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Non-fiction Book Review: The Business of Being a Writer

Updated: Aug 25, 2020

The Business of Being a Writer

by Jane Friedman

Genre: Non-fiction — Writing Business Guide

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

What is it about?

The Business of Being a Writer offers business education to early-career writers looking to learn about all the ins and outs of forging a career the publishing industry.

Having a been a fan and follower of Jane Friedman’s comprehensive blog for some time, and having modelled my own writing career on her advice, I was intrigued as to what more she could say in her book. Ms Friedman’s blog is so huge and packed full of so much info that it can be quite onerous digging through the archives, so to have her most up-to-date advice neatly packaged in one book is a great help.

I have always appreciated Ms Friedman’s practical approach in articles, vlogs and interviews, which is always delivered in an encouraging tone, and this is true of her book too. She is open about her careful and methodical approach to her long-term writing career and this is how she gears her advice to her readers as well—those who are in the business of writing must be in it to play the long game.

It is quite easy to fall into the thinking that because of today’s fast pace and instant gratification culture that a new writer will end up with a best seller just for being on social media. While this does happen to a lucky few, for the rest of us, there’s a long road ahead that needs consistent work and fine-tuning. The Business of Being A Writer is the perfect tool for a new writer to set themselves up properly with a higher chance of success.

That’s not to say this resource is only for new writers—the last few chapters focus on different avenues that can bring in multiple streams of revenue as a writer. It is a wealth of information that I’m sure even the most seasoned writers will learn a trick or two from.

There are incredibly clear and practical examples in all the chapters from understanding how the publishing industry works, to querying literary agents, to building your author platform and marketing yourself. Like this excerpt, based on Ms Friedman’s own experience, that shows exactly how having wider connectivity with her audience funnels into sales:

  • Attention. A writer searches online for how to get a book published and finds my blog post on the topic.

  • Interest. The writer reads the post and perhaps a few related posts at my site.

  • Decision. The writer sees my book referenced and decides he should read it.

  • Action. The writer makes a purchase on Amazon.

I did read the book cover-to-cover (not in one sitting though) but it is so jam-packed full of info that it’s impossible to absorb it all after only one read. It is very handy for authors to have as they progress through the different stages of their writing journey, to be able to pull out the relevant bits as they are needed. So, if you’re a beginner and you find yourself being overwhelmed by the volume of information in this book, just pick one or two aspects of your career to work on and slowly chip away at it.

This is definitely a resource I recommend having beside your computer if you are a burgeoning author who is planning to be published (self or traditional)!

If you want to hear Ms Friedman talk more about The Business of Being a Writer, check out this video interview with author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel.


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