digital Book World / F+W Media
- Grub Street
- Glimmer Train
- Tantor Media
- 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
- Claire Cook
- J.T. Ellison
- 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
- The Write Life: 100 Best Websites for Writers (2015–2016)
- Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers (2013–2017)
- 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 Media Mentions
Related to the writing and publishing industry
- Featured on NPR: "Amazon Was Supposed to Have Crushed Bookstores. So Why Are Indie Bookshops Booming in D.C.?" (July 2017)
- Featured on CBS: "Bookstores Holding Their Own Against Digital Onslaught" (July 2017)
- Featured on NPR: "Can Serialized Fiction Convert Binge Watchers to Binge Readers?" (July 2016)
- Guest on The Writer Files (June 2016)
- Guest on the Smarty Pants Book Marketing Podcast (June 2016)
- Guest on The Kindle Chronicles, Episode 390 (January 2016)
- I was quoted as an expert in a Washington Post piece on Amazon "entrepreneurs" (October 2015)
- I was quoted as an expert in an Authors Guild book marketing piece by David W. Brown. (September 2015)
- I wrote an advice piece for the AWP for students pursuing an undergraduate degree in creative writing. (November 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)
- My blog was featured in Six Great Blogs for Indie Authors, Publishers Weekly (February 2014)
- 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).
In connection to my essay appearing in Every Father's Daughter
- UVA Today interviewed me about my relationship with my father, just in time for Father's Day 2015. (June 2015)
- WTJU (Charlottesville) featured a segment with me discussing my essay. (June 2015)
- I was featured in Cville Weekly, discussing my essay and the related book launch event at New Dominion Bookstore. (May 2015)
Related to the magazine I co-founded, Scratch
- Coverage in the New York Times (July 2014)
- Poets & Writers feature from the May/June 2014 issue
Publishers Weekly Columns
- Fast, Cheap, and Good: What Publishing Compromises Are You Making? (May 2017)
- Online Education as Book Marketing (Jan 2016)
- How Indie Authors Can Master Their Online Presence (Sept 2016)
- Making the Most of Email Marketing (May 2016)
- Five Marketing Models for Self-Publishing Success (Jan 2016)
- The Library Market: What Indie Authors Need to Know (Sept 2015)
- Not All Hybrid Publishers Are Created Equal (May 2015)
- Contributor to Author in Progress. Edited by Therese Walsh. Writer's Digest Books, 2016.
- Contributor to Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century. Edited by Kevin Prufer, Wayne Miller and Travis Kurowski. Milkweed Editions, 2016.
- Contributor to Every Father's Daughter. Edited by Margaret McMullan. McPherson & Co., 2015.
- Contributor to The Little Magazine in Contemporary America. Edited by Ian Morris and Joanne Diaz. University of Chicago Press, 2015.
- "Drinking as Genuine Vocation." Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up. Edited by Caren Osten Gerszberg and Leah Odze Epstein. Seal Press, 2012.
- "2016 Year in Review" Writer's Yearbook 2017.
- "The Future Value of a Literary Publisher." Copper Nickel. Issue 22 (Spring 2016)
- "2015 Year in Review." Writer's Yearbook 2016.
- "Be Your Own Boss." Writer's Digest. November/December 2015.
- "Author Website 101." Writer's Digest, February 2015.
- "2014 Year in Review." Writer's Yearbook 2015.
- "If You Seek a Full-Time Writing and Publishing Career." AWP Notebook, November 2014.
- "The Evolving Agent." Writer's Digest, October 2014.
- "The Top 10 Publishing Insiders (and Outsiders)." Writer's Digest, February 2014.
- I maintain an updated YouTube playlist with all my video-based interviews—a good place to look first
- WritersCast: David Wilk talks with Jane Friedman (November 2015)
- CCC's Beyond the Book podcast: on the topic of hybrid publishers (June 2015)
- The Art of Commerce interview with 0s&1s (June 2015)
- Understanding the Business of Authorship (April 2015), a 40-minute discussion at the Upgrade Your Story podcast
- My hour-long talk at IndieReCon: Content Marketing 101—How Authors Can Be Smart and Strategic With Their Most Important Asset (April 2015)
- Jason Allen Ashlock interviewed me about how the magazine publishing business has changed at Medium (February 2014).
"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