Hitchhiker’s–No, FREELANCER’S Guide Review

I finally finished reading my second pass through Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Freelancer’s Survival Guide.  You can also read the book for free on the author’s website, but I wanted to put it on my Nook so I didn’t have to sit in front of the computer for 200K.

It’s a long one.  It could probably be trimmed to make it less chatty and more professional sounding, but I kind of liked it the way it is, a bit rambly.  It’s a long book (almost 200K words), and the rambly bits help move you along, strangely.

So the deal is, this is supposed to be a book of essays related to freelancing for any field.  Practically speaking, however, most of the examples tend to be about writing, because it’s where she has most of her experience.  If I’d been a plumber reading this stuff, I would have found about a quarter of it more or less useless.  However, as a writer, I found it the bee’s knees, even the second time through.  I originally read this before I started freelancing in mid-May last year.

I read it this time with different eyes, looking at the mistakes and saying, “Yep, I did that, I did that…”  In retrospect, I would have been wiser to stay at my day job for another year before I left, to save up more money and do more research, but there are some mistakes you have to make or you stop being completely yourself.  I have made a beeline for those mistakes in the past, and this time was no different.  If I  had it to do it all over again, I would do it the same…or maybe even earlier.  There’s a part at the end of the book that helped me come to grips with that:  there are some goals and dreams that you have to start by a certain point in your life if you’re going to have time to achieve them, and it’ll probably take me another 10 years to get to the point where I’m a successful freelance fiction writer.  I’m not ready to wait until I’m 65 to make that start happening.

If you’re considering freelancing, especially in the writing field, you should read this book. If you’re already a freelancer, you should read this book on a regular basis.  It’s thorough enough that you’ll have to think about most aspects of your business and whether it’s still working, whether you need to reassess how you feel about what you’re doing, and help you identify areas where you need tweaks.

This time through, I’ve been thinking I need to:

  • Get my will done, finally, dammit.
  • Set up emergency plans and a chain of CYA.
  • Learn more about accounting.
  • Get more hustling done.
  • Work on building my self-confidence so I don’t choke up when I ask for money.
  • Set up a ghosting page on my website to explain what it is and how they can hire me to do it.

Kris notes that most freelancers fail at their first business.  I know that if Lee weren’t supporting me, I’d be back to a day job already.  So I’m frantically trying to learn faster, learn more, and get rid of stupidity.  The essays in the book make for a good way to clarify that, instead of winding up into a ball of doom.

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