Catalyst: Jane Friedman


New Modality Catalyst:
Jane Friedman, Writers' Advocate


Profile edited by Katie MacBride

Photo courtesy of Jane Friedman
Last update: 10/21/19


Jane Friedman is the editor and publisher of The Hot Sheet, an industry newsletter for authors. She previously worked for F+W Media and the Virginia Quarterly Review, and she's a New Modality Catalyst. Here's a bit more about her. 

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I've worked in publishing for 20 years and I have a special interest in how the digital age is transforming writing careers, publishing, and storytelling. Rather than taking a dark view of how the Internet era has affected writers' livelihoods, I'm more interested in how revolutionary change can inspire new business models, and how authorship will ultimately evolve.

I believe history is on the writers' side: they've been sustaining their careers in ever more innovative ways since the era of Gutenberg. Furthermore, I don't think that business and art must be at odds — I believe they can inform and push each other to flourish.


When all of us [writers] are more open about the money, we have more power to negotiate with publishers and get paid what we're worth.


What’s a specific project that you’re excited about *right now*?  

My paid email newsletter, The Hot Sheet. I know paid newsletters are a big trend right now among people who watch the tech & media space — but this one got started in 2015, before there were so many startups helping people create paid newsletters, and I had to roll my own technology to support it. It's been growing organically and sustainably since then, and I think it serves a real need in the market: business analysis of publishing, in plain English, for an audience of writers. Too long publishers have avoided business topics around authors, which only hurts their livelihoods and ability to adapt for long-term growth.

What's a current cultural edge you're excited to see people pushing?

I love seeing writers, of all kinds, being more transparent about their earnings — how much they make, how much they lose. When all of us are more open about the money, we have more power to negotiate with publishers and get paid what we're worth. It also helps avoid nasty surprises and sets the right expectations for success.


New Modality Catalysts

The New Modality is about experiments in culture — and the people who do those experiments. NewMo Catalysts are people who do things we admire and want to celebrate. They also help us stay accountable to our values. To learn more about NewMo Catalysts (or nominate someone to be a Catalyst), check out the Catalyst FAQ.

This profile was edited by Katie MacBride. Katie is a writer and co-founder of Anxy magazine. More about Katie at her NewMo profile

The information in our Catalyst profiles usually comes directly from the subjects, and we usually don't fact-check them. You can learn more about The New Modality's fact-checking and epistemological ideas by reading the page about our process for truth and transparency.