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The Business of Being a Writer • The Smutlancers

cover for the business of being a writer by jane friedman

For this month’s book review, I picked up The Business of Being a Writer by Jane Friedman. I thought that reviewing a business book specifically about writing might bring more relevant material to smutlancer readers. However, while there were some valuable elements, all of them had already been covered by other smutlancer resources. Also, entire sections are completely irrelevant to most smutlancers, as they focus on traditional publishing. I would love to cover the useful aspects of the book before I dismiss it, though.

Helpful Info

The most helpful section of The Business of Being a Writer came early in the book. Chapter 2, The Art of Career Building, discusses how to think of yourself as a brand. Friedman mentioned that many writers are encouraged to focus on the craft or art of writing, rather than the business aspect. While that’s somewhat true for blogging, the business aspect is certainly more prominent in the minds of many new bloggers these days. 

One element of blogging that many people struggle with is writing a bio. For this, Friedman paraphrases Michael Margolis’ article, The Resume Is Dead, The Bio Is King:

  • Who are you?
  • How did you get here?
  • What do you care about and why?

I found this to be a great formula in the past, so I’m glad that Friedman includes it. Additionally, regarding networking, she advises being helpful but not pushy toward people you admire and hope to connect with online. This chapter itself seems to be the most relevant to smutlancers.

Not-So-Helpful Info

Aside from Chapter 2: The Art of Career Building, not much applies to the smutlancing life. Friedman discusses traditional publishing for a long while, including things like how and when to send a query letter and ways to negotiate with an agent. Skipping ahead to chapters about digital writing and blogging, the information is quite shallow and the same (and often more specific) information could be found on The Smutlancers blog and podcast.

For example, in Chapter 18: Online Writing and Blogging, the author talks about types of content that you might include on your blog. She discusses curation, how to build and an audience, and a very brief overview of SEO. Then, just as soon as it started, the chapter was over.

While I was listening to the audiobook, I realized far too late that this book had very little value for people not interested in traditional publishing. I kept waiting for something relevant to me to come along, but when it finally did, it was very surface level and didn’t provide any more detail than the resources I’ve already used. Are the few details in The Business of Being a Writer that smutlancers might use worth the cover price? I don’t think so. Digging deep into The Smutlancer website would provide just as much or more value.

Is there a business book you’d like me to review from a smutlancer’s perspective? Please leave it in the comment section below!

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