cover image The Business of Being a Writer

The Business of Being a Writer

Jane Friedman. Univ. of Chicago, $25 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-226-39316-2

Friedman, a publishing veteran and founder of the author newsletter The Hot Sheet and a columnist for PW’s BookLife website, delivers a comprehensive and eminently readable guide that should be on every writer’s desk. While acknowledging John Steinbeck’s observation that “the profession of book writing makes horse racing seem like a solid, stable business,” Friedman adopts an encouraging tone in addressing those interested in making their living, or at least some money, from it, though she is clear in separating the art of writing from the business of publishing. Discussing whether one should attend an MFA program, how different publishing models work, and the ways writers can develop freelance careers, Friedman touches on a wide variety of topics while never compromising the substance of the information. One invaluable section for understanding how the business of publishing works is a discussion of the way publishers determine the costs of publication versus the sales possibilities of a manuscript when considering a title acquisition. (A link to a sample profit and loss sheet is included in the footnotes.) Friedman’s in-depth knowledge of online platforms and publishing is clear as she discusses their benefits and pitfalls. Her volume is destined to become a staple reference book for writers and those interested in publishing careers. (Mar.)