Best Business Advice for Writers: January 2013


Best Business Advice for Writers is a monthly link round-up where I share the best online articles focused on the business of writing and publishing. Share any best reads you’ve found lately in the comments.

The State of a Genre Title, 2013 by John Scalzi (@scalzi)

A very successful novelist dishes on the sales of his latest novel according to format. I always love graphs, and he offers an insightful one. He writes:

My sales profile here is nicely diversified, but it’s also clear that the largest chunk of my sales are in eBook. I attribute this primarily to two factors: One, my personal presence and history online, which presents me as an “online native,” with a core fanbase of similarly tech-savvy readers; Two, science fiction as a genre tends to have a tech-friendly readership, which is likely to have adopted electronic readers early. A third factor is that eBooks tend to priced more cheaply than hardcovers, which is not insignificant.

Read his entire analysis.

7 Splendid Articles on Using Goodreads as an Author by Iain Broome (@iainbroome)

A solid round-up, something to bookmark if you’re interested in using Goodreads for marketing and promotion.

Rethink Cover Design for a Small, Small World by Elle Lothlorien (@ElleLothlorien)

Scroll down to the header “The Siren’s Call” and start reading about the importance of a book cover that pops at small thumbnail size. Lothlorien is exactly right when she says:

Designing a kick-ass book cover for the Kindle Store is one of the most valuable marketing and discoverability opportunities your self-published book is likely to have.

When designing an e-book cover, you MUST assume that every potential reader will see it first as a thumbnail on Amazon’s suggestive selling ribbon and not as a full-sized graphic.

Click here to read her excellent advice, paired with cover examples.

5 Things I’ve Learned From Self-Publishing by James Calbreath (@eadingas)

Some tough love here from someone all too aware of the drawbacks and struggles of self-publishing. He doesn’t candy coat the experience.

Modern self-publishing means that you’re on the mercy of the freelancers. All good freelancers are busy—and very good freelancers are very busy. No matter how much you will pay them, they are likely to forget about your book if you don’t pester them continuously. Pestering people and institutions (that includes all sorts of Customer Support) was the first thing I had to learn.

Read the entire post here.

The 17 Best WordPress Plugins for Social Media, SEO, and Better Visitor Engagement in 2013 by Neal Schaffer (@nealschaffer)

If you have a self-hosted WordPress site, review this list and make sure you’re taking advantage of the many helpful tools and utilities available.

What I’d Like to See from Booksellers in 2013: A Holiday Wishlist by Edward W. Robertson

While not titled in such a way, this post offers a terrific overview of the strengths and weaknesses of online e-retailers (including Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and iBookstore). If you’re a self-publishing author, I highly recommend.

President of Dystel & Goderich Literary Management Jane Dystel: Agents Unwilling to Adapt Won’t Last, interview by Jeremy Greenfield (@JDGsaid)

As Greenfield says in the intro to this interview, “One of the hottest new places for agents to find clients and for publishers to find their next bestselling authors is the self-published bestseller list.” A long-established agent, Jane Dystel, discusses the landscape and what kind of deals she’s negotiating for her clients.

One Author’s Kickstarter Experience, an interview with David Lang (@davidtlang) by Joe Wikert (@jwikert)

This interview offers an interesting surprise when Lang says that Seth Godin “almost” got it right when advising people on how to use Kickstarter:

Done right, Kickstarter is not the last step [as Godin said]. It’s the beginning of something new—having a community to co-create with. It’s a huge opportunity. As Yancey Strickler told me, “What people often forget is that money gets spent, but a community can stick around forever.”

Some food for thought here if you’re interested in crowdsourcing; go read.

How to Monetize Your Blog Without Selling Your Soul by Michael Hyatt (@MichaelHyatt)

A very clear and concise post about making money from your website or blog, regardless of how much traffic you get—although traffic helps, of course!

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Jane Friedman
Jane Friedman has 20 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; more recently, she was an editor at the Virginia Quarterly Review, where she led digital strategy. Jane currently teaches writing and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. The Great Courses just released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. She also has a book forthcoming from the University of Chicago Press, The Business of Being a Writer (2017). Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.
Posted in Business for Writers.


  1. Another incredibly useful post that I’ll be sharing with my critique group; a couple of the links are particular pertinent to us at this time – thank you! (And, Happy New Year, one month late!)

  2. Pingback: Great Stuff on the Writers’ Blogs, February 2-4, 2013 « cochisewriters

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