Review: “Business Matters” by Elizabeth Frick

Business MattersThis is a review of “Business Matters”, which is based on the author’s blog of the same name.

I’ll have to be honest, I put off doing this review because I was conflicted about this book and because I wanted to take some time to absorb it.

Based on the description of the book, I expected a practical guide to help freelance writers improve their business acumen. To be fair, there are certainly strong elements of that.

But this book is also very much, if not more, a motivational book with tips and anecdotes from the author’s experience. It’s understandable, since the material was adapted from the author’s blog. It’s very well organized, but it still reads very much like a blog and somewhat less like a “how-to” book.

There is a lot of good information in here, if you make a little effort to sift the material. The author provides many useful references but also takes the time to explain the essentials of what she’s referencing. The book is mainly targeted at the freelance technical writing business, with a specific slant toward medical writing and editing. Some of the ideas can be applied to other independent businesses.

Some of the material felt unnecessary to me. If your business is not focused on writing and editing articles for medical publication, you may not get much out of the sections that discuss that. There is also an entire chapter devoted to what Craigslist taught her about “selling stuff”. I would rather read about what her specific business practices taught her about selling her services (although some of that’s in there, too).

There is a lot of blank space in the eBook version. Many chapters are broken up into sections and each section gets its’ own page no matter how much page it takes up. If this was a printed book, that kind of wasted space would inflate the size and cost of the book. As it is, it’s inefficient to have to page through a lot of blank space on an eReader. The book would have greatly benefited from a Table of Contents that helped you to find the chapter and section you’re looking for and not just the major subject headings (Business Strategy, Marketing, Operations). If it had that, I wouldn’t mind the way the book is structured.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to read about other people’s experiences and learn from them, this is a great motivational book with a treasure trove of useful tips. If you’re looking for a hands-on, user-friendly how-to guide and reference, this isn’t it. Despite that, it is well written and organized and I’d say it’s worth reading for anyone who wants to break into the freelance technical writing field.

Reviewer’s Note: I am a member of the O’Reilly Blogger Review program and received a free copy of “Business Matters” which was used to write this review.

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