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How to Publish Your Book

Get unprecedented insights about the current publishing landscape to distinguish your book from the competition and improve your chances of publication.
How to Publish Your Book is rated 4.2 out of 5 by 69.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely what I needed!! This program was so typical of the Great Courses offerings that I've taken. And so timely, as I am 75% done with writing a novel. The excellent guidance, background and all pertaining to Publishing by Ms. Friedman is incredibly valuable. I've even had a conversation with one publishing outfit, and this course gave me total understanding of all that was discussed via phone and email with them. The sections are concise, wonderfully delivered and always pertinent; even the legal aspects! Thanks so very much, Ms. Friedman.
Date published: 2024-04-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good title: exactly what it is all about. Everything was well presented, but lesson 8 never played - "Manifest could not be loaded" is what the screen stated. "The importance of an Author Platform" could be gathered from other lectures. Jane Friedman's use of examples was spot on. Her energy was above average compared to other courses.
Date published: 2022-08-28
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Depressing Ok, I realize I’m probably not going to get my book published, but I can dream can’t I? The speaker gives all the reasons why your book won’t sell (it’s literary fiction, it’s too long/too short), it’s too unique, etc), and then repeats them often, giving little incentive to continue with your journey. I stopped watching.
Date published: 2022-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Content! This course is jam-packed full of essential information for anyone new to the book writing world. After completing the course, you will want to use it over and over as a reference. The professor does an outstanding job of delivering the lectures.
Date published: 2021-12-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very knowledgeable but hard to hear over music I bought this for my daughter but started watching it myself. The professor is easy to understand and seems very knowledgeable on the subject but at most times the music is too loud. If only there was a way to control the background music volume. Still, I'm looking forward to the rest of the lessons.
Date published: 2021-10-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Excellent Overview I found this course to be very well presented. It encompasses pretty much all the various ways that a writer can publish their work. The lectures on platform, and pitching an idea were very helpful as well, as the one on contracts even though it doesn't completely apply to my situation as I'm not in the US.
Date published: 2021-01-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Practical and Professional Presentation Having published in academic journals, I thought I knew a bit about publishing for a wider audience, but this DVD presentation showed me how much I don't know. Having years of practical experience as the editor of Writer's Digest as a resource, Ms. Friedman presented the material in an organized and easy-to-follow format. Particularly effective were her practical examples of engaging hooks, effective query letters, and timely examples of present-day authors who have published best sellers. She also provides personal insights regarding what to avoid when engaging an agent, for example. Well worth the investment!
Date published: 2020-06-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from More than the title implies Excellent course that covers all aspects of wanting to write something for other people to read, from internal doubts to the finer points of self-publishing. I stumbled across the author's blog and there learned about the series, free from my local library. Listened to it continuously over the last three days and am in a much better position to evaluate my next moves and weigh the risks/rewards of various strategies. Excellent resource for writers at any stage of the process.
Date published: 2020-06-11
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Today's authors face unprecedented competition in the writing market. Get extensive insights into the publishing process that will help you avoid common mistakes and pitfalls that many writers encounter. Understanding how publishing works, from finalizing your book to effective marketing, can make the difference between a manuscript sitting on your closet shelf-or rising to the top of the best-sellers list.


Jane Friedman

There's no single publishing path that's right for everyone. The correct choice depends on your goals and your personality as a writer.


University of Virginia

Jane Friedman has worked in the book, magazine, and digital publishing industry since the mid-1990s. From 2001 to 2010, she worked at Writer's Digest, ultimately becoming publisher and editorial director of the $10 million multimedia brand. Most recently, she led digital media initiatives at The Virginia Quarterly Review (VQR), an award-winning literary journal published by the University of Virginia. She continues to lecture in publishing at the University of Virginia and is a former full-time professor of e-media at the University of Cincinnati. She holds a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Evansville and an M.A. in English from Xavier University. She is a regular columnist for Publishers Weekly, the leading trade magazine for the publishing industry, and is an adviser to The Alliance of Independent Authors, an international nonprofit professional association for authors.

Ms. Friedman has published two books for writers: Beginning Writer's Answer Book and Publishing 101: A First-Time Author's Guide to Getting Published, Marketing and Promoting Your Book, and Building a Successful Career. A highly sought-after contributor, Ms. Friedman's feature articles have appeared in Writer's Digest, The Huffington Post, Writer Unboxed, and many other print and online venues. Her essays have been published in multiple collections. Ms. Friedman has maintained an active blog for writers at, which now enjoys more than 150,000 visits every month and has won multiple awards for its service to the writing community.

Ms. Friedman's expertise has been featured by such sources as NPR's Morning Edition, Nieman Journalism Lab, and PBS. She has spoken at hundreds of events around the world and has given keynote presentations at national writing conferences. She was invited to participate in a three-day collaborative experiment at the Frankfurt Book Fair on reading, writing, and authorship, as well as 2012 LitFlow, an international publishing think-tank event, hosted in Berlin, Germany. She also has served on literature grant panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund.

By This Professor

How to Publish Your Book
How to Publish Your Book


Today's Book Publishing Landscape

01: Today's Book Publishing Landscape

Take an in-depth look at the world of writing and getting published: the history of the business, the competition in the modern market, and the major and minor players in the industry. Clear up some common misconceptions about what it takes to become a published writer and get an overview of what to expect if you pursue a career as a writer....

33 min
Defining Your Fiction Genre

02: Defining Your Fiction Genre

Understanding where your fiction book falls in the general categories of literature is an essential step to getting published, as there are a plethora of genre-specific publishing houses. Differentiate between the various categories of fiction writing, including defining commercial and literary fiction, and examine the various types of children's books....

27 min
Categorizing Your Nonfiction Book

03: Categorizing Your Nonfiction Book

The non-fiction world is also broken into categories including memoires, education, creative or narrative non-fiction, and practical or self-help. Delve into the various genres of non-fiction writing, and learn how to determine which publishing house best aligns with your non-fiction manuscript....

29 min
Researching Writers' Markets

04: Researching Writers' Markets

The modern publishing markets are far more complex than they were even a few decades ago. Learn about the different agents and publishers, and discover the tools out there that can help you find the right ones for you. Also, learn how to spot scams and get a handle on what questions you need to ask when deciding whom to approach....

28 min
What to Expect from a Literary Agent

05: What to Expect from a Literary Agent

Examine the pros and cons to using literary agents, and learn how the responsibilities and obligations of literary agents have evolved. Learn about how to acquire one, what to expect from an agent, and what standard and non-standard practices you may encounter if you choose to go that route....

30 min
Writing Your Query Letter

06: Writing Your Query Letter

The query letter is your first impression and often what catches an agent or publisher's attention, so it's important to create a memorable one. Learn what elements comprise a good query letter, what components the publisher or agent requires, and how to stand out from a sea of queries so your book gets further consideration. Find out which red flags almost always result in immediate rejecti...

29 min
Writing Your Novel or Memoir Synopsis

07: Writing Your Novel or Memoir Synopsis

Once you've nailed a query letter, you will need to provide a synopsis. Condensing your entire story into a one-page overview while still keeping it compelling and intriguing is not easy. Get valuable tips on what a synopsis should and should not contain, and learn what your synopsis needs to focus on and accomplish to be successful....

28 min
The Importance of Author Platform

08: The Importance of Author Platform

A platform generally refers to an author's visibility and reach to a target audience: who is aware of your work, where does your work appear, and how many people see it. Examine the six components that make up most platforms, and review the requirements for various genres of writing....

29 min
Researching and Planning Your Book Proposal

09: Researching and Planning Your Book Proposal

Dissect the elements in a book proposal, which is essentially a business plan that persuades a publisher to invest in your book. Because publishers look for a viable idea with a clear market, paired with a writer who has credibility and marketing savvy, your proposal will need to demonstrate both of these, which will require investigation into the target market, audience, competition, authors, and...

29 min
Writing an Effective Book Proposal

10: Writing an Effective Book Proposal

Once you've completed the research required, analyze how to effectively incorporate your findings in a compelling manner, how to craft an author bio that will showcase your credentials, and how to integrate a marketing plan-including identifying your target audience-throughout your proposal. Review examples of how stats and research are incorporated into well-crafted proposals....

28 min
Submissions and Publishing Etiquette

11: Submissions and Publishing Etiquette

While each publisher and agent has their own requirements for you to follow when submitting your work for consideration, there are rules that apply universally and will often result in rejections when not followed. Learn the guidelines for mailing and emailing queries, what your rights are and how to protect your work, and the definitions of common terminology that publishers and agents may use wh...

28 min
Networking: From Writers' Conferences to Courses

12: Networking: From Writers' Conferences to Courses

Just like with a job search, networking can be an important and useful component to getting published. Delve into the options and resources you have for meeting other writers, agents, and publishing representatives, learn how to develop a gripping elevator pitch for your work, and discover ways you can network online to help develop and perfect your proposal....

28 min
Pitching Your Book

13: Pitching Your Book

Not all aspiring writers will have the opportunity to pitch their books, but every writer should have a pitch prepared. Learn the three types of pitches you should have ready, examine strong and weak pitch examples, and get tips on how to prepare for pitches without succumbing to nerves or stage fright....

27 min
Avoiding Common Manuscript Pitfalls

14: Avoiding Common Manuscript Pitfalls

Many agents and editors rely on their experience and instinct and can tell within the first page whether or not a manuscript is worth reading further. Discuss the two rough categories of red flags: narrative or structural problems and surface-level errors that can lead to a make-or-break decision before the second page. You'll also get invaluable tips on creating a strong opening, including the pi...

28 min
Hiring a Professional Editor

15: Hiring a Professional Editor

Explore the different stages of writing and reviewing, examine the different types of editing you can consider, and learn what an editor can and can't do to make your work publishable. Then, find out the three reasons you may consider hiring a professional to review your work....

28 min
How Writers Handle Rejection

16: How Writers Handle Rejection

In this important lecture, you'll learn why you might be rejected, even if you've done everything correctly. Dissect some of the common reasons for rejection, how to let go of rejection or react to it in a constructive manner, and what your options are if you've been rejected. Interpret common or form rejection phrases to learn what feedback is really being conveyed....

29 min
Overcoming Obstacles to Writing

17: Overcoming Obstacles to Writing

Rejections are not the only obstacles to becoming a published author. Look at common dilemmas writers face, and learn how to create time for writing no matter what your daily schedule looks like....

28 min
The Book Publishing Contract

18: The Book Publishing Contract

If you get to the point of the process where publishing contracts are being drafted, it's important to understand the terminology and protect your rights. Examine the three areas of the contract to which you should pay close attention: the grant-of-rights clause, the reversion-of-rights clause, and the subsidiary rights clauses. You'll also explore matters of compensation and material owners...

31 min
Working Effectively with Your Publisher

19: Working Effectively with Your Publisher

While most aspiring writers are thrilled to get to this point in the publication process, it's also important to know what will be expected of you once a publisher agrees to move forward. Learn the several phases you'll go through with the publisher, including editorial development, design and production, sales and marketing planning, the book launch, and post-launch PR and publicity....

28 min
Becoming a Bestselling Author

20: Becoming a Bestselling Author

Marketing your book is a huge part of becoming a best-seller, and much of the onus of marketing will fall on you. Learn about how you'll be expected to provide support in order to help publicize your book, such as hosting author events, creating a presence on social media, and reaching out to your connections....

28 min
Career Marketing Strategies for Writers

21: Career Marketing Strategies for Writers

Author websites, blogs, newsletters and emails, and social media will be your responsibility, and these marketing tools are often required by your publisher. Get tips on creating successful marketing tactics to help publicize your work and keep your publisher happy....

31 min
The Self-Publishing Path: When and How

22: The Self-Publishing Path: When and How

Discuss the value of publishers, then review specific scenarios in which you may not need those benefits. When is self-publishing a viable option for your book? Get invaluable advice on steps you should take if you choose to self-publish, and learn about the tools you will need to succeed....

32 min
Principles of Self-Publishing Success

23: Principles of Self-Publishing Success

Understand the vital role metadata plays in positioning your self-published book for success. Examine pricing models to attract a large audience that is hesitant about purchasing from an unknown entity. Learn tips to garner reviews that will help your book get noticed....

30 min
Beyond the Book: Sharing Ideas in the Digital Age

24: Beyond the Book: Sharing Ideas in the Digital Age

In an era when attention spans are shrinking and collaborative reading and writing are becoming more common, it's important to consider the story or message you wish to share, rather than focusing on the container. Consider the many ways besides a book to write, publish, and share ideas in the digital age. Explore the plethora of options you have as a writer in modern times, and reflect on what th...

31 min