Almost by chance I find that I’ve started a little sideline. Having written and self-published eight books I more or less know my way around the process. I also know that writing books is likely to lose you money, rather than the other way round. I’ve been happy with that situation and have never really sought to monetise my hobby by seeking agents, spending time on marketing, etc.
A year or so ago I was put in contact, by a mutual friend, with a local woman who had a story she wanted to tell. Over a number of months I sat down with her and chatted with a voice recorder discretely placed. I’d transcribe the recordings and slowly we built a book together. Eventually we self-published the book, the client’s name on the cover. Moderate sales to date but unbroken five* reviews on Amazon. The client was happy to have achieved an ambition, I was happy having made a few quid.
Afterwards I wondered if there might be a local market for a Writer For Hire. I ran (and am running) a little classified advertisement in the local paper. I’m happy to say that there has been a steady response. The work is stacking up nicely; one local woman is writing her hilarious and poignant memoirs longhand, I’m typing it up, correcting, critiquing, structuring and advising. Then there’s a shorter project comprising a local lady’s Occupation memoirs. I’ve been entrusted with polishing up the hair-raising story of a guy who survived, amongst other adventures, six months in Bali’s notorious Kerobokan prison; I’m getting involved in a book tracing 100 years of a local football club.
What have I learnt about the freelance life? Firstly, you need to establish mutual trust or you won’t produce your best work. People won’t volunteer personal stuff to someone they don’t trust. Second, this work isn’t a hobby and I owe each client my full care and attention. Third, this is stuff I am good at, enjoy, and can do it from my armchair at any hour if I wish. At other times I’ll take myself off to the library. As to price, this isn’t my primary, or even secondary, source of income (yet). I can therefore work as cheap as I wish. I refuse to ask for upfront payment, and I cap my price so the client isn’t concerned about rising costs.
Having spent a life working with figures I know what I enjoy most.