Editor, Writer

Rachel Kramer Bussel

I work two days a week as a copywriter at the offices of a retail company, and the rest of the time I’m a freelance writer for various national and regional publications, largely focusing on sexuality, dating, and culture, as well as personal essays. I also edit 2-3 short story anthologies per year, teach erotica writing classes and consult about writing with private clients. I generally work anywhere from 30-50 hours per week, and my S-Corp business has grossed six figures for the last three years. I was laid off from my full-time magazine editor job in 2011 and have worked for myself ever since then. My current business brings in over twice the rate of my previous full-time salary.

The two biggest reasons freelance work is important to me are that full-time media jobs are few and far between, given the increasingly volatile nature of the news business, and that I’m able to bring in a far greater income than I would otherwise. Additionally, I’ve chosen not to drive for the last 15 years, and working from home or within walking distance of my home enables me to avoid a long and costly commute while maximizing my time. Instead of commuting during rush hour, I’m working. I’m more productive as a freelance worker because I’m not beholden to a strict 9 to 5 schedule, and that flexibility has enabled me to write for publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Marie Claire, O, The Oprah Magazine and others during the course of my time as a full-time freelancer.

Why I’m Worried: What worries me most about S4204 and A5936 is that I would lose my livelihood and be forced to either move out of the state or rely on my boyfriend’s income, while I looked for likely minimum wage work on a full-time employee basis. As someone who grew up in Bergen County through age 17 and has lived in New Jersey again for the past six years, I’d be dismayed to have to leave my home state in order to make a living at my chosen career.

What Legislators Need to Know: I’d like them to be aware that in both my role as a copywriter and my work with my publisher and writing clients, I’m required to meet with the people I do business with. I should not be penalized for doing so in the name of protecting exploited workers, who I fully agree should be treated and compensated fairly under the law. I have far greater earning potential and flexibility as a freelancer than I ever could as a full-time employee, and am far from exploited. This overly broad legislation would impede my ability to engage in the only career I’ve had in my adult life. I’ve spent the last 20 years building up my name and professional profile so that I could contribute to top tier publications and become known in my field. These bills threaten that status. Furthermore, if I’m unable to earn a decent living in New Jersey, my household will have far less money to spend in our community, as we will be scraping by.