Interview with Palle Schmidt, Author of 'SOLO - Survival Guide for Creative Freelancers, 2019'

Oct. 4, 2019

I was privileged to invite Palle Schmidt for an interview with BooKecCenTric to discuss their latest book and the inspiration behind it. Enjoy!


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What's your book SOLO - Survival Guide for Creative Freelancers, 2019 about, and what inspired you to write it?
SOLO was the book I myself was looking for on the shelves and didn't find. Even after working as a creative freelancer for 20 years I'm still hungry to learn and I read a lot of books on entrepreneurship. But all those books seem to assume you want growth, to build an empire. I'm really just looking to build a sustainable career for one person, balancing work-for-hire with my own projects. SOLO became a way for me to put all my thoughts and experiences into a cohesive narrative, hopefully both inspirational and actionable.
Who is your target audience, and why do you think this book will appeal to them?
I'm speaking to artists who have a unique expression and drive to create - whatever it is the form of music, writing, pottery or comics. I want to help people build a sustainable career. SOLO is meant to a zero BS guide to life as a freelance creator that you can return to again and again for eye opening insights and hands-on advice. And hopefully it will put a smile on your face and make you think: I can do this!
What message do you wish to pass across to your readers with this book?
We live in a time of low job security, outsourcing and automation. But times have never been better for independant creators! The gatekeepers you used to have to go through to get a book, an album or a TV-show made are no longer relevant. Anyone with a smartphone, a computer and an internet connection can do almost anything from anywhere. I would love for people to come away from SOLO empowered, to feel like they don't need to rely on a "real" job to pay the bills. You can absolutely create your own job and not have to rely on the whims of one company or a psycho boss to put food on the table.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
SOLO actually came very easy for me. I'm used to writing fiction but in this case I didn't have to make anything up or find a unique voice for a character. This book is written very much how I talk and contains only knowledge and experience I live and breathe. I could talk about this stuff all day long! Of course as a writer, you always get doubts along the way. In this case writing in English was something that easily could have tripped me up if I had let it. As it turns out I know how to recognize Resistance (as Steven Pressfield calls it) and put it in the corner while I work. And as far as the language goes I got a US editor on board to make sure there aren't any missteps.
As a writer, is there anything you've learned about yourself while writing this book?
Oh, I learned a TON writing this book, it's half memoir! Putting my thoughts into writing like this made it much clearer for me how I feel about creativity and business and how the two intermingle. The email templates I wrote up for the book I've started to use in my own business and is has made a huge difference in my work. Now I don't have to mull over how to say no to a job or formulate the right pitch email to an influencer, I just use my own templates!
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books, and why?  
I'm a dinosaur. I recognize the benefits of ebooks and understand it's a great way to reach an audience and get your message across. For some reason I just tend to forget I have a book I'm reading, if it's not sitting on my desk. I have designed and illustrated the interior of SOLO as a traditional book and look forward to seeing it in paperback soon. My own test copy is already battered and curled and full of notes.
What is your niche genre, and if you were to write in a different genre, what would it be?
Well, SOLO is a non-fiction book aimed at other freelance creators and I teach creativity and comics over at comicsforbeginners.com. But in my fiction work it's almost always crime noir. I like telling stories of deeply flawed characters in over their head and

What books and authors have most influenced you?

I'm very much influenced by the American hardboiled tradition, like Chandler, Hammet and Ellroy. So it's really no surprise that some of my favorite comics are basically crime stories as well, like Frank Miller's Daredevil, Batman and in later years Brian Azzarello's 100 Bullets and Ed Brubaker's Criminal.

Is there anything you'd like readers to know about you?

No, I want to remain shrouded in mystery, ha ha! No, if people are considering to read SOLO, I'd like them to know I've lived it and will be brutally honest about the mistakes I've made and continue to make. I'm not trying to blow smoke up people's butts. I know so many creators who botch the job because of their own mindset or are afraid to charge premium for their work and I think you can easily tighten up the business aspect of things without becoming a total sleaze bucket car salesman. My philosophy is very clear in the book and I'm very transparent.

Do you have any more books in the works?

Right now I'm working on series of crime noir books for the Danish market and have a few comics projects in the works. If people want to check out my comics work, both my crime noir graphic novels The Devil's Concubine and STILETTO are available in English, both on Comixology and Amazon.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I only get good reviews! Total lie of course... I read ALL reviews at this point, but I try to only take in the good ones. As a creator, your confidence is probably the single most important asset you have. If you find yourself getting derailed by other people's opinions, then you have to tune them out - at least for a while until you get your groove back. I'm my own worst critic so I'm usually able to shrug off some doucheblogger who hasn't realized my genius, ha ha!


What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you?


People can always reach me through the contact page at my website, palleschmidt.com. The site for SOLO is http://bit.ly/solo-book and there is a free 20-page sample there, no email required or anything.
Any additional comments you would like to add?
Well, if I could get on my soap box for one final sermon I would like to say this: You don't need to have a huge hit, a million followers or build an empire to make a living as an artist. You can fill most of your days with joy and wonder, exploring your own creativity, rather than clock in at a crappy job you don't like. It's never been easier to get in front of an audience or learn the skills you need to carve out a creative niche for yourself. Even though I'm sometimes only scraping by and worry about paying the bills, I wouldn't trade with anyone. The fact that I don't have a boss and I get to decide how I spend my days and who I work with, that's priceless.

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Palle Schmidt is a Copenhagen-based author and artist, published in Denmark and in the US (graphic novels The Devil’s Concubine and STILETTO, and Thomas Alsop from BOOM! Studios, dubbed “best mini-series of 2014” by USA Today). His latest book SOLO - Survival Guide for Creative Freelancers is an attempt to pass on all the lessons learned in the past 20 years of working freelance. http://bit.ly/solo-book


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