Thursday, March 26, 2009

Quittin' Time?

If at first you don't succeed...
Winners never quit...
You can do anything if you put your mind to it.

All our lives, we're encouraged to pursue our dreams. To set ambitious goals and work toward them. We hear success stories of those who created thriving businesses, sold their novels, got the part that launched an acting career.

We don't hear much about those who failed...those who really tried, who worked diligently for years but just couldn't get where they wanted to go.

So how do you know if it's time to quit? Should you give up on a troubled relationship, the career change that hasn't paid off, the novel you can't seem to sell? When does an endeavor go beyond "persistence pays" to beating your head against the wall or even TSTL (too stupid to live--a critique given to a romance novel heroine who does something completely out of character or plain stupid)?

Maybe there's a better use of your time, money and energy.

I'm seriously considering abandoning my pursuit of publication. Though multi-published friends and industry professionals praise my writing--an editor recently said "incredibly talented"--faithful readers know I haven't sold after 15 years and 10 completed manuscripts. Yes, there are those who have taken even longer and written even more books before selling. But there are also many who sold their second or third manuscripts in a mere handful of years.

So do I write ms #11? Keep submitting the others, because all it takes is getting the right story in front of the right person at the right time? Or do I cut my losses and quit?

CNN: Ten reasons you should quit

Should you quit?

When the going gets tough...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

What are you worth?

How much should you get paid for what you do?

In the acting world, you can get paid nothing for being in a play, despite hours spent rehearsing and performing. Getting experience, a credit for your resume, having something to invite agents to, and maybe working with a prominent director/theatre company are supposed to be enough. On the other hand, some VO jobs I record at home I can get $150 for less than an hour of work. Which may seem like a lot until you realize that union VO actors can earn thousands for a national commercial that took them less than an hour to record, because they earn residuals every time it plays.

It's one thing if you apply for a job an are offered a salary. You have a base from which to negotiate. If you can't ask for more money, maybe you can get flex time or more vacation days. If I get booked for a job through an agent, the rates are set. Plus if the client doesn't pay, they follow through.

Setting rates for jobs that don't come through agents can be a challenge.

I've learned the general range for various types of projects, and I have VO friends to go to for advice. While I want to get what my time, talent and experience are worth, I don't want to price myself out of the job. The hardest to bid on are opportunities that say the budget is "To be defined." Do I bid per minute, per word, per hour of my time or finished audio, or per project? You have to take into account the length of the project, the amount of editing required, and also where and for how long the project will run. Is it just for the Internet, internal corporate use, a small market for cable, radio or TV? Regional or national? Will it run 13 weeks or should you offer a year buyout? Is it for a toy, game or even a phone app? An educational CD or DVD someone will sell? I saw a post recently for real estate narration that paid based on the cost of the property.

And how much should you get for selling a book? Advances range from nothing for some e-publishers to thousands. Some books sell at auctions. Royalty rates differ. Other contract terms such as print runs, marketing, free author copies may be negotiable.

Should athletes get paid millions for dropping half of the balls they are supposed to catch while teachers make so much less? Supply and demand, letting the market decide...that is the American Way. So I guess we are worth whatever we can get.

How do we not sell ourselves short, especially now, in the midst of so many cutbacks and layoffs?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Too Many Choices

My cell phone contract is about to expire, so I thought I'd do some research to see if it was time to trade in my trusted BlackBerry for an iPhone or another touch screen phone with a larger display and faster Internet access. But the options, price plans and hidden fees boggle the mind.

For me, reliable email is as important as reliable phone service, and I need a QWERTY keyboard. Better Internet access would be a big plus. I don't need or want to pay extra for cameras, MP3s or videos/TV programs on my phone...but some phones come with that stuff anyway.

iPhones may be the bomb, but they're pretty expensive. I couldn't find any AT&T bundle discounts, or worse, figure out what my actual bill would be if I went with them, and their plans seem high. But I can get a 10% discount through an organization I belong to. US Cellular may not have cutting edge phones, but you get free incoming minutes, which is pretty nice. Verizon has all those commercials about how reliable their network is, but I read BlackBerry Storm reviews and wasn't all that impressed. And Sprint...I remember some sort of black and white commercials featuring a building with a yellow Sprint sign...but

I can't keep straight who has rollover minutes or favorite 5 or mobile-to-mobile or whoever you can call as much as you want for free options. So I searched "spreadsheet comparing cell phone plans" and found, which at first seemed like an amazing solution but then made things even more confusing because though they offer a TruBill Estimate, they want you to buy from them. Trying to figure out which site to buy from, with all the free this and bonus that made me dizzy. Who can you trust?

More helpful is the CNET compare plan site. You enter your zip code and choose plans to compare side by side...then move on to the phone options. Except the Verizon plan I picked didn't say anything about its Wireless Internet fee, but it includes free SMS (texting). The chart says in one place that US Celluar has unlimited free weekends, then in another that it has none and you have to pay extra. So I can't rely on that site either.

I guess I'm going to have to go into each carrier's store to find out how much what I want will actually writing.

Friday, March 06, 2009


What have you forgotten lately, and what did doing so cost in frustration or money? Is forgetting a sign of aging or illness, having too much on our plates, or being too stressed or tired? Are we too busy thinking about what we're supposed to do next than where we're putting our car keys right now?

Usually I'm pretty good about remembering because I write almost everything down. But recently, I forgot:
-to blog yesterday. It was my turn to post on a group blog, and in doing that, editing a book for a friend under deadline and dealing with a family issue, I just forgot. It didn't help that I didn't add blogging to my 'To Do' list for that day.
-that I had a ticket for the Lyric's production of Porgy and Bess. I thought I'd entered all opera dates on my calendar. Obviously not. The friend I go with called me on the way there, but I didn't get the message in time. Kind of a costly error.

Sometimes I'm surprised when I open my Day-Timer and see a task written in my handwriting. I don't remember putting it there, but that's the writing down what I need to do on the day it needs to be done, I can clear my head of that item, leaving room for other topics.

These days, a lot of people keep their to do lists on line, using sites like Remember the Milk and Toodledo , or have them on their computer and/or synced with their BlackBerry or phone. But I prefer having mine in writing, on paper. It's more accessible; to me flipping pages is easier than scrolling or remembering to keep a site open, plus I can keep it on my desk next to my computer.

If you'd like to be less forgetful, try:

Banishing Forgetfulness

Combat Forgetfulness

Forgetfulness: Not always what you think