The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman

41uKQpDHmvLIt is difficult to do this book justice in a short review. It is indeed a remarkable and comprehensive aid, especially for those new to the writing world. Note ‘writing world’ rather than authoring because this covers far more than just authoring books though it does of course also deal with that. To clarify it will help to repeat the book’s blurb:

‘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 industry.

The Business of Being a Writer offers the business education writers need but so rarely receive. It is meant for early-career writers looking to develop a realistic set of expectations about making money from their work or for working writers who want a better understanding of the industry. Writers will gain a comprehensive picture of how the publishing world works—from queries and agents to blogging and advertising—and will learn how they can best position themselves for success over the long term.

Jane Friedman has more than twenty years of experience in the publishing industry, with an emphasis on digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is encouraging without sugarcoating, blending years of research with practical advice that will help writers market themselves and maximize their writing-related income. It will leave them empowered, confident, and ready to turn their craft into a career.’

Among the items considered are:

  • How publishing works.
  • Queries.
  • Agents.
  • Blogging.
  • Advertising.
  • Brand building.
  • Social Media.
  • Author platform.
  • Self-publishing.
  • Different types of publications.
  • Obtaining degrees.
  • Job application.
  • Suitable startup employments.
  • Requirements for various positions.
  • Contracts.
  • Legal Issues.
  • Etc. Etc.

There is a lot more but it would be unwieldy to list every item.

This is a book for ALL writers no matter the form they choose: book, journalism, freelance, online, digital, etc. As the blurb makes clear, the primary aim is to look at publishing business principles: trade, traditional and self-publishing. There is also a lot regarding the different avenues a writer may follow. The information provided is clear, complete, honest and realistic.

Jane Friedman not only utilises her own vast knowledge and experience but has also taken hold of all the confusing information floating round and made it understandable and relevant. This really is a great book for the uninitiated. It would also make a good reference book for those already familiar with the publishing and writing world.

For those looking to make a career in the writing/publishing world the author provides helpful details and advice upon how and where to get into the business together with information of what is generally required by each position. There are also details of various resources the reader may find useful.

Some argue this is not really a book for authors because, though it does deal with authoring, the majority of the content concerns business principles and other forms of writing. However, there is a considerable amount within each section from which an author may benefit, gain insight, find assistance and learn. This includes independent authors.

As already mentioned this is a realistic work and without being unnecessarily brutal the author outlines the difficulties and limitations of working in the publishing and writing world however, at the same time, she provides abundant insights and details into how the individual may proceed.

To repeat: it is difficult to do this book justice in a short review. It is a pity, when it comes to books like this, most rating systems are limited to five stars. In a ten star world this would be a twelve plus but to stay within the limitations, there is no question of it being a five star plus (5+*). It is well worth the outlay and represents real value for money. And it is by no means boring. The style is easy without undermining quality. Recommended for all those serious about getting into the writing and publishing industry.

Available in paperback, hardback, digital (e-book), and audio formats.        

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