“It takes guts to be gentle and kind.” —The Smiths

About Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman has 25 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the co-founder and editor of The Hot Sheet, a paid newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for Writer’s Digest and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2023, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.

Jane’s latest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), which received a starred review from Library Journal. Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” In collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.

In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses, Jane’s expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and many other outlets. She offers a free newsletter, Electric Speed, published since 2009, that has more than 25,000 subscribers. Her paid newsletter, The Hot Sheet, has more than 2,200 subscribers.

Since 2001, Jane has delivered keynote talks across the globe, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, and Digital Book World.

She’s also served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and is currently a board member at The Facing Project. And for a while she even flirted with academia, holding positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.

In her spare time, Jane writes creative nonfiction, which has been included in the anthologies Every Father’s Daughter and Drinking Diaries. If you look hard enough, you can also find her embarrassing college poetry.

Great Courses
The Business of Being a Writer

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 must be at odds—I believe they can 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 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:

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.

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, 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, and I consider my interests to be aligned with writers’ interests.

VQR Spring 2013

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 brand that generated $10 million in revenue each year, overseeing 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. 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 hundreds of events around the world, and have been invited to speak at 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 two decades 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 National Press Club, The Authors Guild, Nieman Journalism Lab, Publishers Weekly, and PBS.

My work has appeared in Publishers WeeklyWriter’s Digest magazine, Copper NickelBoulevard, the AWP Notebook, VQR Online, 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.

Publishing 101
Every Father's Daughter
The Little Magazine in Contemporary America
Drinking Diaries

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’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.

I value 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 test INXP on the Myers-Briggs and Type 3 on the Enneagram, which is fun to think about, but if you’re looking for a shortcut to understanding how I operate in the world, then just listen to a few Alan Watts lectures.

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.

I was born and raised in rural Indiana; I now live in Cincinnati, Ohio.

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):


  • 2023 Publishing Commentator of the Year, Digital Book World
  • Writer’s Digest’s 10 Best Publishing News and Resource Websites 2021
  • 2020 Media Outlet of the Year, Digital Book World
  • 2019 Publishing Commentator of the Year, Digital Book World
  • Virginia Writers Club Lifetime Achievement Award
  • The Write Life: 100 Best Websites for Writers
  • Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers
  • ALLI‘s Top Website for Self-Publishing
  • Dorothy Hamilton Award, Midwest Writers Workshop
  • Instructor of the Quarter, Beckfield College
  • Xavier University Poetry Award
  • University of Evansville Vision Award

Recent Media Mentions

Related to the writing and publishing industry

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

Related to the magazine I co-founded, Scratch

Publishers Weekly Columns

Misc Contributions

Some of my favorite older interviews

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