Peter Bowerman is the author of The Well-Fed Writer, a book we believe most freelancers–especially those at the beginning of their careers–should read. That’s not just because WE read it at the start of ours, but it’s definitely a volume we deem worthy of keeping in the library, even all these years later. Freelance-Zone caught up with Peter Bowerman to get a bit of history on the book and some advice for those who haven’t read it…yet.
What’s your background in writing?
Peter Bowerman: When I started my commercial writing business in 1994, I had no writing background, no writing training, no paid writing experience and no industry contacts. And I was paying all my bills through writing inside of four months. I had taken exactly one journalism course in high school and one in college, and that was it. I came from a sales background, which many people point to to say, “Well, no wonder you were so successful.”
And while I’m not going to argue that it wasn’t helpful, I have to remind them that I had no WRITING experience, and certainly could have used that lack of experience as an excuse not to pursue the business, but I didn’t. So, my success, while perhaps due in part to a basic level of comfort with the marketing process, also points to the relative accessibility of this field for writers with good skills and a willingness to let the world know they’re out there.
How did you come up with the idea for The Well-Fed Writer? What’s the book about?
Before I wrote the original version in 2000, I had thought I’d like to do seminars, and was in the process of chronicling my experiences, and when I saw I’d collected 80+ pages worth of stuff, I realized I had enough to write a book. And at that point, I knew I had a pretty great life in terms of income and lifestyle benefits, and figured there were plenty of the others out there who’d want to know about this field, and who would be just as interested in carving out a similar life and lifestyle for themselves.
Who should be reading The Well-Fed Writer?
Anyone who knows they’re a good writer and would love to make a good living at it (i.e., $50-125+ an hour). Which incidentally, are the only two things I assume on the part of a reader. Any writer – whether aspiring or seasoned (but not making the kind of money they’d like to make – perhaps in magazines, newspapers or online content. The business world has constant needs and they pay far better than most other arenas of writing – hence the title of the book…;)
You also do mentoring for those interested in commercial writing….tell us a bit about that.
Sure. I offer both one-on-one and group coaching for those starting a writing business. I just started the group program last November and it’s been a big hit. I’m in the midst of my fourth series and have a fifth scheduled for June. It’s designed for those starting out (or very early on in their businesses), so everyone’s pretty much starting out on the same page, and as a result, have a lot of the same concerns.
The one-on-one version is for those wanting more personal, dedicated attention and that’s really for anyone, regardless of their experience level (or lack thereof), though I seem, again, to draw the newer startup folks. I invite people to check out both programs (where they’ll find details and testimonials) at www.wellfedwriter.com (see icons on left side of the home page).
Any thoughts you want to leave us with?
Just that the commercial writing field offers a bona fide opportunity to make a handsome living with your writing ability, and be well-respected in the process of being well-compensated.
All that said, I always make sure people understand it’s NOT a get-rich-quick proposition. You’re mother was right: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! But if you work hard and stick to it, you may just get to a point where you have to pinch yourself to remind yourself that you are in fact, making a solid living doing something you love to do and doing it in your sweats, on your schedule and your terms. And it doesn’t get a whole lot better than that. And I invite people to subscribe to my e-zine and blog (no charge) at www.wellfedwriter.com, and check out the other great resources (some free, some fairly priced…) there as well.