17 Best Books for Freelancers in the Film Industry (2024)

17 Best Books for Freelancers in the Film Industry
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No matter what type of freelancer you are, we creative freelancers can always use some guidance and inspiration in the freelancing life.  After a difficult few years of the COVID pandemic followed by two simultaneous union strikes in the industry, you may not feel like a very successful freelancer in your freelancing career right now.  I wrote this post on the best books for freelancers in 2024 to provide some much-needed inspiration.

I believe you can still have the career of your dreams as a creative professional.  However, we may all need a fresh take and a different perspective on the freelancing world, which is why I put together this list of the 15 best books for freelancers in the film industry.

(Note: This post may contain affiliate links from Amazon and other vendors.  That means if you buy something through one of the links, I make a small commission at no additional cost to you.  It helps cover the cost of running this blog.)

Below is my list of the 17 best books for freelancers to inspire and guide you on your freelancing journey. 

1. Atomic Habits by James Clear

Atomic Habits is a #1 New York Times best-selling book that’s sold over 10 million copies worldwide, and I’ve found it a highly useful book in my own life and freelance career.  

James Clear is an expert on habit formation, and his book is an easy-to-understand guide containing proven ways for forming good habits and breaking bad ones.  If you’ve ever wanted to adopt more of the habits of highly effective people but feel stuck, this complete guide explains everything you need to know about forming new, more positive habits. 

Transforming your habits will transform your success, and Atomic Habits is the ideal guide for transforming your personal life and the way in which you approach your creative work.  

2. The Freelancer’s Bible by Sara Horowitz

Sara Horowitz is an authority on freelance working and the founder of the Freelancers Union and the Freelancers Insurance Company.  The Freelancer’s Bible is her all-encompassing guide filled with practical advice for becoming a successful freelancer.  This book is especially useful for those in our industry working as freelance independent contractors rather than union members who are considered employees.  

However, as many of us also run small businesses within the industry, Horowitz provides some much-needed guidance that can help every business owner.

3. This Year Will Be Different by Monika Kanokova

This book is filled with tips and inspiring stories of women who are now finding success in various fields within creative industries.  This Year Will Be Different is a useful book for anyone who wants to start their own business in a creative industry or become a freelancer.  You’ll find inspiration from the interviews, tactics, and stories of the successful women profiled here to apply to your own freelance career.

4. Real Artists Don’t Starve by Jeff Goins

Bestselling author Jeff Goins dispels the myth of the starving artist in this book for creatives.  He offers practical advice for thriving as a successful creative, such as stealing from your influences rather than waiting for inspiration and collaborating with others instead of working alone.  It’s an insightful read for any creative in the world of freelancing.

Goins offers some inspiring anecdotes of successful creatives and reminds us that business and art are not mutually exclusive pursuits, which is a useful reminder for all creative freelancers.  Real Artists Don’t Starve celebrates the process of becoming an artist who utilizes the imagination in fundamental ways, something every creative freelancer can use to their advantage in their own freelance business.

5. Linchpin by Seth Godin

Best-selling author Seth Godin’s books have reached millions of readers worldwide and regularly appear on lists of the best business books.  In Linchpin, Godin explains how anyone can make a significant impact within their organization by being a linchpin, becoming indispensable, and overcoming the resistance that holds people back.  

Godin writes: “You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious.  Only you can do it, and you must.”  Those are inspiring words for anyone who feels their creative work is undervalued.

6. The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

The 4-Hour Workweek, a New York Times bestselling book, is a practical guide for finding the best way to find fulfillment in both work and life and achieve the often elusive work-life balance.  Ferriss challenges the 9-5 rat race of the corporate world in favor of short work bursts and “mini-retirements,” which is well-suited to anyone pursuing a career as a freelancer.  He looks at work in a different way and gives tips for maximizing your output while minimizing the amount of time you spend working to live your best life.

Ferriss also includes real-life examples of people who have doubled their income and reinvented their lives.  It’s a great book for any freelancer who’s ready to redesign their life, and the practical tips and tactics in this book can serve as a starting point for creating your own successful business and ideal lifestyle.

And what freelancer doesn’t want that?

7. Grit by Angela Duckworth

If there’s one trait freelancers in our business and every other business need, it’s tenacity.  A celebrated researcher and professor, author Angela Duckworth examines what’s really behind outstanding achievement in any endeavor in her book Grit, and it isn’t talent or luck. This well-researched book is a great read and serves as a helpful reminder that we just need to keep moving forward toward our goals, even when achieving them seems less than certain.

I’ve returned to this book often when I need motivation, as it offers great insights into how others have achieved peak performance through a combination of passion and perseverance.  That quality is what Duckworth calls grit, and it’s something every freelancer and business owner can use more of to achieve the success they desire.  

8. Company of One by Paul Jarvis

In Company of One, Paul Jarvis offers the business strategy of staying small rather than scaling up to find success by being better, not bigger.  Anyone sick of soulless corporate hierarchy will find Jarvis’ guide to finding fulfillment by staying small in your own business a welcome relief from the pressures of a growth-oriented business.  

As Jarvis states in the book, technology is constantly improving, allowing one person or a tiny team to accomplish a great deal.  

You can do better work in your freelancing business and pursue more of the pleasures in life by keeping your business small.  This is an essential guide that offers an honest approach, with examples and strategies, to finding success in your business while staying small.  

9. My So-Called Freelance Life by Michelle Goodman

Michelle Goodman is a self-proclaimed “wage slave” who escaped the cubicle life to embark on a career as a freelance writer.  My So-Called Freelance Life was written for creative freelancers, with tips, advice, and answers to many of the questions women have about the freelance world.  

It’s a unique guidebook that blends anecdotes from a variety of freelancers and offers advice for both new freelancers and more experienced creative professionals.  Goodman has been a creative freelancer for many years, and My So-Called Freelance Life is a practical guide that helps readers avoid the mistakes she made along the way. 

10. The Big Leap by Martina Flor

The Big Leap is a guide to freelancing for creatives, and the book covers all aspects of being your own boss in your own creative business.  Flor is a leading designer, educator, author, and entrepreneur, and she shares helpful case studies from her journey in this easy-to-follow guide for creatives across all disciplines.  

Whether you’re a graphic designer, web designer, writer, or work on set, The Big Leap offers insights on topics ranging from identifying potential projects and pricing your services to diversifying revenue streams, finances, and time management.  

As Flor states in the Introduction, “As creatives, we’ve spent a lot of time learning and mastering our craft and cultivating our talent, but usually not much time learning how to make a living with them!”  That’s true for many freelance creatives, which is reason enough to get this book. 

11. Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less by Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

One thing we film industry freelancers never seem to get enough of is rest.  In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, Silicon Valley business consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang dispels the myth that overwork makes us more productive.  Pang provides scientific research with examples of successful creatives to challenge our tendency to see work and relaxation as polar opposites.  

We can’t do great work when we’re exhausted, and this book offers a roadmap for getting more rest in our lives so we can be at our most creative and productive.

12. The Multi-Hyphen Life by Emma Gannon

British author and podcaster Emma Gannon believes most of us “are not built to dedicate our lives to just one thing.”  The Multi-Hyphen Life is a book about using our own entrepreneurial spirit to design a life where we work less, create more, and find financial stability.  

Technology has empowered us to work in ways that work for us and provide the life we envision.  We no longer have to be tied to traditional jobs but can create our own careers where we do more than one thing, meet our own creative needs, and stay open to change.

13. The Freelance Introvert by Tom Albrighton

Freelancing introverts, this book is for you.  In some ways, freelance work is ideal for introverts.  Albrighton writes, “Freelancing offers introverts a way out – a chance to work alone, control their workload and create their own workspace.”  

But as we freelancers know, freelancing also has its challenges, and Albrighton guides you through the steps needed to make your freelance business a success.  The Freelance Introvert is a guide that covers everything from getting your freelance business up and running and time management to marketing yourself and working with clients.  

Tom Albrighton is a veteran freelancer and an introvert, so he understands the challenges introverts face. The Freelance Introvert is a book that can help you build a thriving freelance career without changing who you are.

14. The Six-Figure Freelancer by Laura Briggs

This is a good book for freelancers who want to take their freelance careers to the next level but don’t know what steps they need to take to achieve six-figure business success.  Laura Briggs is a writer, coach, and public speaker, and in The Six-Figure Freelancer, you’ll find actionable steps to take to make your freelance career successful.

The book delves into time management, virtual assistants, raising your rates, and finding high-value clients.  It also contains downloadable cheat sheets, helpful exercises, and tips for avoiding pitfalls in your business.

15. The Human Freelancer by Chris Kenworthy

The Human Freelancer is a unique and irreverent take on what it means to be a freelancer by freelancer Chris Kenworthy.  This witty, empathetic, and honest book offers emotional support, especially to anyone who, as Kenworthy writes, “ wants to earn a living on their own terms however you identify yourself.”

The Human Freelancer contains plenty of humor and is a welcome antidote to many of the boring, overwhelming business books out there.  If you’re ready to use your skills and experience to build a life that works for you, Kenworthy has plenty of helpful advice.

Gary Clap’s amusing illustrations in the book perfectly complement the written material.

16. Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

Rework challenges many conventional ideas of what you need to start and run your business.  What you don’t need, according to the authors, is a business plan, staff, or even an office.  They’re excuses that keep us from the most important thing of just getting started and doing the work, whether we’re entrepreneurs, business owners, or freelancers.

Fried and Hansson are the founders of the highly successful project-management software company Basecamp, and they stress that their company is small, frugal, and profitable.  Rework reminds us that there’s a new reality, and today’s technology allows anyone to build a business for minimal cost.  

The authors tell us that “The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse.  It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.”  Rework shows you how to be more productive with counterintuitive ideas that are sure to inspire you and spark your creativity.  

17. The Book on Acting Volume I by Sean Dillingham

This new book is for all the actors in the freelance community who are trying to figure out what they need to do to have a successful career in the industry.  Sean Dillingham is a working actor and acting teacher who knows what it takes to succeed in the business as an actor, and he has plenty of insights to share.  

I’ve taken Sean’s improv class for years, both online and in person, and watched his career progress.  In The Book on Acting Volume I, he shares what he’s learned through experience along the way.  

Final Thoughts

So that's my list of seventeen of the best books for freelancers in 2024. As freelancers, we can never stop learning and growing as we build our careers and businesses, and the books listed here have plenty of helpful information to help us do that.  We just have to keep our minds open to new ideas and possibilities and be willing to do the work.  

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