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Jane Friedman talks marketing for writers

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for Writer’s Digest and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.

MWW presents this Jane Friedman course: Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers, Saturday, February 26, 2022.
Morning Session (10:30 am – 12:00 pm EST); 
Afternoon Session (1:30 pm – 3:00 pm EST. Can’t attend the sessions live? No problem. MWW is offering archival video access for three months to ALL registered attendees.

EARLY BIRD REGISTRATION ENDS 1/31! Register Now!

Most published authors have some kind of online presence, including a website and email newsletter or Facebook page, but they don’t have a clue what it means to develop a cohesive, smart approach that integrates them all. For writers who want to see their online activity pay off, it requires some high-level and strategic thinking about who that writing is meant to reach and who you want to attract over the long term. This course with Jane will look at key strategies and principles for using your website, online writing (such as blogging), email, and social media in concert with each other to better reach and engage readers, both new and old.

MWW: We are thrilled to have another event with you! What’s your connection to the Midwest and Midwest Writers Workshop?

JF: I began speaking at MWW in 2003, when I was an editor at Writer’s Digest magazine in Cincinnati. My boss at the time told me I should reach out to MWW and offer my speaking services, which I thought was rather bold and aggressive—but it worked! MWW said yes.

I continued speaking at MWW for the next 15 years—I think you can say that we’re a good fit. 🙂 I’m originally from Indiana and went to school in Muncie, so I have a lot of connections to the people and the place.

MWW: What’s the number one thing you’d like participants to walk away with after attending The Magical Marketing Trifecta for Writers?

JF: A sense that whatever work needs to be done, it can be done, sustainably, in a way that matches your strengths and values. Marketing doesn’t work unless you yourself believe in what you’re doing. You don’t have to follow the crowd or do it all or push yourself to do things you hate. While there are certain foundational steps and principles surrounding websites and email that I recommend, they are not out of reach for even the most busy, tech-averse writer. It’s a serious of small steps, one after the other. And there’s a wonderful feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment when you see the results of this work.

MWW: I often find incorrect or misleading advice out there for writers. What are some of the myths regarding the publishing industry’s expectations on author platform?

JF: There are a lot of misleading messages about needing a huge social media following in order to land a book deal or how you have to be active on all these different social media sites, or you need to do live video, etc. There are no “musts” here. You do not have to become some kind of superstar or influencer on social for it to be effective. It’s more about building relationships and connections with other people so you’re not working in isolation. No one wants to launch a book all alone. You want support. And social media is wonderful at building that community of support.

MWW: In what ways do you see the publishing industry changing in the next five years, and what effect will this have on writers aspiring to publish their work and maintain an online presence?

JF: More than half of all book sales now happen online, mostly at Amazon, regardless of format. That shift is only going to become more pronounced in the future. As more people discover and buy books online, an online presence becomes more important for marketing and promotion. If you have no website, no email newsletter, no online presence whatsoever, you’re making it much harder on yourself to spread the word about your book. Not impossible necessarily, just hard. The good news is that online tools offer both authors and publishers a wonderful amount of insight into who’s buying your books and where to find more readers.

MWW: Aside from your own excellent website and classes, what sources would you recommend for reliable information on publishing and online presence, and what’s the best way for writers to keep their finger on the pulse of what’s happening in the industry?

JF: The Writer’s Bridge is a good resource for platform building: https://thewritersbridge.com/

For industry updates, consider subscriptions to Publishers Weekly and/or Publishers Lunch. The Authors Guild and the Alliance of Independent Authors are wonderful organizations that also offer news, updates, and education on business topics and trends—for both members and non-members.

MWW: What’s the platform advice you find yourself giving to writers most often?

JF: Be patient. These things take time. Don’t abandon your efforts too early.

MWW: What are your favorite books to read?

JF: I love anything by Alain de Botton and The School of Life.

Join us and move forward with your writing goals!

My First Jane Friedman Course

By Leah Lederman

Why You Need to Sign Up for Jane Friedman’s MWW One-Day, March 27, 2021

I met Ms. Friedman in person at a workshop held by the Indiana Writer’s Center at Marian University in 2019.

Now, I’ve come across celebrities. I once passed Steve Harvey at the Detroit Metro Airport baggage claim at 2 am. But at that moment in the college hallway, I understood the feeling people talk about when they describe meeting a major influence in their life.

(She might remember me as the cartoonish character wagging my tongue while she was trying to get her mojo in place before class. I took my seat, grateful I could stop my mouth-rattling and if she was too, she never let on.)

That workshop was “Getting Your Work Published” and it marked a turning point in my career as a writer. At that time, I’d had a short story collection published by small press and while I sensed that not all of my works-in-progress were best suited for the same trajectory, I didn’t know how to make an informed choice.

The slides were set and the microphone checked, Jane cleared her throat and said something like, “I’m about to school y’all.”

Okay, she didn’t say that. Memory is a funny thing. That’s what I remember, though. Because school me she did.

The presentation was chock full of sample pitches and bios, cover images, charts and graphs, do’s and don’ts, and insider tips. Ms. Friedman took questions from the class like she was rolling a basketball over her shoulders. Honestly, I’d never seen someone go Harlem Globe-trotters while discussing the publishing industry, but that’s the closest comparison I can make.

I sat in the car for a good ten minutes afterwards, a tuning fork still sounding from the information I’d ingested. Rarely outside of grad school had I encountered so much information so densely packed and tightly organized. Ms. Friedman’s talk covered everything from agents, queries, proposals, and comp titles, to book covers, editors, formatting, and distribution. Plus hybrid publishing!

I was familiar with or had working definitions of a lot of the material when I walked in (helped in no small part by www.janefriedman.com), but for so long I’d been drowning in these concepts—especially the varied advice I received about them. By the time I walked out of that room, Jane had given me a life vest, an inflatable raft, an oar, and a first-aid kit.

Naturally, I signed up for her free newsletter, “Electric Speed” (recently I added “The Hot Sheet”) and when 2020 came around, her consistent online course offerings were indispensable to my burgeoning author career. Ms. Friedman’s classes illuminated the nuts and bolts of the writing life: I learned about self-publishing, blogging strategies, working on my author website and managing my author platform. On top of that, top-notch guest lecturers like Allison Williams and Dinty Moore offered valuable insights into the process of memoir.

I’d like to say I’m Jane Friedman’s number one fan but there’s too many contenders and I try not to start fights (I’m barely five feet tall and out of shape). Instead of giving *myself* a title, I’ll simply say that Jane Friedman is a national treasure for writers, a strong supporter of Midwest Writers, and you should sign up for everything she’s putting out there. It will change the trajectory of your author career.

“When it’s time to publish your book,” Jane says, “remember that there is no such thing as a career-ending decision. While I want everyone to feel confident and informed about the publishing options available to them, the honest truth is that many writers end up in a publishing situation that isn’t quite what they imagined, or working with a publisher they’d never before considered. And sometimes the publisher (or agent) isn’t as all powerful or impressive as you once imagined! At some point in the process, you come to realize that much of your success rests on you and the qualities of the work you’ve been developing for years. This is ultimately for the best: you will partner with publishers or services as it suits you, and most writers will modify their path for each and every project. Simply put: You don’t rely on publishers for success.”

REGISTER TODAY!

In this masterclass with publishing industry expert Jane Friedman, you’ll learn not just the foundational principles of getting a book published, but gain up-to-date insight into the changing landscape of the publishing industry, and how you can navigate your own path toward success. You’ll discover what it takes to capture the attention of a New York publisher or literary agent (whether you write fiction or nonfiction) and how to determine if self-publishing, hybrid, or traditional publishing is the most appropriate path for your next project. Can’t attend the sessions live? No problem. MWW is offering archival video access for three months to ALL registered attendees.

Attend How to Get Published with Jane Friedman

MWW Virtual One-Day Conference with Jane Friedman

How to Get Published: Traditional, Self, and Everything in Between

Saturday, March 27, 2021

  • Morning Session (10:30 am – 12:00 pm EST) Traditional Publishing
  • Afternoon Session (1:30 pm – 3:00 pm EST) Self-publishing (and alternatives like hybrid publishing)
  • Cost: $79 early bird; $99 after February 28

In this masterclass with publishing industry expert Jane Friedman, you’ll learn not just the foundational principles of getting a book published, but gain up-to-date insight into the changing landscape of the publishing industry, and how you can navigate your own path toward success. You’ll discover what it takes to capture the attention of a New York publisher or literary agent (whether you write fiction or nonfiction) and how to determine if self-publishing, hybrid, or traditional publishing is the most appropriate path for your next project. Can’t attend the sessions live? No problem. MWW is offering archival video access for three months to ALL registered attendees.

This class will cover the following:

  • Querying like a pro. Your one-page query letter should be short and sweet and pack a punch. Learn what it means to sell your story, and how to avoid problems that plague (and sabotage) writers in this critical document.
  • Whether you need an agent—who they are and what they do. You’ll learn what the standard agenting practices are and why you might want one—and how to make sure you don’t get involved with a bad one.
  • Researching markets (agents and editors) for your work. We’ll look at the major tools and resources for identifying the right agent or publisher for you.
  • Explore traditional publishing options outside of New York. The world of independent publishers—including university presses, small presses, and regional presses—is vast and can sometimes be more challenging to understand than New York publishing, as they all operate a bit differently. Learn how to assess the strength and position of any book publisher.
  • How to decide if you or your book is well-suited to self-publishing—plus the major self-publishing services available, and how to choose the best channels, formats, and distributors based on your target audience and genre.
  • Learn how to decipher “hybrid” publishing arrangements now available alongside the key forms of self-publishing and e-publishing practiced today.

By the end of this class, you’ll have a game plan for getting your book to market in the most efficient and effective way, based on your skills and target readership.

REGISTER TODAY!

About Jane:

Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World; her newsletter was awarded Media Outlet of the Year in 2020.

Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.

In addition to being a professor with The Great Courses, Jane maintains an award-winning blog for writers at JaneFriedman.com; her expertise has been featured by The New York Times, The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, NPR, PBS, CBS, the National Press Club and many other outlets.

Jane has delivered keynotes and workshops on the digital era of authorship at worldwide industry events, including the Writer’s Digest annual conference, Stockholm Writers Festival, San Miguel Writers Conference, The Muse & The Marketplace, Frankfurt Book Fair, BookExpo America, and Digital Book World. She’s also served on grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund, and has held positions as a professor of writing, media, and publishing at the University of Cincinnati and University of Virginia.

In her spare time, Jane writes creative nonfiction, which has been included in the anthologies Every Father’s Daughter and Drinking Diaries. If you look hard enough, you can also find her embarrassing college poetry.