As a mentioned previously, I found both The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube and My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire online after reading a number of reader’s reviews. I was looking for books written for young women interested in starting a freelance writing career. I didn’t notice that the same author -Michelle Goodman – wrote both books until I unpacked them. I’ll be paying closer attention to author’s names in the future.
I decided to start with the Anti 9 to 5 Guide since it was written first. I quickly learned that this was not the guide that I had anticipated. Before I go too far, I want to say that there was some great career advice in here – from time management to ideas for making your career suit you – but the overall tone of the book did not appeal to a twenty-five year old woman.
I come from a world of biology textbook, classic literature, and blog posts. I like my information to be concise, somewhat formal, and focused so I can speed-read through and pick out the ideas with ease. Both of these books were written very conversationally for an audience that I imagine appreciates a little humour; I found this style distracting and exhausting. The books also included a significant number of stories and quotations from established women, which proved to be interesting, although I would have preferred to hear a little more of the author’s own experiences.
The Anti 9 to 5 Guide progressed from a helpful guidebook for people considering moving from an office job to a freelance/flex-time gig, to an unfocused advocacy for pursuing your dreams no-matter-how-unusual. Now I appreciate women taking on careers that fall outside the norm, but as I read though page after page of ladies-only advice, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Volunteering abroad and working in male-dominated fields are hardly novel! These ideas didn’t fit cohesively with the theme of the book.
My So-Called Freelance Life was a huge step up from Ms. Goodman’s first book. Gone are the unnecessary check-lists and phrases like “Now before you slam this book shut…”. This book was much more focused and provided a great beginner’s guide on building your own freelance business up from scratch. It progressed in a logical way: from naming your business, to licensing, pricing your work, negotiating contracts, and paying taxes. Gentle encouragement was provided throughout, without getting too silly (although a particularly long paragraph of “I won’t tell you…. or …. or….” in the final chapter made me consider slamming the book shut once-and-for-all).
After reading through both of these books, I would have to say that I could have done without The Anti 9 to 5 Guide, but My So-Called Freelance Life made up for it with plenty of applicable advice. I found plenty of great tips to get me started and ended up learning a lot about the style of books that I get the most from. This, and a blog post sent to me on blog readability, have ignited a new interest in the readability of writing. So once again, I’ve taken away an unanticipated lesson from a book I read.