Hump-Day Help: Advice From the Doers! (Part II)



As promised, part two of the advice I gathered from the doers in the business, be it writing, acting, producing, editing, and so on, is here for you today.

If you would like to read Part I first, you can find it HERE.

Part II now, comin’ at ya…starting with one of my favorite people; someone I’ve known since he was a teen (in an adult’s body), the Super-Tall, Super-Talented, Mark Rose (Stunt Coordinator for Skye of the Damned, my web series)…


This can be a hard business. The most important thing, I think, is: BE PROFESSIONAL. Your reputation is just as important as being good. Be nice to everyone because you never know who will be in a place to give you a job in the future. Don’t get in the way of someone else doing their job, and make your superior look good by following direction and always doing the best job you can. Be reliable and be consistent, and don’t lie about your skills or experience. Early is on time, on time is late, and late is fired. Finally, if you want to make this your career, you must be persistent. NEVER STOP. You will get 1 gig for every 100 auditions at first, if you’re lucky. If you cultivate a good reputation, and are half way decent at what you do, your success rate will get better. You can’t take rejection personally. There are a million reasons you might not get a job, and most of them have nothing to do with anything you can control.

Mark A. Rose / Stuntman with SAG-AFTRA & AEA / Employed by The Walt Disney Co. /


Rejections happen. They’re part of the process. No one/project/artwork is ever universally loved. Use the constructive criticism to get yourself closer to the goal on the next go-around. Shake off the criticism that’s not constructive or simply a matter of taste. Persevere. No one ever got ahead by call it quits.

Lucienne Diver / Literary Agent and Author / The Knight Agency /


Be genuine. People will know if you’re false or putting on a show. Not to mention it’s exhausting and no way to live. You be you & love who you are. Also, don’t talk crap about your peers, EVER (even if you think it’s deserved for whatever reason). Not only is it rude and petty, but every community is too small — people will find out & you will have caused drama and hurt feelings. So basically, take an extra half a second and be kind.”

Janine K. Spendlove / Author of the “War of the Seasons” series (Silence in the Library Publishing), and various works of short fiction (most recently “Star Wars: Inbrief”) /


I work best in a community setting. If I give myself deadlines and goals, I’m much less likely to accomplish them. When others are dependent on me, I thrive. That’s why I created a writing group to help everyone I know get started on those plays/films/auditions they talk about doing. Use the people you know. Help each other get shit done. You can all succeed if you work together.

Sam Ogilvie / Actor, Singer, Dancer, Fighter, Director, Zombie / Company Collaborator w/Everyday Inferno Theatre Co.


Don’t be afraid to change. Revision is life; it is the re-seeing of all the things you do. If it’s not right the first time — or even if you think it is — be open to revising. Seeing things differently serves you well not only as a writer but in life itself.

Melissa Gilbert / Editor & Owner, Clicking Keys /


It won’t happen all at once. Focus on you and not everyone around you. Audition and then forget about it because you most likely won’t find out why you didn’t get the role. Fall in love with yourself and the rest will follow.

Lauren Steinmeyer / Actress /


Never give up on your passion. It helps to anchor you during rough times, it keeps you honest, it keeps you whole. But realize that over the course of your life, you may express your passion–art, writing, music, etc.–in different ways depending on what you need and what you are able to give at the time. Making it a full-time job is one way to honor your passion, but there are many others and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you live out your passion in a variety of ways over the course of your life.

So full-time isn’t the only way, and part-time doesn’t mean you’ve sold out. Life is full of things you don’t expect to happen, so it’s good to have a back-up plan on how to earn money. That can be a degree, work experience, or marketable skills, but you should always have something to tide you over because while there is no safe job anymore and no guaranteed career path, art is rockier than many ways to make a living, and the cash flow isn’t even. If you decide to strike out full-time from the beginning, count the cost. Don’t put off other things that make you whole–like relationships, a safe place to live, enough to eat, health care, etc.–until you ‘make it big’ because you never get the years back, even when you get where you’re going.

So love your art, but love yourself too, and don’t buy into the ‘starving artist’ crap. Most of all, listen to the you deep inside. If you want something badly enough, you’ll figure out how to make it happen. The path to getting what you want is usually full of twists and turns and it takes longer than you expect and sometimes you’ll hit a dead end and have you regroup and start fresh, but if you want it badly enough, if it’s what your soul requires to keep you sane, don’t let anything stand in your way.

Gail Z. Martin / Author of The Shadowed Path, Vendetta, and other books /


Hobbies are wonderful things. They bring fun and passion to life, and they do so partly because they are not professional activities and therefore aren’t tied to rent/mortgage payments, grocery bills, health insurance and the rest. You do them because you love them. And that’s good.

When you turn a hobby into a profession you start having to worry about things you didn’t worry about before (see above re. bills). And it’s a hard way to make a living for all but the most gifted, hardest working and/or lucky. A friend of mine who is a successful Broadway designer (just got a Tony for Hamilton) who says that almost everyone he knows in the industry–at the highest end of the industry, mind you–is a trust fund kid. They are able to pursue their craft–their love–because they don’t need it to pay the bills. The tables of many of New York and LA’s finest restaurants are served by professional actors, some of whom will one day get a big break, but most of whom won’t and will work paycheck to paycheck doing occasional acting gigs. For some that’s ok and for others it’s not, and they will eventually quit.

This is a hard truth. I’m a pretty successful writer and right now could live on my writing, if not especially well. But writing is an erratic business and you are only as good as the sales of your last book, something over which you have surprisingly little control. I say ‘right now’ because I just emerged from a two year dry spell when I couldn’t realistically live on what I made without a lot of cutbacks. So I keep a day job which is solid and gives me a lot of flexibility (at a place which values my writing).

Some people will say that you can make sure your income is steady. I’m skeptical, but even if it were true I’m not sure I would ever want to be entirely dependent on selling my books because I’m afraid that a.) that would shape the kind of writing I did and b.) that I’d have to spend a lot of time promoting my work and being a businessman rather than a writer. Maybe that’s elitist, but it’s closer to where I started: that for me writing is a passion, a love, and as such might be better if it’s a hobby even if, some years, it’s a hobby that generates more money than my day job.

I’m not saying don’t quit said day job. I’m saying that you should take a long, ruthless look at 3 things: Your talent, Your work ethic/productivity as an artist, and your financial reality. Then consider not just whether being a pro artist is feasible but whether it might in some way push you to enjoy your art less, either because you have to commercialize it to survive (making art you don’t truly love) or because you have to professionalize in ways that are at least partly separate from the art itself.

Lastly, I would say I think the decision should be made without considering the old bug bear that you haven’t really made it till you are a strictly and solely professional artist. That’s nonsense. Seek your validation from your work, not on how you introduce yourself at cocktail parties.

This is just my two cents. Your mileage may vary, which is sort of the point.

A.J. Hartley / Professor of Shakespeare Studies (UNC, Charlotte) / Author of the Steeplejack Series, Will Hawthorne Series, Darwen Series, and other books /


Breaking into freelance editing

I got into editing by doing free beta work for authors. I did that for about a year. Based on author feedback I realized what my strengths and weaknesses were. The authors encouraged me to start charging for my services and were willing to pay for what they were getting for free and they recommended me to their friends. By the time I opened Devil in the Details Editing Services I already had a client base.

How to get reviews for your book

I know you are excited when your book is done, but you have to plan far ahead when marketing your book. Reviewers usually have their schedules for the next two months already planned. The best way to ask for a review, if you are personally contacting blogs, is specify that there is no due date. That way if a reviewer is interested they can add it to their cue and not worry about deadlines. If you use a book tour (and really, this is a great way to get reviews because blogs tend to review books for tours companies they have a relationship with) you want to set that up at least 2 months in advance.

Marketing yourself as an author

There are tons of things involved but one of the most basic tools is an author website. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to get information on an author only to find out there isn’t one or the website is a train wreck. Have your author website up and running before your book is published. You never know who will be looking for you once your book is out in the wild.

Keep it simple, identifiable and mobile friendly. If you write horror, don’t have a banner with a kitten on it…seriously, I’ve seen it happen. You want links to your social media (you should have a Facebook page and a twitter if you write for an adult audience) easy to find. Don’t make me search for that shit. Have a professional short bio and picture. I want to be able to cut and paste that puppy into my review. You can have a more casual bio too, with personal info, which is really nice when I am thinking up questions for an interview—help a blogger out! Have covers, blurbs and buy links for your books in one spot. And for the love of Cthulhu, white or light color background and black text. Please! There is a reason books are printed with black text on white pages. Also make sure text is large enough to read on a mobile device.

Sharon Stogner / Freelance Editor (Devil in the Details Editing Services) / Blog Owner (I Smell Sheep)

I hope some or all of these are what someone out there needs to “hear” today. By the time we speak again I’ll be on the other side of ConGregate, a convention I’m excited to be a Guest at this year for the first time down in High Point, NC.  So, if you’ll be attending, please come by and say hello at the Magical Words table (I’ll be there on Saturday and Sunday b/c Friday I’m on panels all day). Speaking of, you can find my Panel Schedule HERE (for desktop/laptop) OR HERE (for Mobile device).

That’s it for me this time around, so write hard, bathe in imagination, and I hope to see you at ConGregate! If not…I’ll catch you here on July 20th, 6 days before my birthday! 🙂

Tamsin 🙂

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Originally from Michigan, Tamsin L. Silver is the creator/writer of two YA Urban Fantasy Series, Windfire and The Sabrina Grayson Novels, as well as the Web Series, Skye of the Damned. She graduated from Winthrop University with a BA in Theatre/Secondary Education and a minor in Creative Writing/Shakespeare. She has taught both middle school and high school theatre and run two successful theater companies, one of which in the place she currently lives: New York City. You can learn more about her and find links to all her things at


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