Saturday, February 22, 2014

Jane Friedman: The Future Of Authorship

Jane outside
Jane (left, on the big screen) on the panel

Jane Friedman has spent over fifteen years in the publishing industry as an editor, publisher, and professor. Currently she serves as the web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia, where she also teaches digital publishing and online writing. Her newest digital media initiative is Scratch Magazine (, a quarterly magazine all about the intersection of writing and money. Jane was also the publisher of Writer’s Digest, and her expertise on the transformation of the publishing industry has been featured throughout many events and media, including NPR’s Morning Edition, Frankfurt Book Fair, Publishers Weekly, SXSW, and Nieman Journalism Lab.

Her opening statement on the panel reflects on how much has changed in the last fifteen years, saying,

"Now that everyone can publish, everyone does publish."

She raises important questions:

How is work discovered - and what's the role of companies like Apple, Google and Facebook who control how people reach each other?

What should be/will be publishers' role?


How do author careers get made?

On creating author platforms, Jane advises it should be organic, slow and about connecting with readers.

"Platform grows out of your body of work."

The panel discusses how the the bad rap of self-publishing "has disappeared or is rapidly disappearing" - that's a quote from Paul Aiken, executive director of the Author's Guild (which now accept self-published authors as members.)

Jane suggests there can be an experimental approach, with self-publishing mirroring technology startups - it doesn't have to be perfect the first time. And she referenced Abbi Glines' story that Abbi just shared on the panel of how her "The Vincent Brothers" (one of her first self-published books) wasn't as good in that initial launch, and when it was acquired for traditional publishing (Simon Pulse) she went back and spent a year to fix the book. She became a better writer and built her following as she kept writing and publishing.

The panel discusses niche markets, marketing, and what authors have to weigh between self-publishing and traditional publishing - it's a fascinating discussion!

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