Broken pencil

When Self-Publishing Is More Useful As a Marketing Tool

The turning point of my long-term publishing plans came when I realized I have very little in common with author Joanna Penn. Have you heard of her? I started following Joanna on Twitter because she always shared great writing links, but I also began to follow her self-publishing story. She wrote a novel, released it […]

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 […]

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 […]

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, […]

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 […]

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.)

The definition of literary

What Is a Literary Novel?

Today’s guest post is by Dr. Sanjida O’Connell, a literary author based in the UK. Her latest book is out in paperback, Sugar Island. The Literary Novel. We all know one when we see it, although deciphering what it is or telling someone else how to spot one is problematic. In a tautological definition, literary […]

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 […]

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 […]

Local Japan Times / Flickr

4 Ways to Find the Right Freelance Editor

Today’s guest post is from author and copyeditor C.S. Lakin. Whether you plan to submit your manuscript to an agent or publisher, or intend to self-publish, you’ve probably heard considerable advice about hiring an editor. (If you’re still wondering if the investment is worth it, read Jane’s post on the matter.) This post assumes you’ve […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Flickr / Mark Chadwick

7 Ways Meditation Increases Creativity

Today’s guest post is from Orna Ross, a bestselling Irish author. Our creative intelligence is not accessed by effort in the conventional sense that you learned at school or work. We cannot try or strive or strain for it, any more than we can strive to have fingers or feet. It’s more about dissolving the […]

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 […]

Pulitzer Prize

8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer

Today’s guest post is from writer Joe Bunting, who blogs at The Write Practice. We all know there are novels and then there are “literary” novels. When you read Margaret Atwood, it just feels different than when you read Tom Clancy. And for some reason, these literary novels are the ones that win all the […]

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. […]

Sheep herd

How to Confront the Fear of Public Speaking

Today’s guest post is by author Deborah Niemann. Last week as my adult daughter was driving me to a TV station in Indianapolis for a morning show to promote my book, Homegrown and Handmade, I said, “I guess I should be used to the fact that I feel like I’m really sick every time I […]

The Secrets They Kept by Joanne Tombrakos

What Good Salespeople Know That Writers Should

Today’s guest post is by author and business person Joanne Tombrakos. What ultimately spurred my decision to self-publish was a quality that had served me well during the 25 years I spent selling commercials on radio and television stations. Impatience. Simply put, I got tired of waiting for someone else to publish me. Good salespeople […]

Ball State professor Brad King

How We May Read

Today’s guest post is by Brad King, a professor at Ball State with a brilliant mind for emerging media and tech. He will be a regular guest here for a while, writing a series on how people read (in general) and how people read within the tablet/eReader environment. It’s a great honor and privilege for me to […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

The Writer's Workout

Platform and Social Media Must Not Be Your Center

Today’s post is excerpted from The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach (Writer’s Digest, 2011) by Christina Katz. With so much emphasis on the social networking aspects of creative careers these days, you might expect an expert on author platform building to promote an extremely social approach. But I […]

10 Phrases to Purge From Your Speech & Writing

The following is excerpted from Word Savvy by Nancy Ragno, recently released by Writer’s Digest Books. The following mistakes occur so often that they have come to sound and look correct. Undoubtedly, you will recognize some entries as known errors, but others may give you pause: “Is that an error? I didn’t realize that.” Since the […]

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 […]

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.  

Write-a-thon

The Story Bible: What It Is and Why You Need One

The following is an excerpt from Write-a-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) by Rochelle Melander, now available from Writer’s Digest Books. In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies. —L. Sprague de Camp […]

Glacier National Park

3 Questions Every Creative Person Must Ask

I’m starting to find that the same dilemmas come up again and again when I talk with a group about online media and marketing. These are dilemmas that I can’t solve. They boil down to three questions you have to ask yourself—and be able to answer honestly—to find a path that’s your own, not mine. […]

Sean Platt

The Evolving Model of the Entrepreneurial Novelist

It’s pleasure to bring you this insightful Q&A with writer Sean Platt. As his own website states, Sean Platt writes it all. He writes copy, websites, books, and has most recently developed a new epic thriller series, Yesterday’s Gone, with his writing partner, David Wright. In addition to my interest in the creation and marketing of […]

Writer's Digest (October 2011)

Book Proposals in the Digital Age

I started my first publishing job in 1998, and I immediately started reviewing nonfiction book proposals as part of an editorial team. By 2010, what constituted a strong book proposal had dramatically transformed. You can probably guess why. The Internet has forever changed how we discover, access, and distribute information and entertainment. For a nonfiction […]