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The guru on how to get your book published

28 April 2016

From NUVO:

You may know Jane Friedman if you have ever browsed through The Great Courses. Hers are some of the highest rated, with titles like How to Get Your Book Publishedand Publishing 101. A Hoosier, Friedman has been writing and having her work steadily published since college. In 2006 she wrote her first non-fiction work that was a guide to writing. We spoke with her about some of the dos and don’ts when weeding through the press world.

NUVO: What are the biggest mistakes you see authors make starting out?

Jane Friedman: I would say the biggest mistake by far is a lack of patience with the process. They send out maybe one query, and they haven’t even researched who that query should go to. Maybe the query isn’t even written that well in the first place, and they get frustrated really quickly and give up. And I would say, as of today, most people decide to self-publish and then they figure out that wasn’t the right choice much later. There is usually a lack of patience with not just the publishing process like I just described. They will be frustrated with having to market their work and pitch their work, but some people pitch too soon. They haven’t allowed themselves time as a writer to develop their craft.

NUVO: How have you seen book marketing change?

Friedman: Well I think there has always been a responsibility for the author to be a promoter of their work. Today, because of digital media, digital marketing and promotion, there are a lot of things that are incumbent on the author to do that in fact wouldn’t even be appropriate for the publisher to do on their behalf. The publisher doesn’t want to pretend to be you on Twitter or on Facebook. They don’t want to be, in those cases, the owner of your website. These are brand properties that belong to the author and it’s up to the author to cultivate them. These are things that span over … an author’s career. They are not specific to a single book … So the author needs to be thinking abut developing those … Not just for one book but very long term. Years really.

NUVO: How would you categorize the current state of publishing?

Friedman: Eh, schizophrenic. (Laughs.) Because there are so many more ways to publish a book than there ever was. It used to be that the path to getting published was pretty narrow, pretty fine, and you weren’t going to work outside those boundaries. A few people could do it and a few exceptional case studies. But by and large the only way to be a successful published author was to go to a traditional publisher or find an agent and take as long as it might have taken for that book to find its readership. Today, self-publishing is generally conceived as just as legitimate a way, but I don’t think it’s any easier. I don’t think it’s the easier path than traditional publishing. I think you find about the same success rate on either side of the equation.

Link to the rest at NUVO

Self-Publishing, The Business of Writing

17 Comments to “The guru on how to get your book published”

  1. “Today, self-publishing is generally conceived as just as legitimate a way, but I don’t think it’s any easier. I don’t think it’s the easier path than traditional publishing. I think you find about the same success rate on either side of the equation.”

    Quicker though, and you still have control/rights …

  2. Wow. Ignorance. You can be the GREATEST writer in the world, and have written that most page turning, engrossing novel of all time. But, if the publishers don’t think they can sell your story, you will never be published. Why do they keep pushing this lie, that if you were only a better writer, you would be published?

    • 100% of people who decide to self-publish can self-publish.

      Estimates of people who decide to submit to traditional publishing then getting published runs at a half of 1%. It’s probably lower, since many people get discouraged.

      Of course self-publishing’s an easier path to publication; thought a separate comparison has to be made for actual earnings.

      This keeps getting answered on forums like this one over and over – and has NOT penetrated (or is deliberately ignored by) the traditional establishment.

  3. Pretty bland stuff, but she’s responding to the questions so I can’t blame her for it.

    The really successfully self-publishing authors have a team working for them. They are not working in a vacuum. And they also have a lot of reader support — like street teams and data readers and huge email newsletter lists.

    “Data readers”?

    I’m reminded of Michael Anderle’s interviews recently on the Author Biz. No big newsletter list, no street teams, just wrote and published a lot of books. And doing quite well.

    He did learn that his books needed to be edited, and with the help of a rookie consultant he crowdsourced his editing.

  4. Which Jane is this? Digital Expert Jane, or Agent Jane? It doesn’t sound like the former. So it must be the agent?

    • Based on the image in the OP, it’s Jane as in “Jane Friedman is the CEO and Co-Founder of Open Road Integrated Media, which sells and markets ebooks.”


      etc, etc.

      • No, it’s the other one. Jane Friedman who was associated with Writer’s Digest, not the one who founded Open Road (and before then was CEO at HarperCollins).

        I’m not sure either Jane was a literary agent.

        I used to think WD Friedman was a valuable resource, but I think one can learn a lot more about digital and publishing from Open Road.

        • well, if you look at the original post on NUVO, which PG links above, there’s a huge head shot, and if you then go to janefriedman.com, the person there looks a whole lot like that headshot, and if you go to writers digest, the same person is, or was, there too. She has a pretty distinctive look.

          Ahha. It’s google that’s mistaken, it shows her headshot along with the openroad media blurb. I’m innocent, I tell you – innocent!

          Interestingly, at the bottom of janefriedman.com it says she’s teaching in Virginia.

        • You’re correct, it’s the Writer’s Digest Jane, which is the one I usually see labeled as the digital expert. The other Jane is the Open Road founder, who I have seen labeled an agent, though it doesn’t seem she ever was one. Maybe it’s because her company merged with a literary agency, according to Wikipedia anyway.

  5. Which Jane is this? Digital Expert Jane, or Agent Jane? It doesn’t sound like the former. So it must be the agent?

  6. I’ve been around the block for a few years now and over a dozen books published, and there are certain truths in what Jane said:
    1-If you go traditional, you get 0.01% chances of being published, if ever. Most likely you’ll get discouraged and quit. If you are the lucky 0.01% to be published traditionally, it may seem easier since you don’t have to be “the cook and the bottle washer too.” Yes you’ll get paid. But you’ll pay the price for giving your rights away and be paid a fraction of what an Indie Author gets paid.
    2-If you go Indie, you have 99.9% chances of being published,(why 99.9%? becasue even as an indie there is a chance to screw up and be banned by Amazon) As an Indie Author you are in charge of everything including running the business and marketing. The number of books you’ll sell depends on Marketing, 99% of the time. But you keep all your rights and get 70% on the sales of your books.
    You can get discouraged and quit with either approaches, becasue this is not a sprint but a long haul, by wagon, coast to coast, through the Death Valley. On average, in both cases the money will be meager compared with the effort put in, so you better love to write.
    And if you love to write, it will get easier the more you write. Your writer skills will increase, your fame will grow, and your business/marketing skills will improve.
    This is the real world, but you have choices and neither is a get rich and famous quickly.

  7. Still waiting for an answer to the query I sent out in 2012 for Darkness Rising: Book One of the Catmage Chronicles. The book that I self-published and have sold about 1500 copies to date.

    Maybe they’re just backed up and will get back to me soon?

    • “Still waiting for an answer to the query I sent out in 2012”

      Well, no wonder, if you only sent out one query, 🙂

  8. LOL, Meryl. Sounds like some of my rejections, such as the one that rejected novels I never actually sent to that publisher. My crit partner had a ROFL about that one, saying, “You’re the only writer I know who can get an R without sending ’em anything.”

    I like my hybrid life. My small press will pub pretty much what I send them, due to track record, and for my project that don’t fit at the press, I self-pub. Life is sweet.

  9. I like Jane a lot. She is a very valuable resource, and I hate to see people who don’t know her work knocking her here. I think she is generally pro-self-publishing, despite her quote here.

    That said, the whole traditional process IS incredibly antiquated and slow. I have no patience for it myself. I see so many excellent books passed up (I’m in a critique group) and at least now there’s a way to get them into the world. It also annoys me no end that traditional publishing has no interest speeding the process up and learning about technology. As someone from the tech world, it is incredibly frustrating to see them shooting themselves (and authors) in the foot over and over again.

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