Freelance Advice Books

Joe-Wallace-Vinyl-Collector-and-authorIn the last two weeks, I’ve read a lot of books aimed at giving advice to freelancers. But the books I’ve been consuming aren’t books for freelance writers, they’re books written by audio professionals aimed at helping people advance careers in location audio, sound engineering, and studio recording.

What’s interesting is how obvious it is which of the authors write on a regular basis, and which of them were in “first book” mode. Mastering Audio, The Art and The Science by the legendary Bob Katz is a book written with confidence and mastery of the written word. I can’t say the same for some of the other volumes of freelance audio pro advice I’ve read in the last 14 days (by other authors).

One book had great potential, but its inconsistencies brought it down. Written by a longtime freelance audio pro, it contains a lot of excellent advice for newcomers to a specific part of the game I’m quite familiar with. It was clear the author isn’t really a writer per se, but a serious pro trying to share his years of experience. In that department the author has a lot to offer, but the “my first book” shortcomings seriously hamstring its effectiveness.

An example: one chapter goes into great detail about microphones, which ones are appropriate for different recording needs, and names brands that are considered industry standard for quality and acceptable sound reproduction. But in an equally crucial chapter about another important piece of hardware, there’s no advice given on makes, models or industry standards. The two different types of equipment can’t be used (in context) one without the other.

An oversight? A reluctance to endorse certain brands over others? There’s no explanation. Too bad for you, industry newcomer. There is much to glean from this particular book, but the inconsistencies in the writing keep it from being a powerhouse of a freelance advice book–which it definitely could have been with a bit more information and consistency between the chapters.

Some books offering freelance advice present detailed, technical information. Others are more about the philosophy of doing business in that field. The best ones are those that advertise and present themselves as what they really are. The worst are those that pretend to be both at once, delivering neither very well.

One thing’s for sure–even the bad freelance advice books I’ve read on pro audio have been truly enlightening–it really helps to see into another professional environment and learn how common freelancer issues are dealt with in those circles. Quality of work, deliverables, getting paid, managing expectations…you can learn a hell of a lot by reading a book about freelancing outside your own professional circles. It’s a fascinating look into a world you don’t travel in, but share common experiences with.

Joe Wallace is a freelance writer and a multi-media professional. He started his career in media in 1987 working an overnight shift in a local FM radio station in Springfield, Illinois, moved on to television in the 90s working for Air Force News Agency, and eventually wound up in Chicago writing for print, the Internet, and now indie film productions. He also directs and produces. His latest work includes 45 RPM, a short indie mystery/horror film. He blogs about audio production and indie film making at