The Well-Fed Writer

Thousands of books have been written on how to become a freelance writer. Most of the publications are a total waste of paper or storage space. Some books are a waste of time but do no harm, but only a handful are worth reading. The Well-Fed Writer by Peter Bowerman is one advice book that might teach you some useful things. But as with all advice offered to you, be it personally or in any other form, you'll have to work it your way.

The book has a subtitle: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less. That may sound good but is the usual hype. You have to work in your own time; doon't try to live someone's life. It gives you the best before date of the advice you're getting at least if you want to try to convert the advice given one on one. If everyone copied his method, the track you are asked to follow will be so trampled, you'll have difficulties leaving any of your tracks at all. Learn: Advice is only as good as far as you are able to make it your own.

The Well-Fed Writer contains loads of information and reading it is actually fun. It is the fun that lifts the book out over all the other advice books you can buy dealing with freelance writing advice. The book is divided into 15 chapters and they are subdivided several times again. Read it in little bits or all in one go whatever your style. It is not a novel with a thread to loose, just lots of information to be absorbed.

All writers of advice books think that they are the only ones who know how it works. Peter Bowerman sets the trap for his readers by pretending that his replication approach is the only way it works. All religions work that way, also all MLM systems; I'm not sure if the latter counts as religious as well. Don't fall into this very obvious trap. Instead, concentrate on what he has to tell you and then make it work for yourself. Replication is the dead end of evolution. Once everybody replicates, everybody walks in the same direction. Creativity is deader than dead at this point. Customers looking for writers on the other hand are looking for creativity, not reproduction..

The book is a mine of information, most of what is written is useful in one way or another. A lot of it is so basic that you are excused for thinking the writer is addressing idiots. The writer obviously was under that impression. But spread out over 15 chapters, he has lots of advice to give that is worthwhile thinking about. It might give you ideas on how to do things your own way.

The author covers the most important aspects of writing, sales, marketing, and payment. The Well-Fed Writer strongly highlights the importance networking has for your career as a freelance writer. The book contains all kinds of networking tips; good ways to find contacts and how to improve your network connections are part of the parcel. Reading the book, you will probably get the impression that the author is suffering from OCD. Just filter the dross from the pearls and your career is go.

Peter Bowerman has one major trump up his sleeve with The Well-Fed Writer: He assumes that you might not live in a big city. He gives outstanding advice to all writers dealing with limited markets. Limited market may apply to you living in small town or village in a country with limited language reach. Whatever the case, this book contains valuable advice for writers living in any country and writing in any language. 

The book also deals with niche markets. Like with all the rest of the book, you'll have to sort out what is important for you, and what isn't. I disagree with most of what the author says, but that doesn't mean it might not be true all the same. It just means it doesn't work for me. 

Further reading