I reviewed this book on Reading 4 Writers in June of 2007. It's a great book for writers!
Despite what a quick and enjoyable read The Renegade Writer is, the meat of the book is quite substantial. Basically, it presents a list of rules about freelancing that are not as hard and fast as you might think -- and that, actually, would hold you back if you followed them. Some of these rules I've learned to break on my own (or never learned that they were rules in the first place), and others I've been following. Still others are news to me -- such as the idea that you can't break into features for magazines if you start out writing shorts. (The authors debunk this myth, which I never even knew existed.)
My favorite rules to break:
* "Start at the bottom."
* "Be familiar with the magazine before querying it."
* "Don't quit your day job."
I completely agree with Formichelli and Burrell on all of these. There's nothing that says you have to start at the bottom or epitomize the starving artist in order to prove your passion and dedication. And, while researching a publication before querying it is handy and even necessary, I think many writers over-research to put off the actual querying part. (Afraid of rejection, I guess?) As for quitting your day job -- well, I did it! You definitely need savings or a sympathetic significant other to cushion you for the first few months, but if you dedicate your time to honestly looking for freelance work, it shouldn't take long to start generating income.
The Renegade Writer covers pretty much the whole realm of freelancing -- everything from breaking in and querying to rights and contracts. This would be a great book to have on your shelf, whether you are a newbie or old hat!