The lines have blurred recently in publishing, and the consequences for authors are considerable. Blurring lines means the freedom to move beyond once heavily-constricted roles: authors today also act as publishers and distributors of their works. Blurring lines can mean confusion, too: vendors vying for attention and business from authors don’t always make it easy to see the value of their services.
With a personal mission to educate authors about the publishing industry (without, she says, either drama or hype), Jane Friedman aims to help authors make the best long-term decisions for their careers. Her recent column for Publishers Weekly looked to sort out the growing family of “hybrid” publishers; she tells CCC’s Chris Kenneally “there’s still a lot of education that needs to take place” when it comes to what lies between self-publishing and traditional publishing houses.
“Ten years ago, you had to repeat again and again that self-publishing wasn’t going to harm your career. Now I feel like we’ve reached the other end of the extreme, where people aren’t even considering traditional publishing. They’re straightaway going to these self-publishing or hybrid options,” Friedman notes.
“Self-publishing is a viable option, but you need to commit to it from a professional standpoint, not just as a stopgap measure or as something that’s going to give you instant gratification,” she suggests.
Jane Friedman currently teaches digital media and publishing at the University of Virginia and is a columnist for Publishers Weekly. From 2001–2010 she worked at Writer’s Digest, where she ultimately became publisher and editorial director of the $10-million multimedia brand.