Peter Bowerman, author of The Well-Fed Writer:Financial Self-Sufficiency As A Freelance Writer In Six Months Or Less, has been a free-lance writer and columnist since 1993. He refers most aptly to himself as a free- lance commercial writer rather than a copy- writer. As he mentions, and I agree, the latter sounds more professional.
Bowerman sums up the life of a freelance commercial writer as “good money, flexible hours, stimulating work, go to bed when you want, get up when you want (most of the time), wear what you want, take vacations when you want, shower and shave when you want,” and all of the other “goodies” we dream about. Sounds great! However, before you run out and purchase the basic essentials to begin practicing as a freelance commercial writer and taking the plunge, I would suggest you carefully read Bowerman’s guide.
Candidly, Bowerman reveals the “nitty gritty” of entering the field and the path to success. The reader is constantly reminded never to lose sight of the fact that not only are you are a writer, but also a self-employed businessperson. As such, the fundamental principles of running your a business are equally applicable. Secrets of marketing, networking, accounting, billing, public relations, business opportunities, and the ups and downs of self-employment are all examined in a friendly down to earth style.
In addition, there is a general overview of the many different facets of commercial writing you can pursue. These include marketing brochures, corporate images, advertising copy, event scripting, video and audio scripting, CD Rom and Cdi scripting, speeches, ghostwriting, radio spots, trade articles, newsletters, direct mail pieces, and more recently web site copy. As you can see, the field is so vast that it is little wonder there exists a huge demand for good writers.
You just have to know the techniques of fishing for business and reeling it in. This is not to say that you don’t need some basic acceptable writing skills, however, you certainly don’t have to be a best selling author or a Pulitzer Prize winner to become a commercial writer.
As Bowerman points out, you don’t have to produce works of art, but rather writing that clearly and simply conveys information-“if you can position yourself as the writer to call when someone needs solid, dependable, consistent copy in one or more fields, you’ll do well.”
As an added bonus, the book contains three impressive appendices presenting samples of sales letters, contracts, brochures, direct mail pieces, writing samples, and there is even a section of interviews with women who practice the profession.
No doubt, this insider’s guide to commercial writing will prove an invaluable tool for anyone contemplating entering the profession, and even for those who already may be involved, but seem to be spinning their wheels with nothing to show for it.