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The Business of Being a Writer

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  98 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 ...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)
Jane Friedman Publishing 101 covers book publishing, with a bit of marketing thrown in. The Business of Being a Writer starts with the principles of building a…morePublishing 101 covers book publishing, with a bit of marketing thrown in. The Business of Being a Writer starts with the principles of building a life-long career as a writer, then moves into coverage of the book publishing industry, magazine publishing, and online publishing—and then how to earn a living from your writing. It is much more broad and all-encompassing.

If all you want to know is how to get your book published, and you don't care one way or the other about earnings, I'd choose Publishing 101.(less)

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da AL
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
T.h.e. B.o.o.k. This is the most up-to-date realistic book on self-publishing -- as well as traditional publishing -- that I have yet to find.
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
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.

Julie Christine
Hands down the best, most comprehensive guide to creating a writing life. Jane Friedman, whose blog is a must-follow for writers, covers the full spectrum of a writing career, from building a platform, to creating a writing life, freelancing, and the publishing industry. I will return to this reference time and again, as a refresher course in marketing and promoting my creative writing, in gaining insights in developing a career as a freelance content writer and editor, and in working with ...more
Erika Dreifus
Superb overview. Keep an eye out for the supplemental resources that will be added around publication to the companion website at
Jennifer Louden
Nov 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
BEST book on the business of writing out there and Jane's website is a national treasure of information for all writers.
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
Leslie Reese
Sep 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: about-writing
I was going to say that I could have used a book like this 30 years ago, but I probably would not have read it then because I had naive and dreamy ideas about art and talent and how much room there was in the marketplace for writers to actually make a good living writing poetry and novels! (deep, heavy sigh here with a trail of sad, rye laughter).

This is an important 21st century reference guide for writers. I chose to read it from start to finish only because it was on loan from the library
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.
Patricia Murphy
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I’m using this text in a graduate class I’m teaching on Literary Publishing. Why didn’t I have this book 20 years ago!? Such a great reference.
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 ...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
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great overview of the business side of the occupation of writing.
Jennifer Spiegel
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio
I never read these type of books. This time, with that old familiar feeling surrounding my recent book--which pretty much TOOK EVERY SINGLE IMPORTANT PART OF ME AND MY INCONSEQUENTIAL LIFE TO WRITE, NEARLY KILLING ME IN THE PROCESS--flatlining in terms of both sales and expectations, I reticently turned to an expert: Jane Friedman.

Even I've heard of her!

She's this writing/publishing guru with columns in great journals and lectures on getting a life and organizations she's founded and sites for
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:
May 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Worth Every Penny! Get This Book!

I learned so much from this book! It really lays down in detail the different paths writers use/can use to make money. It also gives a great foundation for understanding how publishing works nowadays. I didn't know, for example, that Medium isn't making money or how Slate and Salon operate. The book talks in detail about the business of publishing and how it's changing and what it means..... It was sobering to read it. It's very hard for writers to make it all
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
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.
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is the most well-articulated and comprehensive guide to the business of the writer’s life that I have ever read. It’s all here. I will be assigning this in classes from now on. A must-read for anyone navigating the business of a life in writing.
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.
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.
Cheryl Lawson
Nov 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional and well put together guide to turning your writing career into a success. This book is packed with so many insights, tips, etc., that it's hard to keep it all in your head, and a good reason mine is dog-eared, full of pencil underlines and covered in sticky tabs! It's basically a textbook for your writing career - a not-to-be-overlooked/underestimated/ignored textbook.

I highly recommend this informative and super useful book to anyone who has even thought about the prospect of
Jen B. Green
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.
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Had to check out in two chunks, because i was taking so many notes. I'll need to check it out a third time early next year for...reasons :)

Anyway, probably the most valuable book currently on the topic. Thank you Jane!!
Russell Ricard
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Jane Friedman’s The Business of Being a Writer is an authoritative guide to the
ins and outs of the publishing world. The book reads like a volume of essays loaded with a wealth of concrete advice. Tons of business-like how-to strategies coupled with a gracious affect—the tone of someone who genuinely wants to help writers understand the realities of, and to successfully navigate the publishing world.

The book covers everything from traditional, self-publishing, and freelance writing. There are
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,
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
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
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) ...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 ...more
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I've worked for 20 years in the publishing industry and have a special interest in how the digital age is transforming writing careers, publishing, and storytelling. Rather than taking a dark view of how the Internet era has affected writers' livelihoods, I'm more interested in how revolutionary change can inspire new business models, and how authorship will ultimately evolve. I believe history is ...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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