Jane Friedman

“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 and editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential publishing industry newsletter for authors, and is the former publisher of Writer's Digest. She has been interviewed and featured by NPR, PBS, 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 (200,000 visits per month). She's delivered keynotes on the digital era of authorship at the San Francisco Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, and Willamette Writers Conference, among many others. She speaks regularly at industry events such as BookExpo America and Digital Book World, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund.

Her essays have been published in anthologies by the University of Chicago Press, Seal Press, Milkweed Editions, and McPherson & Co. She has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017).

What I Care About

I have a special interest in how the digital age is affecting and 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 a variety of 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 rather literary and academic. I would have it no other way; I prefer to serve as a bridge.

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.

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 WeeklyWriter's Digest magazine, Copper NickelBoulevard, 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:

To name just a few of the authors and creative professionals I've worked with or consulted with (alpha order):

Awards

  • The Write Life: 100 Best Websites for Writers (2015–2016)
  • Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers (2013–2015)
  • 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

  • I participated in a Reddit AMA on writing and publishing (November 2, 2012).

In connection to my essay appearing in Every Father's Daughter


Related to the magazine I co-founded, Scratch

Recent Print Publication Credits

Recent Interviews & Videos

  • Jason Allen Ashlock interviewed me about how the magazine publishing business has changed at Medium (February 2014).

Shh! Jane's Embarrassing College Poetry

"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