Book Review

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Freelance Writer in Six Months or Less

By Debbie Swanson

Author: Peter Bowerman. Copyright 2000 by Fanove Publishing. $19.95 US paperback, 282 pages. ISBN: 0-967-05984-4.

If you have ever contemplated freelance writing, Peter Bowerman's The Well-Fed Writer is well worth reading. Whether you are considering branching off as a technical writer, or have been toying with more creative pursuits, the book provides a practical roadmap for getting started on your own. The information is geared not at a specific type of writing, but addresses the overall business of establishing and maintaining a freelance writing business.

Bowerman describes the freelance lifestyle as "enviable" for many obvious reasons: flexible schedules, being your own boss, high income potential, and tax benefits. Along with these positive points, however, Bowerman details many of the common pitfalls and less glamorous aspects, particularly for those coming from the nine to five corporate world. The first five chapters focus primarily on the early, practical considerations to address before making the leap to freelance.

The remainder of the book provides information on how to get your career going and keep it profitable. The text is thought invoking, asking "what if" questions and making suggestions. Bowerman gives ideas for networking, tapping into your own background and personal interests, and finding new directions and sources for work. He outlines solutions to common obstacles, such as how to build up a portfolio from scratch or how to make a cold sales call. These chapters provide fresh perspectives and ideas for the novice and seasoned freelancer.

A good portion of the book addresses how to seek work, using conventional and non-conventional methods. Bowerman stresses the importance of constant marketing, and suggests establishing "systems" to streamline the process. For example, he promotes spending time early on developing a set of backbone resourcessuch as form letters, a work sample packet, and other standard tools that you will routinely draw upon and alter as needed for each new prospect. The appendices include samples of these as well as marketing materials.

Chapter 13, "Do's, Don'ts and Don't Forget's," is one of the more useful for the new freelancer. It lists tips on basic work etiquette and maintaining your reputation as an independent businessperson.

If you are thinking of shifting your writing focus to a non-technical venue, Chapter 14, "What Will You Be Writing?" previews many profitable areas of writing, such as marketing brochures, scripting, speeches, ad copy, and others.

Filled with inspiring tips for the freelance writer, Bowerman balances encouraging information with practical checks and balances to keep readers grounded. The end result is a positive outlook for the freelance writer.

Debbie Swanson is a freelance technical and business writer. She can be reached at .