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 to the mix, I’m going to enter the fray again, but on a monthly basis, strictly focusing on the business of being a writer. No craft & technique, no inspirational stuff. Just the absolute best advice I’ve found, online, about being smarter about your career—and why I think it’s the best.

I hope you find it helpful. If you have link suggestions for this monthly round-up, don’t hesitate to contact me.

How an Enterprising Author Sold a Million Self-Published Books

This is a profile of best-selling novelist C.J. Lyons (@cjlyonswriter) by Mark McGuinness (@MarkMcGuinness). I’ve met C.J. at writing conferences, and I find her to be the most honest, reasonable, and experienced author who has success playing on both sides of the publishing field—traditional and self-pub. While the title of this article may put off some people (it did me at first), the content and advice is top rate. From the profile:

CJ has an artist’s dedication to the craft of writing, which is a necessary condition of her success. In an ideal world, it would be nice to think that just writing great books would also be sufficient to achieve what she has done.

But the reality is that, over and above the effort CJ puts into her writing, she has also approached her work as a creative entrepreneur, applying her creativity to the process of moving her business forward as well as her story lines.

After you finish reading the Copyblogger profile, I urge to check out her website, blog, and other offerings where she openly shares what she’s learned.

How Readers Discovered a Debut Novel: A Case Study

The people at Goodreads (a twelve-million member social network for reading) try to answer an age-old question with hard data from a book launch by an unknown, self-publishing author. From the article:

Online sales currently represent about 39% of all sales (Bowker), and the adoption of ebooks is fueling this shift. Online discovery, however, at least in an ecommerce setting, has yet to equal the serendipitous experience of wandering the aisles of a bookstore and happening upon a new book.

Then they proceed to show how a book gained momentum, racked up sales, and attracted the attention of a New York publisher, who signed the author to a traditional book deal.

Facebook: Best Practices for Profiles, Pages, Groups, and Posts

By Darcy Pattison (@FictionNotes), this is an excellent round-up of advice from authors who have hands-on experience with Facebook. If you’re new to using Facebook as part of your career, this is a great primer. From the post:

Susanna Reich, author of Minette’s Feast: The Delicious Story of Julia Child and Her Cat, used only her Facebook profile to promote this picture book. Starting a few months before the publication, she posted news, reviews, interviews, event announcements, event photos, and Julia Child quotes. She cautions, “I’ve found that over time I’m getting fewer ‘Likes’ and comments. I suspect that a constant diet of Julia Child can become boring, and I’d have more success if I mixed in posts on other topics.”

Also, if you’d like more insight on Facebook, check my post here.

Mustering the Courage to Turn Down a Publishing Contract

Over at Writer Beware—a site you ought to subscribe to if you haven’t already—Author Kfir Luzatto (@KfirLuzzatto) offers 10 tips to mull over when looking at your next contract. Even better, blog host Victoria Strauss offers a round-up of invaluable links and resources for contract assessment. Bookmark it—you’ll thank yourself later.

Top 5 Goals for Your Book or E-Book Cover

This short and sweet piece by Joel Friedlander (@JFBookman), who hosts probably the best site for self-publishing authors, is mandatory reading for those about to pull the publishing trigger on a new e-book. He presents insight and knowledge that’s long been internalized by traditional publishing folks, but that unpublished authors don’t know.

Publishers Brace for Authors to Reclaim Book Rights in 2013

I’ll just give you the nutshell summary from the article:

A copyright law that lets authors break contracts after 35 years will start taking effect in January. The law, which is meant to give authors like Stephen King and Judy Blume a “second bite at the apple,” could provide yet another disruption for traditional publishers.

Go read the full write-up by Jeff John Roberts (@JeffJohnRoberts) at PaidContent.

A New (Free) Way to Sell Books From Your Sidebar

Claire Ryan (@rayntweets), who heads up an independent author services company, has created a free WordPress plug-in that makes it easy to sell your books on your website, while pointing to all the different retailers and devices on which your book might be available. For authors using (not self-hosted), she even provides a work-around for you, too!

Who Pays Writers (@WhoPaysWriters)

This is a brand-spanking new Tumblr site that is simply trying to collect information about who pays and who doesn’t. Right now, it seems to focus on online opportunities. If you have knowledge to share, or just want to educate yourself, this is a site to bookmark and refer to. Fingers crossed that it becomes a full-fledged resource site over time.

BookBaby Partners with Bound Book Scanning to Convert Print Books into eBooks

This is probably the first and only time you’ll find me linking to a press release, but it’s such a needed service that I want to share the news. BookBaby, one of the e-book distributors I often recommend, is solving a problem I frequently hear about: An author wants to digitize their book, but all they have is the print edition. If this describes you, then check out BookBaby’s latest service offering, which presents a convenient, all-in-one solution.

That’s it for the first installment. Did I miss a terrific article from November? Let me know in the comments.

Posted in Business for Writers.

Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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Stephanie Zia

Fantastic post, BookBaby link extremely useful! thanks so much.

Jim Hamlett

Thrilled to see you do this, Jane. I LOVED your Best Tweets and was forlorn to see it go. But I fully understand the constraints of time. That ol’ sun rises and sets with alarming regularity. “Once a month” is a wise move–and very welcomed. Will look forward to it.

Anne R. Allen

I miss Best Tweets for Writers, so I’m ecstatic you’re going to be curating links again. And good business-oriented ones are the most needed. BookBaby’s scanning is going to be a godsend. Thanks, Jane!

Who Pays Writers?

Thank you for mentioning Who Pays Writers, Jane. We are huge fans of your work. The site is only one day old (!) but plans to stick around for the long haul if there continues to be interest in the information, and if people keep contributing. And yes, we welcome payment information about print publications. Thanks.

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Jessy Ferguson

Excellent, Excellent! thanks for all the valuable info. I’m familiar with most, but NOT Who Pays Writers. You are as valuable as these sites, Jane!

EC Sheedy

I’m looking forward to following this blog–even though I’m coming close to throwing in the towel on the idea I’ll EVER be able to keep up with the changes in publishing, indie or otherwise. Seriously, it truly makes my head hurt!

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Nancy Freund

Thank you! You’re covering exactly what I hope to find most… and once a month is perfect as a digest. I’m thrilled with your new format. Very much appreciated.

Joel Friedlander

So glad you’re doing this again, Jane, you are one of the best curators out there. Keeping it focused on the business of writing is a terrific idea. (And thanks for the link!)

[…] In other publishing news, HarperCollins and the J.R.R. Tolkien estate file an $80 million suit against The Hobbit producers; Ella Delany explores the impact of the Penguin and Random House merger on literary agents; and Jane Friedman debuts her monthly round-up of the best writing business links. […]

Cyd Madsen

Thank you for this. Writers need some financial savvy from a source they can trust. Like EC Sheedy, I’ve shut down Scrivener and gone back to scriptwriting. I prefer prose (love it!), but it’s gotten too risky, too costly, and too confusing. Thank you again. What a relief.

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Thanks for the great links, especially the plugin by Claire Ryan.


Interesting – I was actually looking for something like Bookbaby a few years ago. Nice to know it’s out there.

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