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, […]

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 […]