Commodity Publishing and The Future of Fiction

Commodity Publishing, Self-Publishing, and The Future of Fiction

Many years ago, when I started working for Writer’s Digest, I was put on the self-publishing beat. I started by reading Dan Poynter’s guide, by the godfather of self-publishing, then the Marilyn Ross guide. I attended EPIC, once the leading conference for e-book authors, and sat on a panel with Piers Anthony to discuss the […]

Knocking on doors of traditional publishers

How Long Should You Keep Trying to Get Published?

Don’t you wish someone could tell you how close you are to getting traditionally published? Don’t you wish someone could say, “If you just keep at it for three more years, you’re certain to make it!” Or, even if it would be heartbreaking, wouldn’t it be nice to be told that you’re wasting your time, so that you can move on, try another tack (like self-publishing), or perhaps even change course entirely to produce some other creative work?

Tumblr

Find Me on Tumblr

If you’re a Tumblr user, just a quick announcement you can now find me active there. While I’ve had a Tumblr account for a couple years now (and have used it in various capacities—at VQR and University of Cincinnati), I’m now using it as a way to talk about everything not pertaining to writing advice. […]

Geoff Wyss

How to Write Characters Who Evoke Reader Compassion

How do you write fiction with characters who are mysteriously human, who evoke empathy and compassion from the reader? Is it by making them understandable? No. Geoff Wyss explains: The better we understand someone, the more fully we should be able to respond to him. But we don’t understand people in real life, not in […]

Best Business Advice for Writers: November 2012

For a couple years, I curated a weekly round-up of links called Best Tweets for Writers. I had fun doing it, but ultimately abandoned it in 2011 when I could no longer sustain the time commitment. Nowadays, there’s no shortage of link round-ups for writers, of varying quality. While I hesitate to add another one […]

A Framework for Thinking About Author Platform

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of participating in an online Google Hangout with the Bay Area Bloggers, hosted by Anne Hill and Suzanna Stinnet. The conversation focused primarily on author platform. We discussed its evolution, its purpose in your career, and how you can decide what efforts are worth your time—plus the value of collaborating […]

26 Questions on Writing & Publishing: My Answers on Reddit

Last Friday, I had the honor of spending a day with the Reddit writing community, where I participated in an AMA (Ask Me Anything). I answered such questions as: Is self-epublishing being overblown? Where can you find freelance editing and copyediting jobs? What are some good conferences to meet agents in person? How has agenting […]

Joshua Henkin

2 Critical Factors for Successful Stories

You can be a beautiful and gifted writer yet fail to craft a compelling narrative. Joshua Henkin, in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, elucidates, in a memorable and striking way, how to check your work for two critical factors of a successful story: For a story to work, there needs to be both consequence and […]

Jane chatting with Kay Steinke at LitFlow

Do Publishers Need to Offer More Value to Authors?

Last month, I gave a 15-minute presentation in Berlin, Germany, called The Future of the Author-Publisher Relationship, as part of an innovative publishing think-tank event called LitFlow. To accompany my talk, I wrote a 2,500-word article. In a nutshell, I suggest that—given the changes happening in the industry—traditional publishers will need to be more author-focused […]

Bradlee Frazer

Q&A on Copyright With an Attorney

By far, I receive the most questions from writers on copyright, mainly due to this post: When Do You Need to Secure Permissions? So I feel very lucky to have found an intellectual property lawyer, Brad Frazer, who is friendly and enthusiastic about providing answers to writers on a range of copyright issues. He’s written three other […]

Plympton: serialized fiction for digital readers

Plympton: A New Effort to Produce Successful Serial Fiction

In the past year, I’ve run two posts specifically related to serial fiction—a guest post by Roz Morris and a Q&A with Sean Platt. I also wrote a more in-depth piece for Publishing Perspectives on the topic last year. Last month, Amazon announced Kindle Serials: a new, formal publishing program, exclusive to Kindle, that focuses […]

What Does It Feel Like to Have Your Book Banned?

Did you know Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg—one of the most popular books on writing of all time—was banned? In honor of Banned Books Week, the good folks at Open Road Media have put together a video featuring authors whose books have been banned—plus celebrating censored favorites. If you don’t see the video appear […]

Josh Swiller

Kitchen Sink That First Draft

Lists of writing tips are always popular (and sometimes overdone), but Josh Swiller’s 12 tips in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin are a delight to read. Two of my favorite tips, directly quoted: Kitchen sink that first draft. Throw every damn thing in there. If you aren’t sure something belongs, if you aren’t even remotely […]

author website

Building Your First Website: Resource List

When writers ask me what the most important thing they should be doing to further their career—aside from write—it’s almost always start your own website. Even if you don’t consider yourself a tech person, services have advanced to the point where an average person can establish a site without knowing code, and without hiring professional […]

Drinking Diaries: Women Serve Their Stories Straight Up

Drinking, Writing, and Self-Discovery

More than a year ago, I participated in a Q&A over at the Drinking Diaries website, which is a forum for women to share, vent, express, and discuss their drinking stories without judgment. It was a fun experience and many wonderful comments came through, plus a couple people bluntly said they didn’t want to know the […]

Stefani Nellen

How to Distract Yourself From Trying to Impress

Do you find yourself writing descriptive passages meant to “wow” the reader? Later, do you find that such passages amount to nothing more than small talk? Or maybe you’re just tired of your current revision process? Writer Stefani Nellen stumbled on a method that has helped her attain needed distance to see her writing for what […]

Leaving Behind Your Day Job

I worked many jobs in my younger days: Papa John’s pizza delivery driver, Cedar Point amusement park employee, McDonald’s drive-thru worker, and KFC associate, just to name a few. Most writers have worked a number jobs before finding the way or the means to pursue writing full time. Open Road Media has put together a […]

Jane's Twitter bio

Build a Better Author Bio for Twitter

Before you decide to follow someone on Twitter, what’s the first thing you look at? Probably the bio. Let’s assume you’re on Twitter because it’s part of your author platform—whether you’re in relaxed mode or professional mode. Have you written a bio that’s likely to attract followers or turn them away? Let’s look at four […]

A Year of Writing Dangerously by Barbara Abercrombie

What Does Your Mother Think of Your Writing? Does It Matter?

Today’s post features an item excerpted from A Year of Writing Dangerously: 365 Days of Inspiration & Encouragement (New World Library, 2012) by Barbara Abercrombie. Barbara has published 14 books and numerous essays and articles, and has taught creative writing courses for almost three decades. She lives in Santa Monica, California. Find out more at her […]

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 […]