My 5 Favorite Things In: The Well-Fed Writer

well fed writer.

When I first read The Well-Fed Writer, it terrified me. Promising to aid me in gaining “financial self-sufficiency as a freelance writer in six months or less,” author Peter Bowerman then went on to sing the praises of cold calling.

When I was growing up, my parents used to collect magazine clippings of articles with such titles as “What To Do When Your Child Doesn’t Speak.” Since then, the state of things has only improved marginally. I’ve only recently stopped taking anxiety medication, and my shrink still insists that it’s okay to use alcohol as “a social lubricant.”

Perhaps I should pour a nice big glass of pinot noir before ringing up prospective clients…

After the jump, the reasons why I find this book invaluable to any freelancer, despite my abject fear of cold-calling.

  1. Bowerman makes goal-setting less intimidating by breaking it down for the reader. He writes of the time he created a chart with the following text: “$100,000 a year, $8,000 a month, $2,000 a week, $400 a day…Where’s the $400 coming from today.” Do a similar exercise with your own yearly goal. When you know how much you need to be making daily to reach that, it can be easier to figure out how you’ll go about doing it.
  2. Bowerman takes you step-by step through the process of cold-calling, acknowledging the fear most freelancers have of it and then laying out how to conquer that fear, with tips such as drawing up a script and advice on how to deal with secretaries and voice mail.
  3. The book touches upon the fears we all have, especially upon starting out. Am I good enough to compete in today’s market? Am I disciplined enough to bring in the money?
  4. The “nitty-gritty” of creating a marketing brochure is laid out cold, from design layout to printing costs to launching an entire direct-mail campaign.
  5. The ever-important question of how to set rates is addressed. If you weren’t interested in investing in What To Charge, this section of the book can act as a quick fix. Other money issued are also tackled, such as how to draw up a contract, how to track down overdue checks, etc.

As I type this out, it occurs to me that I could stand to re-read Bowerman’s book. One can always use a refresher.


  1. […] I’ve never been much interested in corporate copywriting, these books taught me the importance of setting quantifiable goals, cold-calling, marketing materials, rates, […]

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