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Jane Friedman Electric Speed

In this issue

A note from Jane

My first direct experience with money was in middle school, when I began delivering newspapers. I wanted the job for the earnings, but those earnings were contingent upon subscribers directly paying me every month.

Back then, even though the newspaper sold and collected the customer’s first payment, it was up to me to bill and collect the renewals. I also had to buy the papers I delivered. (Looking back, what a great business model for the newspaper, to off-load collections onto delivery people!)

That meant if subscribers didn’t pay, I could go in the red. Or at least earn a lot less than expected.

Every month, I slipped payment envelopes into my customers’ mailboxes. All they had to do was write a check or put cash in the envelope and leave it for me to collect the next morning. The majority did so, but a reliable percentage—usually the same customers every time—did not.

So I would try leaving a second pay envelope, writing on it in red marker “PAST DUE.” This had a predictable effect, which was nothing.

If I wanted my full earnings, I had to knock on doors and ask. It produced good results, but people were only sometimes home, and the interactions were of course awkward—embarrassed glances, bumbled remarks about forgetfulness.

Increasingly, I just stopped delivering the paper to those who didn’t pay on time and reduced my newspaper order.

It might be why I rarely participate in certain types of marketing strategies, like re-targeting campaigns or getting in touch with lapsed subscribers. I’m happier with the business I don’t have to work doubly hard to attract or keep.


P.S. The most popular blog post at my site this month:
How to Move From First Draft to Second Draft to Publishable Book

P.P.S. There is more to this newsletter—keep scrolling!

Jane’s Electric Speed List

Here are some of the latest things I’ve discovered. I have not been paid to mention any of these resources and there are no affiliate links. why didn’t I discover this eons ago?

I use Zoom a lot for free presentations. If you want to livestream your Zoom event to another platform, Zoom allows you to pick one platform (e.g., Facebook or YouTube) or—if you really know what you’re doing—set up a custom live stream.

Enter Restream. This service—which has a robust free plan—allows you to broadcast your Zoom event on multiple platforms at once. It requires no particular skills aside from copying and pasting some text. I’m very excited. Check it out. (You can also use Restream itself to broadcast if you don’t have a pro Zoom account.)

High-res public domain art from world museums

Because it’s public domain, you can use this gorgeous, high-resolution art for any purpose you like at no charge. You can use it for cover designs, websites, and presentations. Turn it into wrapping paper or stickers or a laptop cover. Anything. Be sure to click on the “book illustrations” tab!


Decide what to blog about using this SEO-based brainstorming tool

It’s called Answer Socrates. Discover the questions people ask Google, on any topic, by country. The homepage also shows you trending topics in the US.

Just for fun: make a cartoon version of yourself

This is just the latest in a crowded field of photo app filters: ToonMe. One of their cartoon versions is a pretty good simulation of what you’d look like as a Simpsons character. Looking for artful sophistication? Consider Waterlogue.

Second Draft: Your Path to a Powerful, Publishable Story with Allison K Williams. $25 class. Wednesday December 16, 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Eastern

Next online class: Second Draft—Your Path to a Powerful, Publishable Story with Allison K Williams

On Wednesday, Dec. 16: Maybe you’ve hit a wall in your second draft and your enthusiasm is fading. How do you stride through the next draft with a clear map—and where should you be going? In this class, you’ll learn how to revise a first or early draft into a structured, powerful story with engaging characters and a strong hook. You’ll discover a step-by-step work plan to guide yourself through any creative blocks and overwhelm, while leaving plenty of room for inspiration—and set a realistic timeline to finish.
Learn more and register

Your turn: Paper-based planners

In the last issue, I asked what kind of paper-based planner or calendar you use or recommend. Here’s what you said.
  • I used a planner from for all of 2020 and just ordered one for the 1st half of 2021. It’s highly customizable both inside and outside, which I love. This planner has replaced my bullet journal after I grew tired of drawing the layouts by hand each week. I have monthly, weekly, and daily layouts customized to my preferences and needs. I even have my family’s birthdays pre-printed inside, along with other personalized labels and headings. —Leslye Penelope
  • I love the calendars and planners from Boxclever Press. Their 15-month calendars have lots of space for me to write things on and their meal planner/shopping lists have saved me a fortune because it stops me impulse-buying. —Rhoda Baxter
  • Tait is an independent design studio in Detroit. They produce a unique perpetual calendar. They have beautiful clocks as well. Anytime I have given these as gifts, my friends and family rave about them. —Sarah Pazur
  • For the past few years, I have purchased the Gallery Leather Large Monthly Planner. I like the size (9.75 x 7.5 inches) since l lose track of smaller purse-size calendars. —Diane Phelps Budden
  • Dayminder’s Weekly/Monthly Planner at-a-glance G545-00 refillable planner, G545-50 refills. Going into my third decade using this classic. —Susan Hodge
  • My favorite paper calendar inserts are from Teddie at I like the clean elegant look of her creations and I usually buy her 1-page per day calendars. —Carol Oyanagi
  • I prefer Plum Paper. It is entirely customizable, even with the start month. Sizes, covers, layouts, add-ins and even stickers. I’m on my fourth planner, and this time I ordered a 6-month planner that started in September because I didn’t want a 2020 planner but I needed it for distance learning. For stationery lovers, this company is a dream. —Claire Coffey
  • For the third year running I have selected Day Designer. If you want structure, nothing beats Day Designer IMHO. You can identify long-term goals, identify your top three tasks to tackle each day, and keep track of how you spend your time. With an envelope upfront to store a few loose papers, my planner and my laptop are everything I need. —Madison Michael

Next question: Do you use a specific app, tool, or system for tracking books you’ve read?


Classifieds support Electric Speed and get delivered to 35,000 subscribers each week. We’re sold out for 2020, but have sponsorships available in 2021.

2020 has been a challenging year, and IngramSpark wants to help. For a limited time, use promo code FREE2020 to upload a print and/or ebook for free with IngramSpark. Get details.

Want to publish your indie book? Download The Indie Writer's Ultimate Self-Publishing Checklist to serve as your resourceful guide. Take out the guesswork and publish like a pro.

LIFE STORYTELLING SUMMIT is the most comprehensive resource for: writing memoirs, therapeutic storytelling, creating personal histories, visual narratives, TEDx your story and more!

Download a free copy of Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book by Tim Grahl. It has over 396 5-star Amazon reviews and has sold over 50,000 copies.

Upcoming online classes

All classes are recorded; you don’t have to attend live to benefit.

🔁 December 16: Second Draft—Your Path to a Powerful, Publishable Story with Allison K Williams

☯️ December 30: Social Media Bliss with Jane Friedman

🖋 January 6: How to Get Published—Land a Book Deal in 2021 with Jane Friedman

👑 January 13: Query Letter Master Class with Jane Friedman

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Electric Speed is a free newsletter by Jane Friedman that launched in 2009. More than 35,000 subscribers receive it. You can support it by (1) sponsoring an issue or (2) sharing it with friends and colleagues.
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—Marshall McLuhan
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