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Jane Friedman's Electric Speed newsletter

A note from Jane

How do you know when it’s time to pay for an expert?

I struggle with this question in my business (and, frankly, my home life) every week.

Is it time to hire a professional to do a custom coded template for my newsletter? (So far, I’ve resisted. But maybe it’s time.)

Is it time to hire a designer to do my branding? (I tried once and the results were terrible. So I still do my own.)

Is it time to hire a plumber? (Our kitchen faucet has a silly problem that appears simple to resolve. Yet we haven’t found the right fix.)

Writers often ask: When is it time to hire an editor? A web designer? A marketer? An assistant?

I make my living because, every day, people decide it’s time to pay an expert to help them. But I know sometimes—often, in fact—hiring is a bad decision. Maybe the time is not right, the help will not lead to the results you’re looking for, or the expert isn’t who they say they are.

There can be as much danger as opportunity, especially when you lack knowledge about the industry.

The solution? I don’t know, other than ask a lot of questions of yourself and the person you’re hiring. Try not to spend money that you can’t afford. Always comparison shop. Hire because it will save your valuable time, avoid greater expense or liability, or produce a critical result for your success. 

Right now, our faucet remains leaky, and we’re content to keep fiddling with it, as time allows.

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P.S. In the Virginia area? I’m hosting a full-day workshop on the art and business of author platform on Saturday, Feb. 8. Learn more and register.

P.P.S. Wherever you live, join me in Hawaii this fall!
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Jane’s Electric Speed List

Here are some of the latest things I’ve found and enjoyed. (I have not been paid to mention any of these resources.)
Story Origin


StoryOrigin helps self-published authors securely distribute review copies and free ebooks, plus it offers a community where you can discover and coordinate group promotions and newsletter swaps. It’s still in beta right now and available for free (but it won’t be free forever).

The Six Figure Authors podcast

I am not a podcast listener, but sometimes I make an exception for the Six Figure Authors podcast, hosted by Lindsay Buroker, Jo Lallo, and Andrea Pearson. The weekly show began in fall 2019 and covers the nitty-gritty of being a profitable, self-published novelist. Highly recommended—plus look for the affiliated Facebook group.

The best fonts for book reading

Yes, some fonts do better than others. In this post at IngramSpark, learn about some of the tried-and-true fonts for fiction and nonfiction alike. (My personal longtime favorite is Georgia, not mentioned in the post. Truth be told, I like to use Georgia for everything.)

Just for fun: Words that don’t translate

Search more than 500 untranslatable words by 70+ languages and 50+ tags. 

Desus (Indonesian): The quiet, smooth sound of somebody farting although not very loudly
How to Self-Publish: Primer for First Timers

Next online class: How to Self-Publish — A Primer for First Timers with Jane

This 90-minute session covers everything you need to know about the self-publishing landscape, in plain English. You’ll come away with a clear picture of how the major retailers, distributors and service companies work, and learn the best practices of professional, self-publishing authors.

Learn more and register ($25)

Your turn: Microsoft Word tips 

In the last issue, I asked you to share your best tip for using Microsoft Word. Here’s the best of what I received.

Read Aloud
This feature was prized by several of you, and it’s available in the most current version of Word (look under the “Review” option in the main menu).

Larry Mandelberg says, “I love to close my eyes and let Word read my writing to me. I always hear missing beats, a flow that doesn’t align with my intentions, misspellings that morphed into words I didn’t mean, etc. It also gives me ideas on sequencing different segments of my writing.”

Robin Praytor says, “Awkward phrasing, missed words, and plot continuity issues are immediately apparent. Read Aloud has cut my editing time in half and improved my final product. I’m addicted to the feature.”

Use styles instead of manual formatting
Abigail Welborn says, “When you use the Heading 1 style for your chapter titles, the Navigation pane (which you can open from the View tab) will automatically give you a clickable table of contents for your document. For nonfiction, using the other heading styles will give you an outline of your document. If you’ve forgotten, you can also search and replace by style. Great tutorial here.”

Next question for you
If you keep a handwritten notebook or journal, are you devoted to a particular brand or product? Hit reply, let me know, and your response may be shared in a future issue.


Classifieds are paid ads that support Electric Speed and get delivered to 33,000 subscribers each week. Place yours.

Lena Tabori says, “Literary Agent & Publishing Consultant, Peter Beren, is a problem solver. He has an extraordinary depth of experience, great contacts and innate street smarts.”

Give yourself the gift of time to focus on your novel at the Gutsy Great Novelist Virtual Writing Retreat for women, Sunday, Feb 16. Space is limited.

DEEP WRITING LONDON. 5-Day writing workshop with Eric Maisel. Dr. Maisel, master coach and author of 50+ books, leads these workshops worldwide. Learn more here!

Subscribe to the free Winning Writers email newsletter and receive monthly news about the best free literary contests, along with instant access to our online contest database.

Where Jane Is Speaking Next

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Electric Speed is a free newsletter published by Jane Friedman that’s been sending since 2009. It is read by more than 33,000 subscribers. You can support it by (1) sponsoring an issue or placing a classified or (2) sharing it with friends and colleagues.
“At electric speed, all forms are pushed to the limits of their potential.” 
—Marshall McLuhan
Copyright © 2020 Jane Friedman, All rights reserved.

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