- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Writer's Digest Books (July 10, 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1582973113
- ISBN-13: 978-1582973111
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,492,893 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Wealthy Writer Paperback – July 10, 2004
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About the Author
Michael Meanwell's career includes working as a freelancer and staff journalist for various publications, including Australia's The Herald-Sun and People. He's also been a PR and marketing consultant for a variety of companies, including Kodak, Ford, and Honda. He lives in Melbourne, Australia.
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The problem I have with "The Wealthy Writer" is that Meanwell wound up creating what amounts to a comprehensive survey of the universe of almost all possibilities for selling one's writing, without really focusing on any particular niche. This book is just a bit too glib with the "world is your oyster" enthusiasm.
Examples of the niches that he covers in this book include: writing "content" for the web, self publication of e-books, speech writing, corporate communications, direct mail, technical writing, and advertising. But he is weak on the reality of marketing to any particular niche. Every niche will be different, with different barriers to entry.
Just one example of this problem is technical writing - most markets for technical writing are incredibly specific about the acceptable career background and skill set that they want to see in a writer. You don't just make a mid-life decision that, among your other writing activities, you want to write technical documentation for the medical equipment, DoD, or semiconductor industries. And you *do* have to specialize in order to find technical writing assignments.
I also didn't see him address the many notorious wastes of time and career dead ends that exist for freelance writers: two of which are the market for ultra-low-paid blog articles (the likes of $5 paid for an article or so) and the poor dynamics of the "outsourcing auction" web sites where you compete with other freelancers for projects. I could see someone jazzed from this book plunging into either venue, and working essentially for fast food wages.
(Just to be fair, the book is copyright 2004. These markets were not that significant back then. But you could see even at that time, for example, that online sites for finding freelance projects tended to be a "traffic jam.")
I realize that specificity wasn't his goal. But each one of the niches that Meanwell describes in "The Wealthy Writer" can be the subject of a separate book or course in its own right. What happens is that you read all of these wonderful scenarios for business, and in the final analysis, you have no real idea what you should do.
Here's my real point: most freelancers really need to choose one specialized service, and focus on that, in order to get traction as a business. Generalist small businesses that try to be all things to all clients usually get nowhere. If Meanwell does consistent business in every one of the niches that he lists in his book, then he is an incredibly gifted renaissance man. Most of us mere mortals have to specialize in order to get off the ground.
I did rate the book higher than I was inclined to, because Meanwell provides some solid operational advice interspersed throughout the book.
I agree with the reviewer that recommended Steve Slaunwhite, Peter Bowerman, and Bob Bly's books on breaking into freelance commercial writing over this book. I would personally lean toward "The Well-Fed Writer" by Bowerman because he thoroughly hammers the marketing issues of starting a writing business.
Lastly, I believe that I am well qualified to critique this book from the perspective of a new writer, which is Michael Meanwell's intended target audience. I found few takeaways that I was comfortable with using.
I found Meanwell's book to be less engaging at times than Bowerman, Bly or Slaunwhite's books, but also found that he went into much greater (and more appreciated) depth in certain areas. For instance, others simply glazed over speechwriting. Meanwell devotes a very indepth chapter to it.
I didn't make nearly as many notes in this book as I did in some of the other similar books, but I can see referring back to this volume on a regular basis. There is a ton of good information here.
Where this book falls slightly behind the previously mentioned authors is mostly in the formatting. In places, Meanwell's work seems crammed and some of the samples he uses have been reduced to a size too small for old geezers to read. These things notwithstanding, I still have to put this book in the "must read" category for the target audience.
Although it may not take you twenty years to write your book, don't let one iota of this author's time be wasted, because he was anything but a slouch for all the research he included in this one-stop tome for a writer to make money.
If you study this piece, though some of the info is a little dated, and properly implement its contents, you can't help but to make a great living at writing.
EDIT: After establishing myself as a writer and earning a steady income myself, I happened to see this book on my shelf and thumbed through it again. In light of my recent experience, I am changing my rating from a three to a one. There really isn't anything helpful in this book.