The Kobo Writing Life team is excited to announce our latest Live Q&A on July 23rd 2020. From 12:00 PM-1:00 PM EST, our takeover guest, Jane Friedman, will be answering all your questions on the Kobo Writing Life Facebook and YouTube pages. If you can’t make the takeover, feel free to comment on this post with your questions and we can ask them for you! Keep reading to learn more about Jane, her industry experience and her work as an editor at The Hot Sheet.
Are you wondering if your next book should be self-published or traditionally published? You’re not alone. The same question is on the minds of many writers I meet, regardless of their career path or how established they are.
When I began working in the publishing industry in the mid-1990s, a stigma surrounded both self-published books and self-published authors. I recall speaking at the Chicago chapter of the Romance Writers of America in the mid-2000s, and running a workshop on how to self-publish. About three people showed up and two of them were already self-published; it was by far the worst-attended session I’ve ever run at a major writing event. At the time, self-publishing was not a well-regarded path to success, and it indicated some kind of author failing or eccentricity.
Times have (dramatically) changed. Many romance authors now self-publish, and traditional publishers in romance are seeing declining sales in mass-market formats, which must compete against indie ebooks. All across the genre fiction community, you’ll find an active and successful group of authors self-publishing.
I’m Jane Friedman, and I 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 on the writers’ side: they’ve been sustaining their careers in ever more innovative ways since the era of Gutenberg. Furthermore, I don’t think that business and art must be at odds—I believe they can inform and push each other to flourish.
I sit at the intersection of several communities, which gives me a 360-degree view of the changes now shaping writing and publishing. People working inside the traditional publishing industry see me as an expert in digital and self-publishing, while independent authors see me as a traditional publishing figure. I would have it no other way; I prefer to serve as a bridge and help people understand facets of the industry they haven’t been exposed to.
There isn’t one right way to publish for everyone, or even for every book. It’s context dependent. That means the right answer can change—even for the same author—from book to book, and from year to year. As for myself, I’ve self-published and traditionally published, and I make a decision based on my business goals for each book.
If you’re not sure which publishing path is best for you or your next project, I’m here to help.
Jane Friedman has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in business strategy for authors and publishers. She’s the editor of The Hot Sheet, the essential industry newsletter for authors, and has previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review. In 2019, Jane was awarded Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World.
Jane’s newest book is The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press); Publishers Weekly said that it is “destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers.” Also, in collaboration with The Authors Guild, she wrote The Authors Guild Guide to Self-Publishing.