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The Business of Being a Writer

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4.53  ·  Rating details ·  186 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Writers talk about their work in many ways: as an art, as a calling, as a lifestyle. Too often missing from these conversations is the fact that writing is also a business. The reality is, those who want to make a full- or part-time job out of writing are going to have a more positive and productive career if they understand the basic business principles underlying the ind ...more
Paperback, 313 pages
Published March 16th 2018 by University of Chicago Press
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Jane Friedman Hello Gila,

The book touches on how to work with editors at a traditional publishing house when you have a book under contract, and it also discusses…more
Hello Gila,

The book touches on how to work with editors at a traditional publishing house when you have a book under contract, and it also discusses working as a freelance editor, but only in a single, short chapter. So this book is not of much use to new freelance editors as far as building a business and dealing with clients.

For alternatives, you might look at Peter Ginna's WHAT EDITORS DO, although it's more appropriate for those working in traditional publishing who want guidance on both the art and the business.

I know the University of Chicago Press is currently working on a book for those seeking to start a freelance editing business. I think it'll come out in 2019 or 2020 and may provide exactly what you're looking for.(less)

Community Reviews

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 ·  186 ratings  ·  70 reviews


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Julie Duffy
Mar 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I read a lot of self-help and inspirational books, and writing advice (heck, I write some). Most of it is the "Woohoo! You can do this!" type necessary to psyching yourself up to do the difficult business of wrangling words and sharing them.

This book is not one of those books.

This book is your older, wiser, best friend who loves you, and sits you down to say,

Girl, I believe you can do it if you want to--you know I do. But first, let me show you what 'it' really looks like...

OK, now are you sure
...more
Stephen Welch
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I can't recommend this book enough for anyone who is interested in getting their book or article published, or making a living of any kind from their writing.

I've been following Jane Friedman's Blog, and have been on her Electric Speed and (with Porter Anderson) HotSheet newsletters for years. Deeply knowledgeable about the industry, candid and down-to-earth, her perspective and advise earned my trust and confidence early on.

Again, highly recommended.

Erika Dreifus
Superb overview. Keep an eye out for the supplemental resources that will be added around publication to the companion website at https://businessofwriting.org/supplem....
M.L. Rio
Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
A little redundant in places for anybody who already has a foot in the industry, but a great resource for anyone who’s truly new to publishing and writing as a job. Friedman does vital work debunking stubborn myths about creative careers and telling unpleasant truths about the way the business works.
Brad Needham
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is chock full of detailed and valuable information about the world of publishing. My one word of warning is that the book seems to lean toward writers who want to make a career of writing literary fiction rather than genre fiction or how-to books, and those who wish to be published by traditional publishers rather than self-publishing. I felt the book constantly portrays self-publishing as a very hard road, to be attempted only by the most sturdy of writers. Yes, self-publishing requir ...more
Susan Kietzman
May 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jane Friedman is a well known and respected authority on all things writing - and her new book is proof. While I borrowed it from the library, I will now order a copy from my favorite independent bookstore and keep it handy for reference. Whether you are a blogger, novelist, freelancer or non-fiction writer, Friedman's book will help you get published, stay published, and grow your business. Writers who refuse to acknowledge and participate in the business side of authorship need to think again ...more
Sebastian Hetman
Jan 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Never has a book shattered so many of my imaginary futures, dreams, and romantacized fantasies as this one. Jane Friedman cuts to the chase and explains the realities of today's publishing industry and by doing so sets the expectations that all aspiring writers should begin their careers with.

Highly recommended as a starting point for all budding writers.
Missy
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow! Very thorough, well-informed journey through the business of writing. Jane Friedman is incredibly matter-of-fact in her insights and advice to wannabe professional writers and I found myself folding many page corners as a reminder to return later to review.

In addition to her clear-eyed approach to “making it” as a writer, Friedman also speaks openly about the tenacity required to pursue this path. I loved her chapters that discussed rejection and highlighted a few passages that I found app
...more
Jen B.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Dry, but a good overview and information packed. A broad coverage of topics for all different kinds of writers.
Theo Pauline Nestor
Jun 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent resource for anyone wanting to earn a living as a writer. Rich with current information, wisdom, and solid advice.
W. Whalin
Apr 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Get the Wisdom and Experienced Insights Throughout This Book

Jane Friedman is an experienced editor and writer and a keen observer of the business aspects of publishing. She has seen firsthand what is working and what is not. With THE BUSINESS OF BEING A WRITER, Friedman pours her insights into the pages of this well-crafted book.

Many writers ignore the business aspects of publishing—to their own detriment. As Friedman writes in the introduction: “Here’s the biggest danger, if there is one: Busi
...more
Yi
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book puts into one smart package so much you need to know about making writing a business. And it lays out exactly why writing *should* and *can* be a business, if you want it to be that way.

Art has the capacity to do so much in such a fractured time, but this importance is only underscored by our current climate. If the artists that we know can heal rifts aren't getting paid for it, then we're doing something wrong.

I'm a graduate of a prestigious publishing course. And I wish this were a
...more
Elizabeth Sims
Apr 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Definitely a good guide for both beginning and experienced writers who want to grok the business. The whole publishing world can be so intimidating, but Friedman really de-mystifies things and breaks them down. If you have any anxiety about this stuff, get this book, cuz it'll help.
Sharon Orlopp
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jane Friedman's book, The Business of Being A Writer, should be required reading in all MFA, Creative Writing, Journalism, etc classes. It should be given out to each person who submits a book proposal or manuscript for the first time.

Art and commerce are both required in order to earn money as a writer, yet most degree programs and books about writing focus on the craft rather than on the business of marketing and selling books.

Friedman gets down to the brass tacks and shares what writers typic
...more
Tom Bentley
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a keenly organized and comprehensive overview of the publishing industry, and the means by which modern writers can make a successful living. In persuasive and logical language, Friedman specifies how words are packaged and marketed in the digital age. Strong material on what agents do, querying, book proposals, and the perils (maybe it's not so scary after all) of establishing a writer's platform. The "How Writers Make Money" section spells out the myriad (and often overlooked) way ...more
Eileen O'Finlan
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book came highly recommended and I can see why. Friedman offers excellent insight and advice on the business aspect of publishing. The focus of this book is the behind the scenes things most new or unpublished authors don't realize about the publishing industry. It clears away a lot of long-held misconceptions and succinctly explains what and why authors need to learn to handle their own ongoing publicity especially in regards to social media. Friedman is honest and frank about the difficul ...more
Ed Barks
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Friedman is one of the preeminent experts when it comes to indie publishing. She covers the waterfront in this book, doling out advice on everything from writing books to blogs. And she covers the business aspects of writing, giving prospective writers a cold dose of reality -- if you want to be successfully published, you must approach it as a business.

One note: This book would be best positioned as a resource for writers just starting out on their journey. While comprehensive, the vast majorit
...more
Rosemary Rey
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
My most favorite segment was the Afterword, where Ms. Friedman reminds us to write what we want to write and acknowledges the very real imposter syndrome. I needed a writing reference book to give me some guidance on how to navigate this writer's life that I'd chosen over 5 years ago. Regardless of the number of books and stories I've written and self-published, I still feel lost in this vast industry. This book gave me a refresher and new insight into the publishing world. I do believe this wor ...more
JW
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Are you a writer? Trying to be? Dreaming of words more often than deeds? Then buy two copies of this book. Read the first, then take the second copy and dry it out as much as possible. Using a large mortar and pestle, grind the book into a fine powder that can be heated back into a liquid using a lighter and a large spoon. Use a (fresh!) needle and syringe to collect the liquid, then inject it directly into your veins to ensure you absorb as much of Jane Friedman's knowledge as possible.

You may
...more
Evelyn Starr
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jane Friedman's guide delivers straightforward advice on every type of business a writer would consider: writing and selling books, teaching writing, becoming an editor, freelancing and more. I found her advice realistic and reassuring. She encourages without sugarcoating prospects for securing engagements and earning from writing. Students would do well to read this book before setting out on writing careers, and anyone looking to profit from their writing in some way will find help here.
Michele Brown
Jan 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I find Jane Friedman to be such a wonderful teacher and resource as a writer and this book is a must have for any writer wanting some guidance into the process of getting published. Easy to understand with relevant, helpful suggestions, I am so glad I bought it and read it.
B. Zelkovich
Jan 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every single page if this book taught me something. I need a copy of my own to reference as the years and projects go by.
Michael Beashel
Excellent aid for all writers at all levels, a must have companion to help selling yourself...because if you don't believe in yourself how do you expect others too.
Andrea
Sep 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction, 2018
Can't complain; I read the majority and it was majority spot-on. For general purposes, this book is kind of a must. Friedman manages to cover a huge amount of territory. (The vastness of publishing means she doesn't have time for anything more than a cursory wave toward genre fiction. Anything to do with short stories/magazines/journals is almost exclusively to do with litfic, which is a very special place compared to sf/f, for example, so bear that in mind.)
Vania Rheault
May 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is an exceptional book by a top person in the industry. She sure knows what she's talking about. Ms. Friedman tells you exactly what the publishing landscape is like right now, and how you, as a writer, can get your work published.

It never ceases to amaze me how little preparation writers do when they want to query or publish a book. I'm always equating writing/publishing to other professions. Can you be a doctor without a medical degree? Can you be a lawyer without passing the bar? Yet so
...more
Deborah Sheldon
Jun 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
A comprehensive overview. This book is best suited to new writers who are just starting out. For writers who are more seasoned, however, there is not much fresh information. That said, the validation that you are doing it right (or wrong) is still much appreciated!
Carol
Mar 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jane "tells it like it is" in a straight-forward manner and gives good practical advice throughout the book. I recommend this book for anyone wishing to try to make money at writing or anyone who just wants to understand book publishing options. Particularly helpful is covering the role of the agent vs. the publisher and explaining how each makes money, along with the writer.
Shayla Raquel
Feb 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Publishing books is just one facet of having a career as a writer." —Jane Friedman

Writers, it's time for a reality check.

Thankfully, Jane Friedman has got you covered with The Business of Being a Writer.

Anyone who has ever spent enough time in this industry knows the publishing powerhouse Jane Friedman. She writes value-packed blog posts, offers top-notch guidance for authors, and keeps us in the know with The Hot Sheet.

Basically, I all but jumped and down when Jane's book landed on my porch i
...more
Diana Stout
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I was teaching a creative writing class for beginning writers again, this book, The Business of Being a Writer, would be my students’ textbook. The information is honest and thorough. From Part One: First Steps of what it entails to become a writer, to Part Two: Understanding the Publishing Industry, which many writers don’t want to bother with and should for their own protection if nothing else, to Part Three: Getting Published covers hardcore but basic information.

The last two sections, Par
...more
Ronel Janse van Vuuren
This book looks at all avenues of publishing (magazines, online, traditional, self-publishing, etc.) and how the writer fits into it. This is an eye-opening read for those who still hold an idealistic view of the writer’s life.

This is the book every writer needs to read, no matter where they are in their career. It gives you sage advice and reminds you that your efforts aren’t in vain. It looks at platform building, getting published, finding an agent and everything else you need to know as a wr
...more
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Jane Friedman has spent more than 20 years in the publishing industry as a writer, editor, publisher, and professor.

From 1998–2010, Jane worked at F+W Media, where she ultimately became the publisher of Writer’s Digest, a $10-million multimedia brand where she was responsible for the business strategy and financial performance of a team of twenty, which covered editorial, design, advertising, and
...more
“Mark Twain’s most successful work was sold by traveling salesmen going door to door—at a time when this form of marketing was considered extremely impolite.” 0 likes
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