Journalist as Author: Andrew Don, The Bounty Writer
By Phoebe-Jane Boyd
22 Jul 2021
‘If I could break through the six-figure earnings ceiling as a journalist, it is possible for others, too,’ believes media industry veteran Andrew Don.
With almost 40 years of success within the journalism industry (you may
recognise the name from his reams of bylines across outlets including The
Guardian, the Financial Times, Estates Gazette, The Grocer and many more),
Andrew has compiled lessons and advice in his latest book The Bounty Writer – How to Earn Six Figures
as an Independent Freelance Journalist.
Read on for a
taster from Andrew on the book, the challenges of maintaining a long-lasting
career in the media and how to succeed at doing what you love.
introduce your book in a couple of sentences?
Writer interweaves my personal story with practical advice for
students, those starting out in journalism, established journalists, PRs and
people seeking a career change. I argue that I am nothing special and if I
could break through the six-figure earnings ceiling, it is possible for others,
tell us about how you came to write the book?
In October 2019, I upped sticks from
north London and moved to a small village in West Wales, two minutes’ walk to
the sea with a view to leading a less stressful life – blissful
semi-retirement. At 57, I had come to a stage in life where I was in a position,
personally and financially, to accept or refuse work. I wanted to smell the
daisies before they started growing over me. I figured that after nearly 40
years as a journalist, 30 of them self-employed, I had something to say about
how to thrive as a freelance journalist.
working on another book/which other projects do you have under way?
I am writing a novel that focuses on my two pet subjects of animals and childhood grief . I have another in the planning stages, a mystical thriller which will be my biggest writing challenge to date – a mammoth project. I am hoping to do a zoology degree at some point.
offer any advice to other journalists thinking about writing a book like The Bounty Writer?
You need an
angle. My angle is obviously the six figures, but it is also that I have been
dogged by severe depression and anxiety all my life and suffer severe hearing
loss, much of which I kept secret for most of my career. So, if I can achieve
what I’ve achieved, why not you?
are you reading right now, or about to pick up?
I recently picked up Down to Earth by Monty Don (no relative, as far as I know). It is the first gardening book I’ve read in which his love of gardens hits you like a tonne of compost. His passion oozes through the pages.
examples of your everyday journalism/super-packed career are you especially
proud of, or would just like to share?
I am not particularly proud because, as
they say, pride comes before a fall, but I was particularly happy to be
published in The Observer, The Times and The Guardian. I was especially happy
when my first piece was published in the Financial Times while I was still a
staffer on SuperMarketing. I was happy with the early-morning news service I
delivered for 17 years for Estates Gazette Interactive with other journalists I
sub-contracted, and similar services to Farmers’ Weekly Interactive, Chemical
News and Intelligence, and Martin Information. I loved working news shifts for The
Grocer where both the news editor Ronan Hegarty and the editor, Adam Leyland,
appreciated my passion for the job.
currently available for freelance commissions, speaker opportunities or other
I pick and choose my freelance work now
but it’s always worth checking my availability. I am always happy to provide
training to others but based on my experience rather than conventional wisdom.
If I’m a
PR professional with a story or another opportunity for you, how should I get
Don’t, unless you have really thought
about it from my point of view. What is it that I want? Email me. I’ll come
back to you if I think there’s something I can, or want, to do.