Benjamin Percy

Avoid Opening With Dialogue

It’s a typical pet peeve of editors and agents: Stories that begin with dialogue. In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, author Benjamin Percy explains why a dialogue opening is so often ineffective: When a reader first picks up a story, they are like a coma patient—fluttering open their eyes in an unfamiliar world, wondering, where am […]

Leaving Feedburner for MailChimp

Why I Stopped Using Feedburner to Serve My Blog Subscribers

  Update: March 21, 2013 For two months, I used Feedblitz to deliver my posts via e-mail to blog subscribers, but then moved to MailChimp in mid-October 2012. Feedblitz performed exactly as advertised and is a good service. However, I already use MailChimp for other e-mail newsletters, and I find its UI (user interface) to […]

Rejection

Tips for Dealing With Rejection + Other Success Strategies

Earlier this week, I was the featured interviewee over at Andrea Hurst’s Authornomics series. I answer questions such as: What’s the most important thing a writer should focus on to grow their career? What are some tips for dealing with rejection? How can self-publishing authors be successful in an ever-changing environment? Click here to read […]

The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood

5 Remarkable Writing Prompt & Exercise Books

After working at Writer’s Digest for a decade-plus, I saw more than my fair share of writing exercise/prompt books—plus I also acquired and edited quite a few. Writing prompts have always been an ever-popular topic of discussion (and usefulness) for writers, regardless of stage of career. Here I’d like to share what I found to […]

Virginia Quarterly Review

A Little Bit About My Work at VQR

Yesterday, over at Neal Abbott’s blog, I answered a few questions about my new job at the Virginia Quarterly Review, what VQR does (plus when and what to submit if you want to be published there), and my latest favorite things related to social media. The last question Neal asked: 3 things that most people […]

Author Solutions and Pearson

Is the Author Solutions Acquisition a Good Thing for Authors?

Yesterday, news broke that Pearson (parent company of Penguin) had acquired Author Solutions for $116 million. Read the basics here. Just to make sure we’re all up to speed: Pearson is one of the Big Six publishers. Author Solutions (ASI) is the world’s leading provider of self-publishing services, primarily dealing in print-on-demand (POD) publishing and […]

KFUN radio

Notes From My On-Air Interview With Writer’s Block

Last week, I was a guest on KFUN radio, where I offered advice and insights for writers. Topics covered: First steps in creating an online presence Resources for e-publishing How to determine the best tools for marketing and promoting your books 3 tips on effective blogging Click here to read a full summary of the […]

Seeking Feedback From My E-mail Subscribers

This post is directed at anyone who reads this blog via e-mail subscription. (That means if you’re reading message this inside your e-mail account, I’m talking to you.) I am considering a new service to deliver my blog posts to your inbox. The end result may look quite different than it does now, but before […]

Electric Speed newsletter by Jane Friedman

3 Worthwhile Reading Tools (Plus 3 Sources for Great Reads)

Today I sent out the latest issue of my e-newsletter, which focuses on three tools for reading on digital platforms. I also share three of my favorite sources for “long reads,” including: Longreads Byliner Atavist Click here to view the newsletter, and click here to subscribe and never miss a future issue.

Double arrow sign

Should You Self-Host Your Blog or Website?

Update: I’ve written more advice on this topic at Self-Hosting Your Author Website: How and Why to Do It. Recently I was asked why authors should self-host their own blog or website. First, what does self-host mean? It means that you don’t use a free service to run your blog or website. The most popular free services […]

Danielle Lazarin

Why Write When Others Write So Much Better?

Every writer I know can identify with the following: I was only halfway through Stuart Dybek’s I Sailed with Magellan when I decided I should just give up on writing altogether; that the intimacy he achieves with childhood and adolescence was more than I could ever imagine accomplishing, and I wanted to leave it to […]

How Dads Influenced Some Famous Writers

My dad once told me I could do or be anything I wanted. Apparently that’s the same thing author Patricia Bosworth was told by her dad. Dads seem to enjoy sharing this advice with their daughters. In honor of Father’s Day, the folks at Open Road Media have produced a video where famous writers discuss […]

Video: Changes in Publishing & Self-Publishing

Some of you may have heard about the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi), a new organization supporting self-published authors. I’m one of the advisors, along with Mark Coker (Smashwords), Joanna Penn (Creative Penn), and Victoria Strauss (SFWA), among other well-known publishing professionals. I discuss reasons for moving to VQR, changes in publishing and self-publishing and […]

Writer's Digest & HOW Books team photo

Love Letter to Cincinnati (#4)

It will be hard to think back on Cincinnati without thinking about F+W, the whole reason I moved to the city in the first place. It was a promising and lucky career start, even though I wanted to leave the company— and city—initially. I had dreams of joining Peace Corps or teaching English in Korea. […]

Kitty Cornered by Bob Tarte

How One Introverted Author Successfully Markets His Work

The following Q&A is with author Bob Tarte. Bob lives in Michigan with parrots, ducks, geese, parakeets, rabbits, doves, cats, hens, and one turkey. I met Bob at a Florida writers conference, where he was speaking about the success of his pet podcast. He has published three books with Algonquin; the latest, Kitty Cornered: How Frannie and Five […]

Silas Dent Zobal

Fiction Is About What We Can’t Say

If you write fiction, then you don’t want to miss the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, which features three wonderful essays focusing on craft. One of the essays, by Silas Dent Sobal, is a powerful meditation on both how things die and how one writes fiction. Here’s how it starts: I have a sense that what […]

Facebook strategy

Facebook Strategy for Authors: In-Depth Discussion

If you’re like most authors I know, you’ve wondered about how to best use Facebook. Should you stick to your personal page, should you create a fan page, how do you promote a fan page, and what exactly does a marketing strategy look like on Facebook? I’ve written several posts addressing the basics, as well […]

Love Letter to Cincinnati (#3)

Note: Read the earlier installments in this series, #1 and #2. My favorite places in Cincinnati are mostly tied to ritual. But I didn’t even believe in ritual until recently, around the time I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. She writes: This is what rituals are for. We do spiritual ceremonies as human […]

Writer Unboxed

Do You Adopt a Totally Different Voice to Market Yourself?

Today I’m a guest over at Writer Unboxed, where I discuss how finding your unique writing voice is not so different from finding your marketing voice. What Authors Seem to Forget About Marketing—Especially Those Who Dislike It Here’s a brief snippet: I think we can all agree that every author has a distinct writing voice […]

Megaphone

Please Do Not Pay Money for an Online Ad Until You Read This

Articles about the ineffectiveness of online advertising are a dime a dozen. (See this one and this other one, from just this past WEEK!) I rarely advocate authors spend money on advertising, in part because it takes a specialized skill set to do it well. Plus you have to know how to reach your target […]

Email symbol

Yes, E-mail Still Works for Book Marketing

After last Friday’s post, 4 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Book Marketing Efforts, I received a few responses questioning the effectiveness of e-mail. Or, in other words, isn’t e-mail dead? Who reads e-mail any more? Regardless of what the biased Mark Zuckerberg says, e-mail is alive and well. (Here’s a bit of research that compares […]

Jane in Cincinnati (Mt. Adams neighborhood), 1999

Love Letter to Cincinnati (#2)

Note: Read the first installment in this series. After I graduated college, I packed up my 1985 Ford Thunderbird with all my belongings and drove to Cincinnati to start my job with F+W Publications. I didn’t know anyone in the city except my boss, Greg. He served as my only anchor for many months, so much so […]

Super Mario Mushrooms

4 Ways to Immediately Improve Your Book Marketing Efforts

When I see bad book marketing out in the wild, I wish I could do something productive to help that author (or sometimes publisher!) see how they’re wasting their time. What is bad book marketing? It’s whenever I receive: A tweet from a total stranger asking me to look at their book An e-mail from […]

E-publishing

The Best E-Publishing Resources

Here’s a list of what I consider to be the most trusted resources on e-books and e-publishing. If you think I’ve missed a critical resource, please let me know in the comments. Last updated: October 2015. The Independent Publishing Magazine by Mick Rooney. Invaluable reviews of just about every publishing service out there. Digital Book […]

Paradigm shift

Distinguishing Between Straight-Up Advice and Paradigm Shift

A couple weeks ago I wrote a column for Writer Unboxed, “Should You Focus on Your Writing or Platform?” In short, I said it’s a balancing act, but there are times when you should probably emphasize one over the other. It generated more than 100 responses, many insightful and valuable, from working writers, established authors, […]

Superdog by Laura Diehl

It’s OK to Leave Stuff Out. In Fact, It’s Better

When I was in 5th grade, my mom spent hours working on a middle-grade novel. These were the days before word processing, so she used an old Smith Corona electric typewriter. It became a fixture on the dining room table. Eager to follow in her footsteps, I conceived my own novel. I bought a spiral-bound […]

Kevin Pogo Curtis

Love Letter to Cincinnati (#1)

I’ve visited New York City more times than I care to remember—always for work. Sometimes I enjoy it, sometimes not. But I always know for sure: I’m not part of those who live and work in that city. Living in Cincinnati these past 14 years means I’m invisible in most publishing industry circles—not so unlike […]

Jane Friedman at 2012 National Magazine Awards

Does Quality Always Win?

I had the very good fortune of attending this year’s National Magazine Awards in New York City. Even though I’m not yet officially on staff of the Virginia Quarterly Review, I was able to tag along and see if any of the three nominations would turn into wins. (Sadly, not this year.) The final award […]

The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg

2 Questions You Should Memorize for Networking Events

Right now I’m teaching a senior capstone course that prepares e-media seniors to graduate and enter the workforce. There are two required texts: The Education of Millionaires by Michael Ellsberg and Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields. Why these two books? The Ellsberg book focuses on all the practical stuff you don’t get taught in school (at […]

Daniel Torday

Obsessing Over Your Manuscript’s Size

There are few things more obsessed over by writers than word count: required word count, in-progress word count, goal word count per day/week/month, words that were cut, words in the final version. So I love Daniel Torday’s essay in the newest Glimmer Train bulletin, “The Secret Lives of Novellas.” It begins like this: The Great […]

Electric Speed: Best tools & resources for writers in the digital age

3 Resources to Help You With Tech

Last week, I asked for your insight regarding: What Makes You Anxious or Fearful About Tech? There are 85 comments and more coming in each day! I also received some wonderful private responses via e-mail. While we’re far from “getting to the bottom” of the issue, we’re exploring it in a meaningful way, and I […]

Digital Native / Flickr

How Do You Balance Writing With Platform Building?

I’m often asked, “How much time should I spend on writing and how much on building my platform?” It’s a difficult question to answer. After a very long preface, I attempt to offer guidelines over at my column on Writer Unboxed. Should You Focus on Writing or Your Platform? I hope you’ll take a look, […]

Twilight Zone creature on plane

What Makes You Anxious & Fearful About Tech?

Today I’m looking for your insight on a phenomenon I see a lot with people over a certain age: fearfulness and anxiety around tech. Those of you who’ve followed my posts for a while know how much I promote the use of new media in a writing career. I think it can make it more […]

Flickr / tq2cute

3 Horrible Mistruths About Social Media That Drive Me Insane

This post really needs no introduction. Let’s just get to the rant, in my favored numbered list format. “Who cares what you had for lunch?” Your excuse for hating social media is that people talk about what they’re eating? You know what the problem is? You have boring friends with no personality. Find someone worthwhile to […]

Delacroix, Faust Trying to Seduce Margarete (detail)

Perfecting Your First Page: 3 Tasks or Exercises

Over the weekend, I was a speaker at the Missouri Writers Guild conference (a terrific group of people and an impeccably run event). One of my sessions focused on evaluating the first page of your novel or memoir manuscript. Here are 3 of the best exercises or tasks you might undertake when thinking about your […]

Flickr / Giovanni Orlando

Is Your Work Commercially Viable?

Writers often ask, “How do I get published?” But I don’t like to answer that question until I know what exactly they’re trying to publish. I’d say at least 50% of new writers are attempting to publish a work that would be deemed commercially unviable by a Big Six house, at least as initially conceived. […]

Brian Hathcock / Flickr

Writing & Publishing Terminology 101

Today I’m revisiting a few of the basics of getting published. (There are always people new to the writing and publishing community who need the info!) If you like this post, definitely check out Start Here: How to Get Your Book Published. What are submission guidelines? Also called writers guidelines, submission guidelines are instructions from […]

Writer's Digest May/June 2011

The Basics of DIY E-Book Publishing

In the latest issue of Writer’s Digest to hit the newsstands (May/June 2012), you’ll find my feature article on “The Basics of DIY E-Book Publishing.” Here’s a brief excerpt where I discuss what you need to consider before you e-publish: Even though e-books are skyrocketing in adoption, ask these questions before you begin: • Do your […]

Vintage lady reading

The Future of Reading: The Syllabus

I recently received the following request from a friend & former classmate: Can you suggest a few key / huge / current books on the evolution of e-books and e-media, especially in the face of print culture? Theory, numbers, personal essays, experiences? How print and electronic texts augment each other or not? What a great […]

Electric Speed Newsletter

Groundbreaking Tools for Creating E-Books

In my latest e-newsletter over the weekend, I shared three new tools for creating e-books. If you missed it, then you can view the newsletter here. Click here to sign up and receive future sends—or view the archives first. Each newsletter focuses on new tools and resources for writers. (Your address is never spammed or sold.)

3 Best Sites to Stretch Thinking

3 Websites to Stretch Your Thinking

I’ve always believed in sharing the resources I use to stay current and fresh in my thinking about writing and publishing—no matter how advanced or niche those sources are. With that in mind, I recommend the following 3 sites. Lean Back 2.0. This is a fairly new blog by The Economist. If you’re not familiar […]

VQR logo

My New Job at the Virginia Quarterly Review

It’s hard to a remember a happier day than when I was offered a position at the University of Cincinnati as an assistant professor. I was looking forward to many years (decades, I thought) focused on teaching. After two years at UC, I can say the job is everything I had hoped for—and more. I […]

Facebook grunge logo

5 Principles for Using Facebook

It’s difficult to give advice about Facebook because it keeps changing—in structure, functionality, and effectiveness. For instance, I used to think accepting all friend requests for my personal profile was a workable policy, as long as I kept everyone organized in lists. But now that Facebook has a subscribe-to-profile feature, it doesn’t make sense to friend […]

Brad Beauregard

Writers Should Struggle Against Style

I often hear writers say they’re struggling to find their voice or their style. So it was unexpected to read this piece from Brad Beauregard about avoiding the adoption of a style. Here’s a brief excerpt: Sometimes writers talk about style as something you can pick up when you buy groceries, something you might stumble […]

The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations

The Future of Publishing: 14 Variations (Now Free!)

Last year, on April 1, I released an e-book, The Future of Publishing: Enigma Variations. It was mostly an April Fool’s Joke—a joke that cost you $1.99. (Read a full description here, plus reviews.) In this 39-page PDF, I offer 14 possible scenarios for the future of publishing … exaggerated scenarios. But in the final variation, […]

The Nervous Breakdown

My Latest Thoughts on Literary + Tech

  In the past couple weeks, I’ve been interviewed as part of a couple pieces from others in the literary community: Chicago Publishes Podcast: These folks caught me at AWP 2012 after my panel on The Tech-Empowered Writer. Other interviewees include Dennis Johnson, Jotham Burello, and Michael Downe. [Unfortunately, their website has folded, and the podcast […]

Paper.li Jane Friedman interview

My Views on Publishing Today

I was flattered when Paper.li reached out to me for a Q&A as part of their community interview series. They’ve titled the interview How to Get Published, and it covers a wide range of trends related to publishing, authorship, and technology. A few highlights are below; click here to read the full interview. My thanks […]

Jane Langton, Open Road Media

Bestselling Women Authors Discuss Women Writing

Here’s a lovely way to start your Sunday. With a nod to Women’s History Month, Open Road Media has created a 2-minute video featuring bestselling female mystery writers Ruth Rendell, Susan Isaacs, Jane Langton, Mary Burton and more, sharing their thoughts on women and writing. A couple great quotes from the video: “Being as old […]

Writer Unboxed

One of the Ground Rules of Marketing

You have to target a market. You can’t shoot for everyone. That’s the topic of my latest post over at Writer Unboxed: The Marketing Paradox: Start Small to Get Big Also check out the comments for a few points on how to research your target market and what communication strategies might be most effective in […]

Avery Monsen & Jory John

What Is an Author’s Marketing Responsibility With a Traditional Publisher?

It is a pleasure to share this interview with two authors who are also marketing geniuses, Avery Monsen (@averymonsen) and Jory John (@joryjohn). A couple years ago they authored a brilliant illustrated book with Chronicle, All My Friends Are Dead, which became an online sensation and breakout bestseller with more than 100,000 copies sold. This year, […]