24 Mar Jane Friedman’s New Book is About the Business of Writing
The Business of Writing
I’ve been reading Jane Friedman’s blogs and following her on social media since I began looking for ways to market my first novel, Hattie’s Place. I’ve always valued the advice she gives. It’s based on her extensive experience in the publishing business, both print and media. That’s why I was anxious to read her current book about the business of writing. As soon as I saw that it had been released, I bought it on Kindle.
The premise of the book is that authors must adopt a “market-driven eye” about their work, if they are to make a living off of book sales. Many authors tend to view the creative realm of writing, not only as a separate entity from the business of marketing and promotion. They also view marketing as a domain to be delegated to someone else.
These authors feel that marketing interferes with the creative process of writing. Some even resent the time it takes to become involved. Friedman contends that there is “a natural connectivity between the creative and commercial.” She argues that any author who intends to make a living from writing will have to find that connection and use it to his/her advantage. Besides, she points out, most authors will think of any excuse they can to postpone getting down to writing, so that’s not even a valid argument. (How true!)
Authors Must Know Business Principles
In fact, Friedman’s reason for writing the book is to illustrate how important it is for each writer to learn the fundamental business principles that underly writing and publishing success, and of using those principles to create a business model for his/her career.
The book contains an encyclopedia of resources to help any serious writer understand the various aspects of pursing a writing career. Friedman devotes an entire section to UNDERSTANDING THE PUBLISHING BUSINESS. The section covers trade books, magazines, online and digital media, and literary publishing. In a section entitled GETTING PUBLISHED, she shares her knowledge of how to pursue a literary agent, how to write a book query and synopsis, publishing in various genres, as well as free lance publishing and blogging. In addition, she has included sections on THE WRITER AS ENTREPRENEUR and HOW WRITERS MAKE MONEY.
Not only for Graduates of Writing Programs
Although the book targets readers who are graduates of writing programs and those aspiring to a writing career, it has much to offer those like me for whom “writing has become one of the higher forms of recreation in a leisure society.” (Friedman’s quote from Arianna Huffington). As an independent author whose pension allows me the freedom to pursue self-expression through writing, I am nonetheless interested in building a reader base that will enjoy and appreciate my novels. Friedman’s business model shows me how to do that.
Let’s face it. Writing and independently publishing a novel involves a good deal of expense, especially if you have to pay for professional edits, the creation of a book cover, and the formatting of the cover and text for print or e-book. And those costs don’t even factor in a marketing budget. I’d at least like to make enough off of my books to pay for my writing habit.
From my perspective, the entire book was informative and gave me an overview of the publishing industry. However, as an indie author, I found particularly helpful chapter 15, “Self-Publishing,” in which Friedman explains how books get marketed and promoted in online environments.
The Writer as Entrepreneur
I took copious notes on the entire section of THE WRITER AS ENTREPRENEUR. Friedman does a wonderful job there of explaining the concept of Author Platform. She explains how it grows from the body of an author’s work as the author learns exactly who he/she is as a writer. Chapter 20, “Your Online Presence,” sheds light on how authors can use their websites to build author platforms by posting full length bios, a contact page, links to their social media profiles, and e-mail and newsletter signups.
Friedman uses the term, literary citizenship, to describe how authors establish relationships with their readers. They do this by providing them with free online content, through blogging, or by simply showing up at public events to volunteer time and to spread good will and support for literacy. For novelists with little name recognition or prior credentials, this is the most positive way to build visibility and connect with potential readers. To quote the author:
Reaching the right people is about being active in the places where your audience lives.
Friedman explains how good marketing campaigns combine publicity to drive sales with publicity to build relationships for optimum effect. If the only message that’s being communicated is Buy my book!, audiences will quickly become disinterested or even annoyed. The relationship piece is critical.
An Excellent Resource
There are so many good resources in The Business of Being a Writer. I will return to the book and reference it as I continue to develop my marketing brand. However, my biggest takeaway is that the book has caused me to reframe my attitude about authors not wanting to take a hands on approach to the business end of writing. I see now that writing and marketing are complementary to one another. I now understand that I develop my author platform from who I am as a writer, and that I find out who I am as a writer by developing my body of work.
Thanks to Jane Friedman for helping me see the light and for providing this valuable resource for writers!