Thursday, June 05, 2008

Making Life Experience Work for YOU

What life experiences have you had that are proving or could prove useful now?

For me, it's the 16 years I spent (sometimes kicking and screaming) in corporate sales and marketing. Many actors and authors, though extremely talented in their craft, lack the skills to self-promote and/or the understanding of the need or interest in doing so. A large part of both businesses is who you know, and no one can know you if he or she hasn't heard of you. Like the lottery slogan, if you're not in it, you can't win it.

So how can you get in the game?

Self-marketing in any field takes time, energy, confidence/moxie, creativity and money.

You need:
--To produce the best promotional materials you can, whether it's the right kind of headshot and resume or a great query letter. Your materials must best represent and differentiate you without going too far outside the box. There are standards and conventions for these items; if you don't meet them you'll probably end up in the circular file. I've heard many agents/editors comment on ridiculous query letters that they toss and too many casting directors/acting agents critique bad headshots they won't bother to give any consideration to.
A fellow actor recently commented about his difficulty in finding an acting agent. Unfortunately, his headshot/resume made it clear why, despite his great look...wrong kind and size of picture, wrong background, and giving irrelevant info with many formatting errors.
So don't shoot yourself in the foot before you even get in the door.
--Knowledge of the business world and professionalism. Sometimes the little things, which usually you can control, really count. Examples: Be on time. Arrive prepared. Follup up in a timely fashion.
--Willingness to invest in yourself. For example, a good Web site doesn't come cheap, and can take a lot of time to create and keep up to date.
--Discipline to do the work every week and not sit back and wait for the phone to ring because you have an agent.
--The ability to push past any fears, whether that fear is of talking about yourself or contacting strangers.
--Get help. Seek advice from those more experienced so you can avoid stupid mistakes.
--Get out there. When possible, get involved in your industry so you can network.

What can you do to improve your self-marketing?


Anonymous said...

I recently had an epiphany on this very subject. I realized that if I don't talk about my writing and tell people about it, they will assume I'm not writing. I know, duh! I guess I've been sitting around expecting people to ask if they were interested. Silly me. LOL! So, that's what I can improve in the area of self-promotion...simply offer information rather than waiting for people to ask!

Great post, Ruth!

Ruth Kaufman said...

Good point, Kelli. It's a challenge at times to remember to sales skills into our writing careers.