Review: Freelancer’s Survival Guide

by Kristine Kathryn Rusch.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  anybody interested in making money freelancing (not just freelance writing) should read this guide, especially the Money and Negotiation sections.

She’s still updating it, so keep checking back for updates.

Her husband is Dean Wesley Smith, and he has good posts on “Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing,” too.

Between the two of them, they’ve brought up some ideas I’ve had to chew on – the idea that the agent is your employee, not the other way around; the idea that you have to take responsibility for your own negotiations; the difference between making money and cash flow.  The comments are almost as informative as the posts; Laura Resnick, who will probably never have another agent in her life, makes a strong case for same.  The idea that the agent is a taste-monger who serves as a gateway for the editor–but who is generally neither an editor or a professional writer–is something I’ve been struggling with.

As much as I like some of the agents I’ve met and would want them on my side when it came to helping me hustle, some of them strike me as lazy, over-opinionated gas bags.  Sorry.  No names.  The idea that I need to hire an agent who loves my story and who will champion it for me–um, wait.  Why?  Why does an employee have to love what I do in order to negotiate the best deal for me, personally?  Is there some trick going on, where there are agents who don’t?  WHY?

And, throughout my so-far freelancing career, tentatively started in 2006, have I made $0 from on-spec work?  And an amount of money that I’m not ashamed of on work-for-hire?  Is my writing not good enough to be published?  It is good enough; it is published.  And I got paid for it in a professional manner, too, no bull-crap about being a dollar late and a day short.

What is wrong with this system?  Readers are buying stuff to read.  I’m selling stuff for them to read.  But the stuff I’m selling isn’t the stuff publishers are buying.  Publishers are having a meltdown over e-readers.  WHY?  Because it means cutting staff,  redesigning org charts, and finding new ways to make a profit…but isn’t that what they’re doing anyway?

I don’t think self-publishing is the way for me to go; it will leave me spending less time writing, which is what I do best.  But I don’t just want to be somebody’s content producer, either.  I’m finding ways to balance writing and business, but it isn’t in traditional publishing.  And is isn’t in self-publishing, either.

I guess this turned into more of a ramble than a book review–but as you can see, it’s making me really think, which you should take as a very high recommendation.

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