Journalist as Author: Rebecca Seal – SOLO: How To Work Alone (and Not Lose Your Mind)
By Phoebe-Jane Boyd
6 Oct 2020
from home on your own and starting to lose it a little? Author, writer and Sunday
Brunch expert Rebecca Seal knows just what you’re going through. With a decade
of experience as a freelancer for publications including The Guardian, The
Daily Telegraph and Conde Nast Traveller, her latest book SOLO: How To Work
Alone (and Not Lose Your Mind) explores how to make working alone work for
you introduce your book in a couple of sentences?
wrote SOLO: How To Work Alone (And Not Lose Your Mind) because I needed
it – I had
been freelance for five years when I had the idea, and was having quite a hard
time coping with working by myself. When I couldn’t find a book to help
me, I realised I had to write one. It took a few years (I had two kids in
between the idea and publishing!) but I got there in the end, and now the book
is designed to be a toolkit full of questions to help solo workers figure out
who they are and what they need at work, as well as practical advice from
academics, scientists, experts and other solo workers who shared their stories
you working on another book, or do you have other projects under way?
am working on another cookbook for the LEON restaurant group – this will be my fifth
co-authoring role with LEON. Other projects include my usual round of
journalism – I’ve
got a feature for Sainsbury’s magazine under way at the moment, as well as
another for The Telegraph.
you offer any advice to other journalists thinking about writing a book like SOLO?
agent first and try and ensure they get you a decent book deal. It took almost
half a year, more or less full time, to write SOLO, and I definitely missed out
on other jobs and had to turn work down in order to meet the deadline. Book
unless you’re really lucky – don’t ever tend to be huge these days, but an agent
should be able to get you enough money to fund the time you will be working on
a book. The other thing to remember is that although it may feel really hard to
turn work down in favour of meeting a book deadline, most of your clients will
understand (it’s good to let people know in advance, if you can) and will come
back after the deadline has passed. And in addition, books do help generate
work in the future, so you can think of it as something of an investment in
work down the line.
books are you reading right now, or about to pick up?
reading Underland by Robert MacFarlane, which is an extraordinary book
about spaces underground, both manmade and natural. In the part I just read, he
had spent several days beneath Paris, wriggling through tiny gaps in the caves,
tunnels and catacombs which lace the ground under the city.
there any other examples of your everyday journalism that you’re especially
proud of or would just like to share?
I am really proud of this piece for The Guardian, written partly during lockdown, about the pandemic and food waste – it was incredibly complex and detailed.
In terms of the work I’ve done which has had the most impact, this has been the most important. It’s a piece about my experience of having IVF and I still, five years on, get emails and messages from strangers saying it’s given them hope, or expressed their experience of infertility in a way that they could not, or allowed them to have conversations with the people around them about what they’re going through.
you available for freelance commissions, speaker opportunities or other roles?
all of the above! In particular, I am really enjoying giving talks to companies
about how to support their newly remote workers – it turns out that because I now know so much
about how workers can thrive in relative isolation, I have some expertise which
is really useful.
a PR professional with a story or another opportunity for you, how should I get
free to drop me an email if you’ve got a story that falls into my areas of
expertise (food, drink, work). I get hundreds every day, so please don’t be
offended if I can’t respond to everything I receive – I have to do the work which pays the bills,
and sadly email does not.
SOLO: How To Work Alone (And Not Lose Your Mind) (17.09.2020, Souvenir Press) is available here. Follow Rebecca Seal on Twitter @RebeccaSeal.