Thursday, April 26, 2012


The Gainfully Unemployed have many options to choose among to forge a productive career. Ideas for new projects pop into our heads, an article sparks a new direction, friends ask for our help with their ventures, offer suggestions or gigs. Which will be to our benefit?

Two paths keep popping up of late, via friends’ advice, experiences, and articles. I’m intrigued because both seem to offer more control of product and placement. But do they offer a better chance of income? Or will I seem like I’m on my way but really be spinning my wheels?

1) Create my own content to showcase my acting/writing: Write and shoot my own funny videos/web series/films to put online or market to industry professionals. It’s not enough to just write any old thing, it has to be good. Maybe I’d build a following, go viral and then talent buyers would come to me. Maybe my as yet unpublished novel turned into a movie treatment would get plucked from the slush pile.

Actors far more well-known and with many more connections than I have done so. I ran into one recently who has a variety of projects in play, one of them for years. Yes, some videos will go viral. Some self-made films/shows will get picked up.

2) Self-publish my manuscripts. I have a few friends (NYT bestsellers who publish backlist and new books, and less well-known authors) who have done so with great success. I know more who aren’t selling that many books.

At the moment, to me, the time, effort and expense with no guarantee of income seems too risky. How much time and money did the writers/actors spend to put their product out there? Would the time be better spent focusing on getting paid work, or is finding new ways to get yourself out there the way to go?

Writers: If you aren’t good at cover and interior book design, formatting, website building/hosting, need to hire people to do those things. You also need to write your own back cover copy and put on many other hats a publisher wears. And when will you write your next book?

Actors: Yes, the costs to produce our own content have dropped significantly. Yes, most of us have friends who might help write/produce/be in our short films. There are sites such as Kickstarter to get investors. How much time/money will you invest, to what end?

Both: If you don’t already have a significant following, it’s more challenging to get your book(s)/film(s) noticed among the millions now available. There’s just so much content out there, from professional to amateur, how do you keep yours from being a needle in a haystack? What can we do to make our projects stand out?

I did self-pub a co-authored non-fiction book, but am finding it a challenge to make significant time needed to promote it. There are some opportunities and contests (I recently entered one that cost $69) for self-published books, but it’s harder to get reviews or interviews without the backing of a publisher. There are film festivals, but can self-producers afford the entry fees, the time to research options and submit?

Some will find the success they seek via self-created content. Some will win the lottery. I'm not sure yet how much I'm willing to invest in self-producing pursuits vs. getting writing and acting work from established publishers and production companies.

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