First things first. Because nothing is ever easy in life, there are (at least) two Jane Friedman’s in the publishing world. One Jane is the CEO of Open Road. This post concerns the other Jane, who is the CEO of herself, and formidably so.
Back about five or six years ago, when the self-publishing craze blew up and all the hand-wringing inside publishing turned into shrieking and wailing in the streets, one of the people I ran across on the interweb was Jane Friedman, then at Writer’s Digest. While ably fulfilling her contractual duties Jane struck me as someone who didn’t just have a job, but genuinely enjoyed — and more importantly, was interested in — her line of work. When she later departed WD I was glad to see her hang out her own shingle and keep moving with the times, because I thought she had a lot to offer both new and veteran writers who were struggling to understand the rapidly shifting publiscape.
Flash forward half a decade and I just ran across the most recent iteration of Jane’s site, and I think you should stop by yourself. I don’t know Jane personally and I can’t vouch for her in any professional context, but one of the things I’ve learned over the years is that there’s a lot to be said for people who stick with their interests no matter what else might be happening. In a world — and particularly a disingenuous online universe — where everyone is always racing off to the next shiny object or embracing the latest transactional fad (or fraud), I think it’s worth paying attention to people who seem immune to such influences.
Jane’s blog is here, and if you’re interested in publishing, self-publishing, and how authors are transitioning between and navigating the two, you won’t be disappointed. Having been in a cave since 2010 I’m happy to have years of back posts to read through, and I’ve already found one or two that were genuinely informative.
Too, not only does Jane post regularly, but she maintains a presence on her site, which is also quite rare given the usual online advice about branding, social networking and becoming a micro-celebrity. For example, not only do I agree with just about everything she had to say in this recent post — yet another rarity, albeit largely because I’m a crank — but one of the few concerns I did have was mentioned in the comments, to which Jane herself replied. The only point I might add is to make your website mobile-responsive, as Jane’s site already is. Not only are most people using smartphones these days, meaning they’re looking at your content in a very small window, but in a few weeks Google is going to start factoring mobile-responsive web design into its page rankings.
(Don’t have a mobile-responsive site? Don’t panic. Anyone searching for your name or the title of one of your books will still have little or no trouble finding you on the first page of search hits. It’s just something to keep in mind when you’re putting up a site or doing a refresh.)
— Mark Barrett