Publishing Trendsetter is a production of Market Partners International and Publishing Trends.

Brand New You: An Interview with Jane Friedman

Having worked as Managing Editor of Writer’s Digest, Consultant for authors, and Co-founder and Editor of Scratch Magazine, Jane Friedman (this Jane Friedman, not that Jane Friedman) is viewed as an advocate and go-to source for writers looking to build a platform. Much of her work is dedicated to giving writers the tools they need to thrive, be it through best writing practices, personal branding, or bringing transparency to what writers are being paid for their work. Being as skilled as she is at helping writers cash in on their skills, we wanted to know how some of the same branding and networking ideas she recommends to authors can be applied to young professionals in the thick of their job searches. Here’s what she had to say:
jane friedman
How can young book professionals make a personal brand for themselves?

I would consider two things to begin: First, whatever you’re doing for your day job in publishing, does it represent what you ultimately want to be known for? If it does, then you should be describing and showcasing that work on your own personal website, and including highlights in your professional bio, wherever it may be found (LinkedIn, Facebook, etc).
If your current day job in publishing isn’t necessarily what you see as your long-term future, then find ways to express or pursue your vision for your career. This might mean committing to online or offline activities (volunteer work, blogging, freelancing, etc), but either way, your personal website and social media presences should probably give preference and priority to that side of your life, rather than the day job. Remember that you’re the one who tells the story about your life and career—particularly at your own website—so tell it in a way that attracts the right opportunities to you. The goal is to have a cohesive message surrounding your name and the kind of work you do or want to do.

What are some of the best ways for someone early in their career to get noticed by other publishing professionals?

Be proactive and solution oriented when dealing with challenges. Instead of bringing problems to your boss or team, bring problems plus potential ways to resolve it. Look for the answers yourself, then discuss the complexities or nuances of what solution is best with your mentor or boss. It’s also impressive when someone has done their research in ways that add value and depth to conversations, rather than working merely by gut instinct or “this is the way it’s always been done.” While it’s good to ask questions and be informed—especially to do your job right and avoid misunderstandings—avoid asking questions that you could answer yourself by doing a little bit of research or picking up the phone.

What are three things someone looking to move up in the publishing world can do to get ahead of other applicants?

1. Be better at the tech surrounding media/publishing. Learn HTML and WordPress. Know how to put together an EPUB. Know how to capture decent audio or video. Understand best practices of social media.

2. Attend every possible publishing-related event you can, even if it costs you money, to broaden your network, meet more people, and have more connections. More connections means more opportunities at jobs.

3. Treat people well. Your reputation will precede you, and if you become known as difficult to work with, you’ll encounter barriers.

What advice do you wish you’d gotten early on in your career?

If you become a manager, you can’t be friends with the people you manage—even if you were peers or friends before.

What mistake in your career have you learned the most from?

On a couple of occasions, I made the mistake of trying to tell colleagues how they could do their jobs better—even going so far as to show them a concrete vision of how I’d do things. That has never gone over well and in fact made me a few enemies. No matter how well-intentioned, it just comes off as presumptuous and arrogant (at best).

5 Comments

  1. Terrific advice here, Jane! Cheers! So much of this advice is what I share with authors as well, particularly new authors just figuring out their “brand” and recognizing that how they present online and at conferences is going to effect their reputations. Staying professional, courteous, being aware of best practices on social media, and being savvy to the best practices of publishing are going to serve young publishing professionals and authors alike. A win-win situation, it seems to me. Thanks again for your post – and for all your posts, for that matter,

  2. Lara Nance says:

    Jane, What about comments on how a new author to BEA can capitalize on that experience. I’ll be in the UPublishU Author Hub, but have never been to BEA before and it seems a bit overwhelming. Any advice? Thanks, Lara

  3. Lexa Cain says:

    This is such a good article, all points effectively made. I think even if one isn’t on the industry side of the fence, so much can learned from the tips as they’re sound advice for authors, agent interns, or anyone.

  4. This is great advice, Jane. I agree wholeheartedly with all three points you make here. I would also encourage writers to join a local Independent Publishing Association chapter in in their area. You’ll meet other writers, meet experts in the field, and learn a lot.

  5. Good post. I think it all comes down to networking as you mentioned. I hit as many local conferences as I can each year and have always tried to help first. Eventually I may need that other persons assistance somewhere down the road, and hopefully they remember me. So far so good.

  6. […] Howard at Publishing Trendsetter looks at a “An Interview with Jane Friedman” in which she discusses branding yourself from the start. While this discussion is aimed at […]

  7. […] Howard at Publishing Trendsetter looks at a “An Interview with Jane Friedman” in which she discusses branding yourself from the start. While this discussion is aimed at […]

  8. […] When I first started here I was bursting with all kinds of impossible ideas, one of them being interviewing Jane Friedman about how to market yourself in the publishing job market. She actually accepted and it was one of the first interviews I had on the site, and it’s all still relevant today! […]

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  4. […] Howard at Publishing Trendsetter looks at a “An Interview with Jane Friedman” in which she discusses branding yourself from the start. While this discussion is aimed at […]

  5. […] Howard at Publishing Trendsetter looks at a “An Interview with Jane Friedman” in which she discusses branding yourself from the start. While this discussion is aimed at […]

  6. […] When I first started here I was bursting with all kinds of impossible ideas, one of them being interviewing Jane Friedman about how to market yourself in the publishing job market. She actually accepted and it was one of the first interviews I had on the site, and it’s all still relevant today! […]

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