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The Business of Being a Writer

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.


“Destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.”

Publishers Weekly

“Friedman’s 20-plus years in the industry, launching and managing the social media presence of Writer’s Digest, along with her expertise in business strategies for authors and publishers, combine to create an invaluable compendium of practical advice with encouragement for aspiring and seasoned writers alike.”

Starred Review | Library Journal

“If you’ve found yourself drowning in the ‘what’s a writer to do?’ platform-creation pool and have no real understanding of how a book gets published, it’s time to discover Jane Friedman. Grab hold; she’s a buoy.”


The Business of Being a Writer provides lucent, sage advice on setting realistic goals toward shaping a rewarding career, going well beyond simply achieving publication or getting an agent. At last, a single book to recommend to writers peering into the vast labyrinth of how to become a successful, professional writer. Thank you, Jane!”

Jeffrey Lependorf, Executive Director, Small Press Distribution and the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses

“While countless books and classes exist to help writers improve their craft, few focus on the practical aspects of maintaining a writing career over time. Friedman’s wise and wide-ranging The Business of Being a Writer offers essential and extremely helpful advice on how writers can survive and thrive in the current publishing landscape.”

Dinty W. Moore, author of The Story Cure

“Every writer needs tough love. Typically that’s delivered by your editor as you’re writing the book. But where’s the tough love once your book is ready for the world? It’s in here and Jane Friedman’s got the goods for you. No one will better help you understand the challenges ahead; no one will offer a more comprehensive approach to scaling the walls. Writers ask me all the questions Jane answers in here. All I need to do now is send them to this book.”

Richard Nash, CEO, Cursor, and former publisher of Soft Skull Press

"An interesting book, chock-full of information that should be discussed in every MFA program in the country and yet doesn’t seem to be."

Teresa Peschel | Peschel Press

Table of Contents


Part One: First Steps: Making a Life as a Writer

1          Can You Make a Living as a Writer?
2          The Art of Career Building
3          Generating Leads, Gaining Exposure
4          Pursuing an MFA or Other Graduate Degree

Part Two: Understanding the Publishing Industry

5          Trade Book Publishing
6          Magazine Publishing
7          Online and Digital Media
8          Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century

Part Three: Getting Published

9          Book Publishing: Figuring Out Where Your Book Fits
10        Understanding Literary Agents
11        Researching Agents and Publishers
12        Book Queries and Synopses
13        The Nonfiction Book Proposal
14        Working with Your Publisher
15        Self-Publishing
16        Publishing Short Stories, Personal Essays, or Poetry
17        Traditional Freelance Writing
18        Online Writing and Blogging

Part Four: The Writer as Entrepreneur: Laying the Foundation

19        Author Platform
20        Your Online Presence: Websites, Social Media, and More
21        Turning Attention into Sales
22        The Basics of Book Launches

Part Five: How Writers Make Money

23        Starting a Freelance Career
24        Freelance Editing and Related Services
25        Teaching and Online Education
26        Contests, Prizes, Grants, Fellowships
27        Crowdfunding and Donations
28        Memberships, Subscriptions, and Paywalls
29        Advertising and Affiliate Income
30        Pursuing a Publishing Career
31        Corporate Media Careers


Appendix 1: Contracts 101
Appendix 2: Legal Issues
Appendix 3: Recommended Resources
Acknowledgments and Credits


An audiobook version is <a href="">available</a>.

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