It's undeniable that writing and the publishing industry have vastly changed over the last 20 years. Publishing and media solutions UK group Ribbonfish poignantly wrote on their website:
The publishing industry is no longer restricted to ink and paper; digital technology has a vital role to play in the industry's current and future activities. Publishing companies are now just as likely to be producing, marketing and selling digital forms of fiction and non-fiction, as they are to be printing hard copies of books and magazines.
E-readers and digital copies of books (plus the constant availability of the phone in our pockets) have led to a generation of readers who are able to carry their books on the go without a giant tote bag to store them. While it's a positive thing overall that more people have access to literature and writing than ever before, this can make for a complicated landscape for writers and publishers to navigate through.
Not since the invention of the printing press has there been more of a revolution in the publishing industry. Today, writers and publishers are not only expected to produce their work in a traditional book format, but also for several different types of electronic formats such as EPUB, AZW (the Amazon format), PDF, ODF, and MOBI. Writers and publishers also have the task of marketing the book on social media and getting and keeping the attention of the reader, who now has millions of reading choices available to them at the touch of their fingertips.
Seeing the fast-paced changes in the publishing industry, Jane Friedman—writer, author and publisher strategist, and co-founder of The Hot Sheet (the essential industry newsletter for authors)—decided that there was a need for someone to help authors and publishers make smarter business decisions in this new publishing world. She has dedicated her website, JaneFriedman.com, to advertising her services for querying, book proposals, author website critiques, and more.
Let's take a look at what JaneFriedman.com offers for authors and publishers and take a dive into her blog on insights and tips for the industry.
What services does JaneFriedman.com offer?
Jane Friedman offers a wide range of publishing and digital media strategy services for authors and publishers who are at every stage in their career. All of the work is directly done by Jane herself—she makes it a point to let her potential clients know that she doesn't subcontract or use assistants to do this work (with the exception of administrative tasks that don't directly involve clients)
Query letter and synopsis critiques
A query letter is a formal letter that is sent (typically unsolicited) to magazine editors or literary agents to propose a writing idea. They are written in a very specific format to capture the attention of the person you are writing to in order to sell them on your idea.
Jane Friedman offers critiques on both the query letter as well as synopses that authors write. Jane writes on her website,
If you're preparing queries or synopses for an agent or publisher, I can edit and evaluate your materials and suggest improvements to increase your chances of a response. I can't guarantee you'll get representation or a publishing deal, but I can offer you insight into potential challenges or stumbling blocks in your efforts to get published.
The goal is to have a finalized query and synopsis of your book that is appropriate to send out to an agent or publisher.
Here is how the typical process will go:
- Jane will typically rewrite or revisit a client's query or synopsis.
- She will not write for you, as she can't write in your particular style, but she will make sure that the query is a collaborative effort in order to capture the best qualities of your book.
- She will correct grammar, style, mechanics, and spelling if it is necessary.
- She will apply the necessary formatting that is consistent with book publishing standards.
- Jane can also provide insight and advice on any legal issues raised by your project.
Nonfiction book proposal critiques
Nonfiction book proposals are a completely different ballpark than querying fiction. In order to help you prepare your proposal, Jane Friedman offers nonfiction book proposal critiques that are backed up by her extensive experience working in nonfiction as an editor as well as preparing nonfiction book proposals for her own work. In many cases, authors with little experience with or exposure to book proposals will have missed some of the necessary sections, or they haven't addressed important issues such as competing titles, target market, or the marketing plan.
Here is how the typical process will go:
- Once you have written a proposal, Jane will take a look at it and propose either a phone consultation or a book proposal edit and consult.
- A phone consultation will be one hour on the phone or via Skype to discuss the book proposal. This is frequently recommended if there is a lot of work to do on the proposal. Jane will recommend next steps during the consultation.
- A book proposal edit and consultation will consist of a thorough review and edit of the proposal as well as a follow-up Skype call to discuss the changes that were made.
- If you haven't written a book proposal yet, Jane also offers an online course on book proposals that will allow writers to ask questions about putting one together on your own.
Author website and blog critiques
Authors are expected to not only write well, but also constantly be marketing their product on their website or their blog. If your website needs some work, Jane can assist you in cleaning it up or ensuring that it adheres to best practices such as search engine optimization or mobile device optimization.
Here is what you can expect if you hire Jane for author website or blog critique services:
- First, you will be asked to complete a worksheet to help her understand the history of your website, how you manage it, and what you want to get out of the website in the future.
- After having time to read and review the website, Jane will schedule an appointment to discuss your questions and concerns.
- She will give you a detailed report on your website that will help you improve it based on strategic goals, prioritize your time and make the best use of what you currently have, and help you build a plan for the next stage of your website.
- Additionally, she will help you understand the influence of SEO on your site and help you understand your site's Google Analytics.
- Jane also provides blogging critiques, which includes an overview of blogging strategy, a critique of your social media accounts, how to improve the effectiveness of your online writing, and what it will take to generate more traffic.
Nonfiction book concept review
If you are thinking about entering into the world of nonfiction and you want to test the waters with a book concept, you can send the proposal over to Jane Friedman for a safe place to review and get feedback without too high of stakes. Sometimes you may have a great idea but aren't exactly sure if there is a market or how you can make the book appeal to the masses. The service is fairly affordable (only $200) and will help an author get their feet wet on a new idea.
Before you begin writing your proposal, you can send me your concept for review and advice, and I'll offer written feedback via email. This can potentially save you time and frustration—so that you don't develop a book proposal for a concept that's not likely to be viable or salable.
On the nonfiction book concept review, you can expect the following:
- You will start by filling out a form that asks you to categorize your nonfiction book (memoir/life story, narrative nonfiction, collection of essays, prescriptive, or business). The form will also ask you to write a description of your book, talk about your background as a writer or an author, whether or not you have pitched the idea before, and what you are hoping to learn from the experience of working with Jane on this collaborative concept.
- By the end of the collaborative exchange, the idea is that you will have concrete next steps or a direction—and sometimes that direction is to abandon the project.
What's on Jane Friedman's blog?
In addition to all of the services Jane offers on her website, she also includes a blog where she shares tips and tricks for the author and publishing community. She shares tips on strategic marketing (such as her recent post on an introvert's guide to launching a book), tips on crafting stories (like her post on flashbacks in fiction), as well as tips for productivity (see her post on "staying sane" while publishing).
The posts are regular and they offer so much insight into the ever-changing publishing industry for those in every stage of their careers.