Money, Writing And Life With Jane Friedman

Jane Friedman transcription
>>JOANNA: Hi everyone, I’m Joanna Penn from, and today I’m here
with Jane Friedman. Hi, Jane!>>JANE: Hello, Joanna!>>JOANNA: It’s great to have you back on
the show. Now, just as an introduction, Jane has spent more than fifteen years in the media
industry as an editor, publisher, and professor. She’s currently the Web Editor of the Virginia
Quarterly Review, based at the University of Virginia, where she also teaches Digital
Publishing and Online Writing. She’s also the Editor of Scratch Magazine, which focuses
on writing and money and life, which we are focusing on today. Jane, you’re just, you’re
everywhere at the moment, and I was saying, does that about cover your background?>>JANE: Yeah, that’s a great, a great whole
summary, absolutely.>>JOANNA: Yeah, you do, you’re a big figure,
I think, in the, in the publishing community these days, so I’m really thrilled to have
you on the show. So, I wanted to sort of start off, um, I, I, er, actually get quite a lot
of personal criticism for my own focus on the business on being an author. Er, you know,
some people think if you talk about business then you must not care so much about the craft
or the language. And they, and people think art and business can’t go together. So,
why do you think there’s such an issue with money and art, and why did you start Scratch
because of it?>>JANE: Yeah, yeah, I would say, it’s, it’s
interesting we’re starting with this question, because I guest spoke on it at a conference
over the weekend, um, about the historical perspectives on money and art, um, and business
and writing, and, you know, I did a really deep dive into some of our cultural attitudes
towards art and business. And our thinking on this issue goes back a few hundred years,
um, so it’s kind of like, there’s this like engrained idea in the culture that the
two things, um, are antithetical to each other. And, that idea was invented: it was invented
by someone who was frustrated with his sales and felt like the only way to rescue his art
was to say that it was superior because that it didn’t sell! Um, so, like, and we’ve had that idea ever
since: this myth of the starving artist, that to, you know, keep our art pristine and to
preserve this, this value to it, that we can’t pay attention to the marketplace. And, um,
what, I recently read a book by Elizabeth Hyde Stevens, um, she did this book called
“Make Art Make Money,” which focuses on some of the lessons we can learn coming out
of Jim Henson’s life, the great, um, artist and puppeteer, and how he, you know, balanced
these two sides and didn’t see them as opposed: that he saw how to make business serve art,
and how, you know, and he could use it as a way to, to fulfill his artistic vision.
Um, it’s not that he was, um, pandering or selling out, um, but he knew how to use
the system to his own purposes. And so I think it’s horrible that any writer
or artist should be criticized for operating in the realities of the marketplace. I mean,
certainly, um, there are people who, um, do totally pander, and, you know, everyone has
to make certain sacrifices to go to the next level, um, but it’s totally ignoring, um,
the inter-relation of these two things and how art has often thrived because of the support
of business and patrons, or sales. I mean, this has, this has been a relationship that
goes back for a very long time, and it doesn’t, art can’t operate in a vacuum; I’m not
sure why they ever thought it could, um, or that it should, or that it was somehow superior
for it to do so. Um, I think the tension that results is actually
quite healthy, you know: we need a little bit of a, of that, er, fence, a little bit
of that, um, challenge, to, to, you know, push us to do better, to go further, to think
creatively. So, I see it, I don’t, you know, I’m, I’m, it strikes me that sometimes
when I talk about these issues, I, I don’t’ want to sound like strident, like I don’t
take it really, really seriously, like I’m sincere about advocating that writers think
about the art and the business as something that can successfully play together, um, but
I’m not like saying, “You’re wrong” if you can’t be a businessperson. It’s,
it’s more about being open to the possibility that these things can work together.>>JOANNA: Mm. Well, for me, I, I feel very
passionate, I, I have a lot of young women in my life, my nieces and my, you know, and
my god-daughter, and they’re being, they’re at the stage where they’re being told, you
know, “You have to get, you have to do the certain courses, so you can get a proper job,”
and I feel like one of my driving forces is I want to prove that being an artist, being
a creative and a writer, is a, in quotes, ‘proper job’ that parents can feel happy
that their children to go into. But in order to do that, you have to be able to pay your
bills, right?>>JANE: Yes. Yes, you do. And, you know, a
lot of people want to know, “At what point can I, like, just focus on the writing, or
not have to worry about the day job, or kind of let go of some of the realities of life?”
and that’s a very hard question to answer, because I think it’s so personality-driven,
and what kind of sacrifices you’re able to make, some of your personal circumstances,
if you have family members to support and take care of, there are so many factors that
play into the decision and, and what, um, kind of stamina you have in your acceptance
of risk. I think it’s definitely possible to be an
artist and an entrepreneur and to, um, not have the so-called day job, but there’s
also quite a bit of work and persistence that goes into reaching the level where you, where
you feel a little bit, let’s say, I don’t want to say comfortable, exactly, but you
don’t feel like anxious all the time about where the next pay check’s going to come
from. So, um, risk tolerance is really important,
as well as just having some patience, um, for what work you are putting in to the whole
process to, to pay off. I think sometimes, this is the difficulty that every writer faces,
is that they want results now, or financially they need to have the results now, and I’ve
found over and over again, it’s not something you can necessarily force; it’s not at your
command, um, and you, and there’s quite a bit of faith that goes into it. And in fact,
the last issue of Scratch, my, my magazine on writing and money, that, the theme is faith:
the faith that the work that you put in is actually going to pay off in the long run,
financially or otherwise.>>JOANNA: Yeah, and that’s exactly right.
And one of the things I did when I was going to give up my job, which I did nearly three
years ago now, is I, we sold everything. We completely downsized our life, we sold our
house, so we don’t have any debt, we sold, we don’t have a car, you know, we completely
downsized, and that really took the pressure off, which meant I.>>JANE: Yeah, exactly.>>JOANNA: I could earn less money, and I do
earn significantly less money now, but I’m so much happier!>>JANE: Right, exactly, so there are trade-offs
that you’ve made, the so-called sacrifices, and, um, everyone has to look at their own
lifestyle requirements, and, and see what, what’s really possible.>>JOANNA: Yeah. And it was really interesting,
again, in, in Scratch, you interviewed, well, your, your editor-partner interviewed Cheryl
Strayed, who wrote “Wild,” whi-, brilliant book, obviously, um, and I, I just, I’ve
got a quote here, um, “Writing is a terrible way to make a living when it comes to the
stat- the statistical chances that you will make a living, um, but if you can make a living
at it, there’s a sort of poetry to how it works.” So I wondered, you know, and she
talks about her credit card debt and, and, and how a six, a multi-six-figure advance,
can disappear! Um, you know, with all the, you know, it’s a brilliant article. But
I wondered if you could maybe talk about what are some of the business models that authors
can have, er, in this, in this new world, I guess?>>JANE: Well, I mean, the traditional, old-fashioned
model is strictly book sales, um, and everyone thinks that there was probably some golden
era where authors made a living off of sales. Um, if you look back, that’s not necessarily
true, um: even authors like Mark Twain or Charles Dickens, who were quite successful
by the standards of the day, often made more money on things like lectures and readings
and appearances and serials and things of that nature. Um, so, I mean, part of this
depends on the genre or the community that you’re in, like if you’re a genre writer
versus a literary writer, but I think, especially on the literary side, the, the prevailing
model is teaching, and doing things really into educating other writers. Um, which is
in fact becoming a little more difficult, because of the glut of, of MFA students being
produced, that’s a, a whole other problem that we could talk about! Um, and then on the, like the genre side,
there’s still that education component, being a teacher, and, but what I’ve been
seeing that’s really interesting is probably on the non-fiction and journalism side, we’re
seeing subscription and membership models, um, whether it’s a blogger or someone who’s
running a full-fledged site or community, having some kind of wall where you’re paying
for access. Or, it’s kind of like this positive paywall, um, where you get a lot of your experience
for free, but if you’re really devoted, like, uber-fan, then you’re going to have
to pay some kind of fee to like get community board access or get special privileges, or
be able to email the person, um, behind the scenes who’s running the site. So, those are some other interesting ways,
partic, more probably applicable to non-fiction, um, but certainly I think something that you’ve
participated in lately is very interesting: the, um, the collective, the Deadbeat Dozen
release, and I think there’s some really interesting opportunities that haven’t fully
been explored in how authors can form collectives and do work together to bring a greater audience
to everybody. Um, I’m really interested in, in seeing where that goes, and, er, alternate
models. I think that->>JOANNA: Sorry, what I was thinking in that,
the collaboration model is almost the only way to become more scalable. So I’m doing
a 50-50 royalty share with, with translators who are also going to be marketing partners,
so I don’t have to do any more, you know, writing work, I can help them with marketing
and we both make 50%, which takes one book and exploits the rights. So I see that as,
like you’re saying, a collaboration kind of model.>>JANE: Right, exactly. So, trying to look
at the big picture level, on the big picture level, there’s the collaboration, there’s
the, the readers that pay you, there’s, um, crowd funding, where readers and other
kind of passers-by, patrons, and that patron might be a wealthy person who really believes
in what you’re doing, or, um, non-profits or government agencies. I know especially
in Canada–I don’t know if the same is true in the UK–but in Canada, I know there’s
a very, um, there’s more of an environment there where as a writer or artist, you can
expect more assistance, um, than you can in the United States. Um, so there, there are lots of different
ways to go about it, and I think probably at the moment, it’s best to diversify. Like,
I would never recommend someone focus on one to the exclusion of all others: you kind of
have to, usually, put together a collection of these things, especially earlier in your
career. I think that the longer you stick with it, the more freedom you have to say,
to shut some doors and say, “I’m only going to focus on this.”>>JOANNA: Mm. And I’ll tell you what, I
think there’s some problems that need to be solved, and you, you have these “Big
Question” blog posts that you – “Smart Set,” that’s what you call them – which
are great. And one of, one of my big questions that I want to see happening is, um, you know
like ACX is, er, will do the royalty distribution? That’s what’s missing in these collaborative
deals. So with the Deadly Dozen, we needed to have somebody else to collect the money
and distribute the money for, you know: with ACX does that, with my translators, I, I realized
I have to do that, and I’m not happy about it. I actually want to pay an agent or some
middle man to do that kind of distribution of royalty for less money than a publisher,
basically. And, and I see that as, that piece in the puzzle is the thing that’s missing
to allow more authors to do this. I mean, I would be doing more of this, if there was
an easier way to split the money, basically.>>JANE: Right, right, I totally hear you,
which is why I, I have a lot of interest in the collective idea, because if they’re,
if they’re, providing the administrated, yeah, the administration behind what you’re
talking about, um, for a, a more reasonable fee than a publisher, for sure, and maybe
even an agent. Although I wonder if agents aren’t going to be more helpful in that
as time goes on: I guess we’ll see.>>JOANNA: Mm, but yeah, I see that as like
a role like that companies starting in that niche, I think could do potentially very well,
you know, just to clip the ticket on the way through and manage all that. That, you know,
could really change things.>>JANE: Yeah, yeah, I agree.>>JOANNA: And as you’ve said, I think that’s
starting to happen. Now, one of the, one of the things, I guess, as well, is, um, that
you, you know, you’re aware of many of the people in this space who are doing very well.
I wonder, what do you see as the commonalities, um, between authors who are kind, who are
making, let’s say, over 100,000 US a year, like, like what are those people doing?>>JANE: At the moment–this is very trend-driven,
I want to point out–um, they tend to be quite prolific, um, they’re producing a
lot of work, and I don’t mean necessarily books, it could also be, it can be a combination
of books and blog posts and classes and social media activity, and, like – it’s the omnipresent
feeling, like they’re everywhere at once, you, you wonder how they can produce so much
work. Um, so there, there’s that. I think they are also very consistent in what
they’re producing. They’re very focused on serving a particular readership or community,
um, and they’ve usually been in it for quite a while, because it takes, to reach six figures,
that’s an engine that’s taken a long time to build, um, so unless you’re like one
of these overnight successes–which I actually don’t believe in–um, you’ve probably
had a run-up of a decade or more to that type of income. And I think that also that income entails
usually, um, a lot of insight into who you’re reaching and how, like on a numbers level,
like through analytics and, and an in-depth insight into who’s buying your stuff, and
how to get them to buy the next thing, whatever that is.>>JOANNA: Mm, no, it’s, it’s great you
say that, I, I agree, I think, you know, I met Barbara Freethy at the, um, London Book
Fair, and I think she really struck me, because she’s just such a kind of nice, quiet, normal
lady, you know, what a good, you know, good businesswoman, but the fact is, she has thirty-eight
books and she’s been writing for twenty years, so it does, you know–if you actually
do the math, at thirty-eight books, you don’t, you only have to sell, you know, 500 or so
a month, in order, of each of those books, and you do make a lot of money.>>JANE: Exactly.>>JOANNA: So you do, and it’s so funny,
because the penny dropped for me: it was like, “Oh this is how publishers are so rich:
this is why publishing has been a great business!” It’s like, “Ding!” Because I don’t
think you get that perspective when you only have a couple of books, right? You can’t
see it.>>JANE: That’s true.>>JOANNA: You can’t see it. And then that,
once you understand how publishing does make so much money, you know, you can see how you
could do it, too!>>JANE: Right, yes, to become an almost like
a small press.>>JOANNA: Yes, basically. It’s so interesting.
But I, I wondered, you know, so if people, people list, some people listening will be
going, “Oh, wow, that sounds so exciting,” and other people will be going, “Oh my goodness,
that’s just way, way, way too much for me,” you know. How do people, if people want to
go this route, you know, how do people transition from being an author, say, with one or two
books, to running a business as an author?>>JANE: Uh-huh. Sometimes I think you recognize
the change once it’s time to switch gears. Um, and by that I mean that you suddenly realize
that you’re turning a profit! Um, which may, I mean, for most writers, that doesn’t
happen for quite some time, where you’re actually, your expenses, um, are below what
your income is, for the writing itself. Um, when you realize that you have to start
saying no. I think that’s a major turning point for a lot of people, because, especially
earlier in your career, you, you want more opportunities, and you’re probably also
trained to say yes, accept everything, get all the exposure you can, right, for free,
etc. And then you realize, “Oh, I can’t do that anymore,” because the number of
quality opportunities, or the number, the amount of money you can make doing your own
thing outweighs the lesser request or opportunities. So I think that’s also a critical juncture. Realizing when you might actually have enough
money to hire assistance, even if that’s just, um, like
a Virtual Assistant, because you realize that one or two hours of time, you have more earning
potential in that time than, say, tackling your email inbox. Um, so I think those are
signs that you need to start thinking a little more strategically, and you also need to,
like, set up quart – I hate to say it – quarterly income and expense spreadsheets, um, and start
tracking the growth, and being very strategic about, “OK, in the last six months, um,
I got more money from X than Y. Why is that and how am I going to change what I’m going
to do in the next six months as a result?” Um, I think that sort of strategic thinking
is overwhelming and is probably too much for the person who writes, who at the moment may
only have one or two books, like that’s, that’s like, “How will I ever reach that?”
So I think it’s kind of like a one- you have to take a, like, Egremont says, a bird
by bird, book by book, step by step: you don’t want to try and, like, master that right out
of the gate. I think there’s an overwhelming momentum that you reach, and you realize,
“OK, it’s time, this is, I need to be smarter with, with how I’m prioritizing
my work”.>>JOANNA: Mm, yeah, I’m going through all
that sort of right now. I, I really feel, you know, at that point, and, er, I’m going
to write another book about it, I think, because you, you know, I think like many writers,
like yourself as well, you actually work things out when you write about, about it!>>JANE: Totally!>>JOANNA: So almost like, I don’t know what
I think until I’ve written it.>>JANE: Yes.>>JOANNA: Which is kind of crazy. Now, you
mentioned, like, you know, profits spreadsheets there, and I did want to, um, you know because
the, um, and I did say this to someone the other day; I said, “What’s your profit,”
no I said, “What’s your P&L on, on that book?” and she went, “What, what are you
talking about?” So you actually have a P&L in Scratch, you go through one. I wondered
if you would, um, explain a kind of overview of what that is, from obviously, that was
from a traditional perspective, but also how people can assess that themselves.>>JANE: Yeah, so in Scratch, we ran this Profit
and Loss Statement that a traditional publisher would use, but an independent author could
totally use it, um, and what it does is it calculates up front, “OK, what are all my
expenses going to be, I work on a freelance basis,” and then on, um, like a unit cost,
if you’re doing print books, or if you have ISBN costs and those sorts of things; you
build in all of the costs up front, estimated and actual. And, you can even put your hourly
rate in there, if you want to like, you know, like pay yourself an hourly rate. And then,
you have to do some sales estimates, and hopefully you can do that based on, er, a historical
perspective of what the last book did, or talking with other people, what their experience
has been, if they’re willing to be transparent about it. And so then you plug in the sales
numbers, and you also calculate, you know, the discount that the retailer’s getting,
and then you see, “OK, how much money am I going to make in, say the first year of
sales?” And then you can also run it for longer: you
can run it for two years, or five years, or ten years, to get a, an idea of what’s the
potential for this book. And then it, what’s really interesting, I think, if, if, you,
in publishing we would call it a season P&L, where you would take all of the books that
you were going to publish in a specific season, that might be ten books or a hundred, and
then you look at the bigger picture, because then you put all of your low-profit books
with your high-profit books, and you see if you’re hitting the right target. So, an author could do that with all of the
books they have planned to release in like a three-to-five-year period, um, kind of the
more, um, projects maybe you know won’t sell as well against the projects that are
a little more, um, catering to your readers, or to your market, that you know will, and
then see what the overall picture is.>>JOANNA: Yeah, that, that’s a really good
idea, and I especially like the three-to-five-year idea or the ten-year idea, because of course
people, like you say, people want money right now, um, and the fact is, the great thing
about self-publishing is, you get to make a little bit of money every, hopefully every
month, for a long time, rather than getting a smaller, er, a smaller, a bigger spike,
and then potentially never seeing anything else. I mean, do, do you think that one of
the biggest issues is the short-term thinking in, across all publishers?>>JANE: Totally a hundred percent agree: short-term
thinking is one of the greatest banes of any company, publisher, author’s existence.
Everyone is so focused on, “Can I get this to pay off in two weeks, or two months, or
even two years?” and I try to emphasize in all of my talks and blog posts, like, it
took a long time, even for me, like, and I feel like, you know, I kind of do things alright,
like it takes me a while to get the hang of it, but, you know, it takes two years, three
years, four years, before things gain steam and I really feel a little more comfortable
or have some mastery where it, I can actually say, “Alright, what are the results?” People seem to have a lack of patience and
stamina, so it’s, to some degree, um, and they’re not willing to, to let things play
out, and that’s why I also emphasize sustainability in whatever you’re doing. Like, you don’t
want to burn out in, in the first year, um, going down a checklist of social media activities
or whatever it happens to be, because someone told you to without any, um, recognition of
what it is you can actually en-enjoy or do, regularly, but that so it does, you know,
amount to something after three or five years of doing it, and that you can feel like you
can point back and say that was meaningful work, that was a good journey and I learned
something, regardless of the results. So.>>JOANNA: Mm, yeah, and I really feel that,
too. I feel in the last year I’ve relaxed a lot more around, like, launch, like I put
out a book this week, and I’m kind of not even, you know, making a fuss about it. I’ve
sent an email to my list, I’m, you know, I only just started tweeting like, just before
we started speaking, and, like I’m just not that bothered anymore about the initial
bit: it’s just another thing in, you know, in the body of work, as such.>>JANE: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, you’re
in it for the long game; I’m in it for the long game, so I don’t have to be so, like
anxious about like, “Did I achieve the sales goal in the first year?” because I’m going
to keep doing it, and I know that time is on my side.>>JOANNA: Yeah, and I, I wondered about that.
Do you think it’s partly the fault of big publishers who have kind of sold a dream,
and there’s been this, this kind of veil of secrecy over the reality of sales, um,
it, it, do you think that that dream has now disintegrated?>>JANE: I wish it would disintegrate a little
more! Um, I like to call it the Myth, and I don’t use that as like a, a judgmental
word, but as a Joseph Campbell Myth. Like, the myth of the published author who produces
this book and that, er, that, that’s when your life, your writing life becomes sustainable,
um, when you get that contract from a publisher, and it releases- by far, the most disappointed
authors I meet are the ones who’ve just had their first book release, and they, they’re
like, “That’s it, there’s nothing?” Like uh-oh! Um, and they don’t, I mean, certainly your
first book is cause for celebration: you, like, at every step of the way, you should
be celebrating these milestones, but like, that’s just the beginning, that’s like
the first, very first step, er, into a much larger career. So, and I think publishers,
in whatever way it is, they’ve been reticent or secretive or just kind of, I don’t know,
ignorant, of not like sharing the realities, I don’t think they’ve helped themselves,
because it also creates this antagonism, like the disappointed authors, or the authors with
the incorrect expectations, so of course their fury or their disappointment’s going to
be directed at their publisher, in many cases. So I don’t think it benefits the publishers,
to be anything except up, upfront about what’s going to happen. And maybe some are, and authors
just don’t hear it, you know, they have on their rose-colored glasses and they don’t
actually hear the conversation in honest terms, because they think, “Well, I’m the exception,”
like all authors think that. “My book will be different. I’ll get on the bestseller
list. I will make a living.” So, I, I guess there’s plenty of blame to go around, for
the Myth.>>JOANNA: Yeah, and it’s funny, because
I, I had a drink with an editor from a publishing house, and she actually said–I asked her,
like I was showing her pictures of the portal, you know, the KDP, you know, I can see my
sales, and she said, “Well, we, we can’t do that with our authors, because they’re,
they don’t want to see the reality of their daily sales.” The fact is, most books do
sell very few copies a day, right? You know, they really do.>>JANE: Very few, very few, yeah. Um, having
worked at a mid-size publisher, yeah, I mean, I saw the sales reports and I knew exactly
what the expectations were, but yeah, there was totally this, um, cultural reticence,
and also, like, rules that you shouldn’t share specific sales numbers, because of the
trouble that could cause. Um, and, it, I just always found it very unproductive, all around.
Um, I felt like if you could have a very transparent, authentic conversation with an author, with,
within the environment of a relationship that you’ve already established, like between
the editor and the author or the agent, editor and author, and talking about the full context
of how it’s, how we’ve come to this point, why the sales are this way, I think that’s
very, very good. But most publishers just, they don’t take the time or they, they’ve
been burned one too many times, so.>>JOANNA: Yeah, and I want people to feel
good about that: the reason why I bring it up is because it’s the, it’s the reality:
most books sell very few copies every day, whether you’re indie published or traditionally
published, but hopefully, you, that continues for a long time, you know, that’s kind of
the, that is the business model, you know, small over time.>>JANE: Right, and I hope that publishing,
the traditional publishing, I hope it gets away from this launch mentality. I think slowly
we’re getting away from that. I mean, I think the independent authors have been so
good at pointing out to the larger community that, you know, “Let’s not focus on the
first three months or six months, because the real potential is over the, over the career.”
But publishers, you know, have traditionally been so terrible at backlist marketing, and
just going on to the next season, that they’re not capitalizing on kind of the riches of
the backlist. There, there are some exceptions to that, but I think they also have to change
gears, and, because in, you know, in the digital, in the digital era, you know, every book can
be new, um, regardless of how old it is at the moment it’s discovered.>>JOANNA: Mm, absolutely. And I guess, you
know, we mentioned a little bit about rights before. Um, what, what are some of the things
that you’re seeing now? I mean, a lot of people are now doing Germany: it does seem
to be, you know, the next thing, um, I’m, I’ve got my first book in German coming
out in a couple of weeks, and I, I hear a lot of indies now talking about that. And
obviously audio is just starting, it’s just hit the UK with ACX. What, what are some of
the rights that you see, the rights exploitation, the other opportunities for indies that are
coming up now?>>JANE: Um, you’ve hit on two of the biggest,
so the audio, which has, I mean, article after article in the mainstream media has pointed
to the immense growth in that sector. So, I think it’s a missed opportunity if people
aren’t looking at that. And then, the translation rights, because all of the other countries
in the world are catching up still to, to the US and to the UK in e-book sales, and
there is, there’s a lot of, I think, I don’t know, you will know better than I, probably,
if it’s, if it’s the iBooks store now that has some of the, some of the impressive
growth internationally. I think Kobo, too, um, in Canada and elsewhere, because it has,
it has the Japanese corporation behind it, so it has that good international footprint. Um, I think what most worries me, and one
of the reasons Scratch was started, was to help authors be a little more aware of the
long-term picture, um, financial picture for books in terms of their contracts, because
a lot of traditional publishers are really tightening up the terms, and making it harder
for authors to walk away, and I wish that the contracts were a little more—this is
probably hoping for the impossible—a little more cognizant that the environment’s rapidly
changing and that, you know, that a contract that’s set for a particular time limit,
like three or five years—especially if it’s e-book only—I think that’s, I think that’s
more fair, and is, is better for everybody to be able to re-evaluate whether that relationship
or partnership should continue. Um, but we’re not anywhere close to that, I think.>>JOANNA: Yeah, no, you’re right, and, um,
it, it’s so interesting to, to be kind of in this space and knowing what you’re doing,
and I get so frustrated when authors don’t even read—there’s a great book by Kathryn
Rusch, Kristine Kathryn Rusch->>JANE: Yes.>>JOANNA: “Contract”, um, “Contract
Terms to Avoid,” or something like that, and it’s very clear in there what you should
not sign!>>JANE: Yes, yes. Every, every author needs,
like I feel like there’s no excuse, you like need to know how to protect yourself.
And then for other opportunities, going back to your original question, like, there’s
so much happening that’s interesting on the serialization side, not just with Wattpad
but just in general, so it would, I think, um, I, I, we’re going to see a huge growth
in mobile reading, um, it just seems inevitable, so I think authors need to be keeping an eye
on what services or platforms or opportunities are coming along to capitalize on mobile-based
reading, because we haven’t even scraped the surface of that. Um, and Wattpad, I think that’s 75% mobile-based
reading, and that’s of course a community of predominantly young people, so, I’m just
very curious to see how that evolves, because I think it’s going to be one of the next
great things for all types of authors, being able to, to deliver their work in a more,
um, appropriate way for, for that, for mobile devices.>>JOANNA: Mm, no, I totally agree with you.
And, and just on the future of reading, I guess, mobile’s obviously one of the big
things, but we’ve seen that, um, that scanning app, that fast reading app, I think, I can’t
remember what that’s called, actually, but there’s that, and there’s->>JANE: I can’t remember what that’s called.>>JOANNA: Yeah, and then there’s Google
Glass, which is really interesting, because it’s that kind of voice, you know, heads-up
display on things. You know, do you see this kind of technology changing the way we read?>>JANE: I don’t know. It’s like, I feel
like the, the one word at a time going really fast to increase your words per minute, that
feels, that feels so goal-driven, like, so, um, um, like you don’t enjoy the reading
as much. I may be being very old-fashioned in thinking that, but it seems to me like—on
the other hand, it, when I tried that out, it kept me very focused, like there was no
way I could, like go play Candycrush while reading, if I was in that app. Um, I, I think,
there’s, it does feel, like, very far out to me as far as the immediate opportunity
is. I’m thinking predominantly of app-based
reading, um. In the US, I don’t know if this is in the UK yet, but Wooster, er, it
may be just iPhone based, it may be for the Android too, a way to read literature in serialized
form. Um, and then, I feel like there’s another one that I’m missing. Um, Juke Pop
Serials, I can’t remember if they’re app-based, but there are some of these interesting offerings
out there that some writers are either welcomed in, just no gates at all, you can give it
a try, or you have to kind of get through some kind of submissions process. So, at least, speaking from personal experience,
when I’ve read fiction, or non-fiction, on my phone, it’s usually through an app,
so I think, that’s why I’m really focused on what apps are being developed that are
going to be helpful in that way.>>JOANNA: Yeah, absolutely. I read a lot on
my iPhone, on the Kindle app, it’s, you know. You think you never will, and then you
start, and then it doesn’t make any difference!>>JANE: Right, right.>>JOANNA: It’s kind of crazy. Well, anyway,
tell us a bit more about Scratch magazine and what people can find there.>>JANE: Yeah, so it’s a quarterly publication,
and we’ve had three full issues. One’s totally free, if you go back to our Fall 2013
issue, you can kind of get the whole experience and get an idea of what it’s about. And
then we have a January and an April issue out this year. So, we always have a feature
interview with, um, a big name writer. So Cheryl Strayed, as you mentioned, is in the
most recent issue, and then we, and then I usually do an, an industry-themed interview
with someone you may not have heard of, but has a lot of prominence somewhere in publishing.
And then we do a couple of personal essays each issue, from people talking about the
intersection of writing, money and life. Um, we do a round table, er, that has a theme,
so we’ve done web editors, um, creative writing professors, and what was the other
one?>>JOANNA: Agents.>>JANE: Yeah, literary agents.>>JOANNA: That was a great one, yeah.>>JANE: Um, and then we usually fill it out
with some kind of hard-nosed business stuff, so I always do a contracts piece, um, we had
the P&L piece in the recent issue. I like to try and explore one trend really in depth
and talk to a lot of different people about it, so, er, last issue, I focused on serials,
which is why I’m kind of gung-ho on that after exploring, um, that field. So, yeah,
we try, we try to have a balance of what I would call, um, the “life” side, um, how
these issues can be very personal, um, and we develop attitudes to writing and money,
and then also things that are very practical and try to advance people’s understand of
the economics.>>JOANNA: Mm, no, and it’s fantastic, and
I urge anyone who’s interested in, in business, the business side of being an author, to check
it out, even if you don’t want to be like a full-time author, it’s really brilliant
for, for learning new stuff. I, I really enjoy it. And I read it on the app, as well.>>JANE: Yes, the app, you can read it on the
app, or website, or if you want, we have a pdf, an epub edition, for people who prefer
that.>>JOANNA: Yeah, and it, just tell people how
much it is.>>JANE: Oh, it’s $20 per year. A bargain!>>JOANNA: It is, it’s ridiculous! It’s
crazy for the amount of work you guys do: it’s amazing. So, thank you for all the
work you do, I, I really appreciate it.>>JANE: Thank you.>>JOANNA: And everything you put out, I mean,
it’s great: your blog, you know, you really do offer, I think, a lot to authors, um, which
is just fantastic.>>JANE: Thank you. As do you! Um, to, to speak
about consistency, which we touched on before, I mean, you’ve been consistently producing
these interviews in multiple formats for several years now, I think->>JOANNA: Yeah, four years, it’s crazy!>>JANE: Yeah, yes, and like, I’m sure you
would say that has had immense benefit, even though you’re giving away the content for
free. Or this form of the content.>>JOANNA: Yeah, no, absolutely. And, I mean,
we didn’t even have time to touch on platform, but I know, I know you have also been doing
it for years, so, you know, I think when you’re a writer, like we are, it is easy in a way
to want to do this as well, so, you know, it’s a good, good time. So, tell people
your website and where they can find Scratch Mag online.>>JANE: Yeah, um, I’m at,
and you can find my blog there as well, like, as my huge archive of writing advice. And
I have a little parody on the future of publishing, if anyone wants a good laugh. Um, and then
Scratch Magazine is at, um, and we have a blog, too, if you go to, so either way, you’ll get there.>>JOANNA: Brilliant. Thanks so much for your
time, Jane, that was great.>>JANE: Thank you.

6 thoughts on “Money, Writing And Life With Jane Friedman

  1. Amusing that writers would spend hours researching some fine point of their work, but not check the terms and conditions of contracts. Great advice ladies!

  2. I agree in supporting one another, I am willing to review and rate authors books, I just ask that they return the favor….rating helps

  3. Great compliment for this blog! I'm an Italian SelfPublisher, and I have write this book, now i'm translate in english, do you know an American agent for develop it there?

  4. ty for this! It is amazing the amount of videos you have. Really encourages me after having a headache of information overload.  cant wait to get my own book out there & read yours as well.  Pentecost looks awesome!

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