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Alan Earls

If are considering becoming a contractor or even moving up to consultant status there are plenty of rewards -- and just as many pitfalls. Two books can help you identify and make the most of your storage expertise in these two realms. "Answers for computer contractors," by Janet Ruhl (Technion Books, Leverett, MA) is authoritative and well-organized.

The author has written extensively on this topic and related consulting topics as well. "Answers for computer contractors" fills in some more blanks for both new and experienced contractors with a hard-hitting, well-organized collection of facts and figures about compensation as well as collected wisdom about how to negotiate higher compensation rates. Organized in question and answer format, "Answers" is extremely accessible and easy to use. There is also good advice on ways to actually EARN higher compensation by delivering more value to the customer.

And if consulting is your dream, consider, "How to be a successful computer consultant," by Alan R. Simon (McGraw Hill, New York). The fact that it is in its 4th edition speaks volumes for it. This edition includes new chapters about how to succeed in corporate consulting settings, how to best define the boundaries of a new consulting engagement, and how to deal with difficult client situations. This new material clearly applies to all consultants, whether independent or working for a consulting firm. However, some of the book's details are not as contemporary as one might like -- even though the edition is only a few years old. Still, it's a great way to begin the process of turning your skills into a practice.

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About the author: Alan Earls is a freelance writer in Franklin, Mass.

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