Your Efforts Snowball Over Time

Last week, I spoke with Joanna Penn about trends in the publishing industry, e-books and self-publishing, and online marketing (and some other stuff!). You can see highlights of our conversation over at her blog, listen to the podcast, or watch the video! Here’s a brief overview of my Twitter comments, as summarized by Joanna: On […]

Beatrice by Ron Hogan

The Tension Between Art and Commercial Realities

Today’s Q&A is with Ron Hogan. For anyone who’s worked in publishing for more than two minutes, Ron hardly needs an introduction. In 1995, he launched one of the most legendary sites in the literary community, Beatrice, which features interviews with authors. Even when Ron was working for Amazon in the late ’90s on book reviews, he kept up […]

E-mail Sins

Are You Committing These E-mail Sins?

I encourage authors to use e-mail as one of the most powerful tools in their marketing arsenal. But with great power comes great responsibility, right? One of the quickest ways to turn a potential reader (or influencer!) into an enemy is to send an unsolicited message via e-mail or a social network. Here are 4 […]

How to Research & Identify Top Websites & Blogs in Your Category

I often advise new bloggers to identify the top blogs or communities for their target audience, and build relationships with those bloggers. (Don’t see blogging as a competition. It’s a community.) But then the question arises, how do you identify the top websites and blogs in your category or for your audience? Here are free methods […]

Eugene Cross

Doubting Your Work? An Excellent Sign!

Here’s an absolutely fabulous and honest piece by Eugene Cross about what it feels like to study writing as an undergraduate/graduate. It reminds me of how I hoped, wished, dreamed that one of my professors would tell me, “You’re one of the students who really does have the gift. YOU should write.” That never happened. And […]

AWP 2012: Tech-Empowered Writer

The Tech-Empowered Writer (AWP Panel Resources)

This week I’ll be in Chicago for the Association of Writers & Writing Programs annual conference. I’m a panelist on “The Tech-Empowered Writer” on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. This post serves as a handy resource for anyone who attends the panel, plus all of you who will miss it. Think beyond the [analog] book Traditional authorship […]

Effective Website [Robert Hruzek / Flickr]

Build a More Effective Author Website

Every author website should include these elements, whether on the homepage or elsewhere. About/bio page. I recommend a brief, professional bio (250 words or less), and a photo. You can expand in many different ways, but a short bio upfront is very helpful and essential for those looking for the quick facts. Information on your […]

For fun and profit, learn to write briefly

Back to Basics: 5 Keys to Online Writing

Over at Writer Unboxed, where I’m a monthly contributor, I’m breaking out the principles I teach my university students: 5 Keys to Writing for an Online Audience The 5 keys are: Brevity is your friend. Make your content scannable. Clear and direct headlines get more clicks. Categorize, tag, and annotate your content wherever you go. […]

Goodreads

2 Ways to Make the Most of Goodreads

I really admire the folks at Goodreads, not just for their site, but also for the data they share with the industry, including tips for authors. (If you’re not familiar with Goodreads, imagine a Facebook for people who love to read books.) The recent Goodreads author newsletter offered a number of gems helpful for any […]

e-publishing, e-books, e-reading, self-publishing

10 Questions to Ask Before Committing to Any E-Publishing Service

Note from Jane: I updated this post on Nov. 14, 2014. With new services continually appearing on the market that promise to help writers self-publish or distribute their e-books, it’s imperative that you educate yourself about how these services typically operate and understand the fine print of any new service before deciding to commit. Note that when I discuss “services,” […]

blog to book

Please Don’t Blog Your Book: 4 Reasons Why

It’s been a trend ever since I worked full-time as a book acquisitions editor: Blog-to-book deals. I acquired or oversaw the publication of more than a dozen bloggers-turned-book-authors. Sometimes it translated into book sales, sometimes not. Point is: I know that blogs can lead to book deals. However, I want you to think twice before […]

free ebooks

7 Free E-Books for Writers

Last year, I rounded up some of the best free e-books for writers. That list deserves an update, so once again, here are the most valuable e-books and downloads that I recommend for all writers. If you know of others I should include, please leave a comment! General Advice Write Good or Die, a compilation […]

Yelizaveta P. Renfro

6 Exercises for Stronger Character Relationships

As writers, we can spend so much time “fleshing out” our characters as individuals that we forget about the connections between them. That’s why I love this piece by Yelizaveta P. Renfro that offers six concrete ways to think about your characters’ relationships. Here’s an example of one of the exercises: Bury your characters. Imagine […]

Macca / Flickr

3 Numbers That Matter to Your Platform

Nonfiction authors have probably heard the refrain, “Build your platform! Build your platform!” but may not know what a strong platform looks like. Every platform is different (we are all unique individuals!), but here are 3 specific numbers that can come in handy when proving the size, strength, or impact of your online platform, especially in […]

Writer Unboxed

5 Attitudes Toward Publishing You Should Avoid

Today I’m over at Writer Unboxed, discussing the types of attitudes that make me want to issue red-flag warnings to writers. They are: If I can’t get a deal soon, I’m self-publishing. I just want to get my book published. Quality is subjective, and I don’t need a professional editor. I just need someone to […]

Design Act 2010

Seeking Your Feedback on the Reading Experience

As some of you may be aware, over the past month I overhauled my site design. I’m continuing to tweak and improve the experience and would value your feedback, especially from those of you who read my posts regularly on the site (rather than via e-mail or RSS feeds). One thing I’ll soon change is […]

Red Maple by Bruce / Flickr

Placing Too Much Importance on Passion

Passion has become a cheap word. I’m starting to roll my eyes when I hear it. But it hasn’t always been this way. It all started when I read a 2010 post by Siddhartha Herdegen, “Why You Don’t Need Passion to Be Successful.” It was the first time I questioned one of my dearly held personal […]

E-Book Sales 2011

E-Book Statistics For Authors to Watch

This weekend, I’ll be speaking at the Writer’s Digest Conference about e-publishing. I’m in the process of updating my slides and information about e-book sales—which can be a confusing and murky issue since the reporting of such sales is not as standardized as print book sales (yet). Meaning: You can not only find various data […]

Jane Friedman speaking at the 2011 Writer's Digest Conference

Must-Attend Sessions: 2012 Writer’s Digest Conference

Once again, I’ll be speaking at the annual Writer’s Digest Conference in New York City this coming weekend. They have an incredible line-up of keynote speakers (plus the infamous pitch slam), but when it comes to breakout sessions, I’d like to share my picks for writers trying to get traditionally published. Pitch Perfect (Friday, 6 […]

Joe Vastano

Why Creative People Are Walking Paradoxes

In the latest Glimmer Train bulletin, Joe Vastano has a lovely essay on how writers have to acknowledge the duality inside them in order to achieve artistic triumph. I couldn’t agree more. Here’s a brief snippet: Creative people are walking paradoxes; both shrewd and naïve, libidinous yet prudish, and so on. I believe that this […]

Closed for Business / Maistora / Flickr

Do You Hold E-Rights to Your Traditionally Published Book?

I recently received this very challenging question and scenario from traditionally published author Dr. Liz Alexander. I have an issue with one of my publishers and don’t really understand where I stand. Last year Octopus Publishing (who took over Gaia, publisher of four of my highly illustrated best sellers, including The Book of Chakra Healing […]

Email Icon

Why You Should Add E-mail Subscription Service to Your Blog

If you have a blog, you should offer visitors a way to subscribe to new posts via e-mail. This means they can receive new posts via e-mail without having to visit your blog. You should offer this whether your blog is frequently updated or rarely updated—but especially if it’s rarely updated. Why? It’s a good and […]

How Do You Know If Your Agent Is Any Good?

I recently received the following question from a writer who wishes to remain anonymous: Every new writer wants to know how to get an agent and everyone seems to write about that topic. But I want to know how to assess my agent. How do I know if I have a good one? I’m trying […]

Writer Unboxed

So, How Do I Find The Time To Do All This?

It’s the most common question I get: How do you find the time to do everything you do? Until now, I’ve never had a ready answer, except that I have few obligations and responsibilities outside of my own career. But after pondering the reasons, I’ve written this post over at Writer Unboxed: The Secret to […]

Speaking at SXSW PubCamp 2011

My Best Advice for Writers From 2011

Last week I shared 12 Must-Read Articles From 2011. Now I’m going to share a list of the best advice I gave in 2011 as a handy reference. My Absolute Favorites You Hate Your Writing? That’s a Good Sign! This was one of the most tweeted articles I wrote in 2011. The Persistent and Damaging Myth […]

Publishing Perspectives

Serial Fiction: An Old Form Made New

Yesterday, my feature article for Publishing Perspectives went live: Experimenting With Serials for Fun and Profit Here’s a little excerpt: Debate continues about whether the reader really prefers [serials] for long-form narratives. Shya Scanlon, a literary author who experimented with serialization in 2009 with The Forecast 42 Project says, “It would have been much better had I had […]

Jane Reading on Her Kindle

12 Must-Read Articles From 2011

Here are the most brilliant online articles I read this past year. You may not agree with the arguments you’ll find, but you have to give them credit for being original and thought-provoking. They will enrich your thinking about writing and publishing, and give you a more nuanced perspective of the industry. Also, you probably […]

Video Interview: The Future of Publishing

Earlier this year, I had a video chat with Jon over at Children’s Book Insider about the future of publishing, among other things. Please overlook any funny face you see in the screen capture (a sure-fire sign I’m making a really important point). It’s a 24-minute conversation. Click here to listen if the above video […]

Grunge Social Media Art

How Social Media Can Change Your Life

Sometimes I find myself defending social media to the experienced user and beginner alike. It can be easily accused—and rightly so—of being full of shameless self-promoters, shrill marketing, and naked people. That’s only one side, though, and it doesn’t have to be the side you engage in or tolerate. Just because you have to throw […]

Keynoting the Indy Authors Fair (2011)

How Perfect Does Your Manuscript Have to Be?

As part of the 2012 Missouri Writers Guild conference faculty, I did a Q&A for their conference blog that discusses many topics, including: How I got started with social media The difference between marketing objectives, strategies, tactics, and tools How perfect your manuscript must be before submitting to an agent or editor

Wordpress

The Big Mistake of Author Websites and Blogs

     One of the easiest ways for an author to get a site up and running is to use Blogger or WordPress. As convenient as this is, and as wonderful as I find WordPress, this can lead to a critical error. Authors end up using a blog as their website, but aren’t interested in blogging. […]

Janice Hubschman

Writing Advice That Saves You in 5 Years

I just discovered this wonderful article, “Steal This List,” by Janis Hubschman (featured in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin). It features advice that’s worth saving over a period of years—the kind of advice that’s critical to planning, writing, and revision. Here’s a taste: When the story stalls, ask: what is the character thinking now? Is […]

Writer Unboxed

Writers Need More Copywriting Training

Today I’m the featured contributor at Writer Unboxed, where I talk about copywriting: The No. 1 Overlooked Skill for Every Author I’m not quite ready to admit that headline is hyperbole—I’d rather say it’s brilliant copywriting. When it comes down to it, every writer—if they want to earn a living from their craft—must learn how […]

Anthologize

Turn Your WordPress Blog Into a Book

I’ve written about this tool before, but so few people know about it—and it’s so incredibly useful!—that it’s worth mentioning again. Anthologize is a free plug-in for WordPress-based sites and blogs that allows you to manipulate and edit your site content into a book. (Unfortunately, this plugin will only work with self-hosted WordPress sites, not […]

website

3 Reasons to Have a Website If You’re Unpublished

When I tell writers it’s mandatory they have a website, those who are unpublished will immediately ask, “But what do I say on my website if I’m unpublished?” I’ll answer that question in a moment, but this question assumes that there’s no benefit to having a site unless it’s to market, promote, and sell a […]

3 Free Books

3 Free Books to Open Your Eyes to the Future of Authorship

In my most recent e-newsletter, I discussed 3 books (free to all!) that I consider mandatory reading for every author. If you didn’t receive the newsletter, you can view it here. The three books are: Mediactive by Dan Gillmor Book: A Futurist’s Manifesto by Hugh McGuire & Brian O’Leary The Cluetrain Manifesto My newsletter explains […]

Jane's Facebook profile

Too Many Facebook Friends: Blessing or Curse?

On my personal Facebook profile, I am slowly but inevitably reaching the cap for friends (3,810 of 5,000). It’s prompting me to reflect on (1) how exactly I got to this point (2) how many people are turned off by this number (3) if *I* am turned off by this number and (4) what difference the number makes, if […]

Jane Knows

How Should You Spend Your Book Marketing Budget?

Author Brad Swift asks the following: I have a number of fiction and nonfiction books now available through Amazon as Kindle editions and POD hard copies (through CreateSpace). The selection can be viewed on my Author’s Page. I’m now wondering if I were to raise capital (say through a KickStarter campaign or otherwise) to promote […]

lone tugboat

A Tugboat Arrived

Today’s guest post is by Louisiana writer Darrelyn Saloom. Read more of her posts here. On a brisk, clear morning in Baton Rouge, I lay in a Hilton hotel bed and watched tiny tugboats push huge barges up the muddy Mississippi. Little did I know, hours later, a tugboat would arrive and tow Deirdre Gogarty […]

Content Curation

3 Tools for Curation

I love a good curator. I find curation more valuable these days than content. My latest e-newsletter focused on 3 curation tools. You can view it here. (Subscribe by clicking here.) I also mention a couple articles related to curation that you should read: Content Is a Service Business (O’Reilly Radar) by Andrew Savikas Accessibility vs. […]

Laura Oliver

What Territory Do You Explore With Your Writing?

I love this insight from Laura Oliver on the writing life, in a post called “Territory.” She discusses the themes that can permeate our writing, sometimes over a lifetime. (I’ve also heard this phenomenon called one’s “ultimate life concern.”) Here’s a snippet: Most writers have a territory they explore for a time—perhaps an entire career. It […]

Jane Knows

When’s the Right Time to Leave Your Big Six Publisher?

I received the following question from published author Lisa Earle McLeod—who I remember first meeting at a Foothills Writers Guild conference in South Carolina: Hi Jane, My first book, Forget Perfect, was published by Perigee (Penguin USA) in 2001. It did moderately well. Now 10 years later, as sales were starting to peter out, Forget […]

Jane Knows

How to Sell Low-Cost Subscriptions to Short Stories

I received the following question from Gail McConnon: Re: Question on Serializing a Short Story Collection through a Paid Subscription I know. That subject header is enough to make the head spin. Just stay with me for a minute, though. There’s something I’d like to do, but haven’t a clue where to start. I’m really […]

Writer Unboxed

Do-It-Yourself vs. Professional Help

Yesterday was my regular contribution to Writer Unboxed. I discussed how some independent authors are putting their work out there with zero professional help. Here’s a snippet: Working with professionals should challenge you. It should raise the bar. You’ll probably feel some doubts about the quality of your work. This is a good thing. Professionals usually […]

Blank Faces by Rommel Adao

I Hate Press Releases

This is part rant, part advice. I don’t write this post as if my needs were everyone’s. But it’s frustrating to see authors AND PUBLISHERS—who probably have little time and resource to begin with—wasting their time by contacting bloggers (and others in the media) with dead-on-arrival press releases. Let’s back up for a moment. What […]

WordPress Plug-Ins: The Bare Essentials

This past weekend, I was a presenter at PodCamp Cincinnati. Many talented people in social media attended from the region, so I learned quite a few things myself. My favorite session was by Daniel J. Lewis, the event organizer, who gave a snappy session on essential WordPress plug-ins. I’m going to share a few recommendations […]

Electric Speed Newsletter

3 Indispensable Software Tools for Writers

This past Sunday, I sent out the latest issue of my e-newsletter, Electric Speed. It featured 3 indispensable software tools for writers. You can view it here. Click here to subscribe & never miss an issue.  

by Emilie Ogez / Flickr

My Secret for Battling Procrastination

To some, I may appear productive. But like many, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I try to think about my weakness in positive terms, e.g., “I work better under pressure.” That is true—I believe there’s nothing like a deadline to force you to be creative (one reason why I love blogging!). However, for some projects, I […]

Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen?

I recently received the following question from working writer Shannon Traphagen: I have been fervently working on my novel (I am 5 chapters into writing it) and feel I have a platform like no other. My protagonist and antagonist are strong, and I feel it’s a fictional story that’s never really been done before. I’m very […]