Review: The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds by Peter Bowerman

Peter Bowerman. The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds.

Fanove Publishing, 2004.

For any writer interested in tailoring her freelance work to business clients, Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer: Back for Seconds deserves prime shelf space on her desk. Packed with how-to information and tips from his personal experiences and those of other freelance professionals, Back for Seconds gives writers the blueprint they need to make a successful career of freelance business writing.

Back for Seconds has broad appeal for writers with a variety of backgrounds and circumstances—stay-at-home parents, career changers, part-timers, full-timers’—all are welcomed by Bowerman. Whether you live in the Big Apple or the Little Apple, there’s plenty of commercial writing to go around, from copywriting to annual reports, sales letters to brochures—Back for Seconds will guide writers building their businesses in large markets and small. Profiles of successful freelance corporate writers fill the book (complete with writers’ URLs so you don’t have to just take Bowerman’s word for it) representing a variety of backgrounds and experiences. In Bowerman’s experience, there’s room for everyone at the table; marketing your skills and finding your niche are key.

Cover of Peter Bowerman's Well-Fed Writer
In addition to pages and pages of strategies, examples, testimonials, and personal anecdotes, Back for Seconds includes several valuable appendices. The first is an abridgement of Bowerman’s first book, The Well-Fed Writer (which I found so informative and idea-generating, I went out and bought the first book). Others offer more in-depth interviews with working commercial writers, including how they started their businesses, their niches, and meeting challenges; a step-by-step case study on a business writing project; a quick overview of business structures, taxes, and insurance; writing resources, including books, Websites, newsletters, writers’ groups and organizations; and self-publishing.

Placing a heavy emphasis on sales and marketing of the business writer’s services, Bowerman does more than just tell writers how important it is; he shows readers how it’s done, shares others’ innovative ideas for reaching out to clients, and motivates writers every step of the way, even when it comes to tough tasks like cold-calling potential clients.

Bowerman’s conversational and encouraging writing style puts readers immediately at ease. He never loses sight of the reality of freelancing though, and doesn’t gloss over the hard work it takes to build a business. He’s honest—it may take more than 500 cold-calls before you start seeing a return on your time and effort, however if you keep doing it, it will get easier, and you will see results.

Bowerman’s real skill is motivation; after the cold-calling chapter, even I felt ready to tackle the Yellow Pages (and almost nothing scares me more than cold-calling—what if the person I’m calling thinks I don’t know what I’m talking about??). If you’re serious about being a commercial writer, Back for Seconds will motivate and inspire you to get started on making that dream a reality.

You can buy Peter Bowerman’s books here.