Fuel for My Jetpack, Mead for My Dragon Supplement –

Fan to Pro by Steven Savage

A Review

The engineering major gazing at the movie screen, wishing he had been at the computers of WETA studios when Gandalf took on the Balrog.  The retired warehouse worker with his Steelers jersey, hat, socks, beer mug – and faded fantasies of being on the gridiron during the big game.  The overworked store manager who had been told her singing voice was angelic, but that her dreams of singing for the masses were impractical and childish.

From an early age, we are told that our various fandoms – be they for sports, entertainment, recreational sciences, art, whatever – are just silly wish-dreams that should be put aside for the rigors of the seemingly more practical day-in-day-out of work.  We may find no joy in ‘work’, in fact, we may even hate it – yet, we attend our duties faithfully while dreaming of more desirable activities.

Why do we do this?  Sure, we have to keep from starving, but why are people always encouraged to relegate their fandoms to their off hours, always warned against turning their passions into paychecks?  Are we obligated to condemn that which brings us happiness the joyless realm of Never-Everland?

Fan-to-Pro: Unlocking Career Insights With Your Hobbies is a work that doesn’t merely seek the answer to that question; author Steven Savage and editor Jessica Hardy intend to help you get past it.

Fan-to-Pro is a book that revels, praises, exults, and joyfully rolls around in the world of fandom.  Though he has a background in science-fiction and fantasy fandom (as well as extensive experience in IT and career recruiting), Savage makes it clear that fandom covers any number of celebrated subjects, from the aforementioned sci-fi, to sports, and even art.

As the title implies, Fan to Pro refers to turning your hobby into a career that you would love.  What makes the book special is how much it puts itself in the corner of the fan.  A touching element of Chapter 3 is where Savage delves into “Fandom Edges”.  These would be common traits seen among die-hard fans that give them a particular advantage when striving for their goal.  In these fans, Savage sees qualities such as experience, knowledge and passion, tools inherent in any successful artist, football player or entrepreneur.  The goal is to get the reader to recognize these qualities in themselves and fan them into confidence to move forward, improve their skills, and excel in their endeavors.

The book lends itself well to being read.  It is written in a straightforward, informal and funny tone in which it presents sage advice and several exercises meant to help the reader get past the common hurdles, both physical and mental, of making their dream come true.  It’s not simply focusing on what you like that matters; it’s important to look at what you like from different perspectives and see practical ways to turn it into a profession.

The reader is implored to turn away from the disheartening, ultimately empty criticisms of how futile and unprofitable fandom can be, and instead is advised to focus on the actually pragmatic benefits fandom can provide.  Organizing a convention would be a fantastic way to network, for example.  The author himself mentions that his math skills were greatly enhanced from having to work with math while playing RPGs in college.

Fan to Pro, however, is not simply a warm-fuzzy meant to make you feel that all the hours you spend chatting on a Skyrim forum is actual work.  In addition to the exercises mentioned, important topics such as learning about the industries you’re interested in, connecting with others, and even the particularly tricky subject of relocating is thoroughly addressed.

Savage and Hardy have comprised this short (127 pages) work from a series of blogs that had explored the world of fandom and fandom-based careers thoroughly. Through gentle, good-natured humor and encouragement, the reader is instructed to take their passions seriously.  History has proven repeatedly that no great writer, inventor, physician, linebacker – geeks all, in their own way – could have ever made it otherwise.

Fan-to-Pro: Unlocking Career Insights With Your Hobbies is available to order from www.fantoprobook.com in print, Kindle, ePub and PDF format.  To see the blog that brought about the book, check out www.fantopro.com.

Check out Steven Savage’s additional work at seventhsanctum.com and stevensavage.com.  Point your browser to the following for his other books.



Networking for the Anti-Social: Welcome

I am not a joiner. I am not exuberantly social. The concept of mingling with a group of strangers, no matter how like-minded, is nearly enough to make my skin crawl. When I find myself in such situations, if I am expected to do one thing I am overcome by a perverse desire to do the opposite. Fortunately, my good manners usually prevent anything disastrous from happening; but the very thought that certain things are expected of me, no matter how inconsequential, makes me ill at ease. Yes, I can be that unpredictable. Yet I know that I am not alone in this: it is one of the great universal truths that small talk makes people uncomfortable. Even when a common goal is at hand–say, furthering one’s career–this type of witless chit-chat can be tedious, painful and boring.

Things were no different when I was a school-girl. I dropped out of Brownies after a year. The delight that I took in donning my little brown pinafore–I still remember the day that I picked it out of a JCPenney catalogue–was not enough to hold my interest. I tired of making useless crafts from Popsicle sticks; I already knew why it is important to be kind to old people and animals; and, most telling, I had little interest in being friends with most of the girls in my troop. Part of this was due to my natural shyness. Although I will never be gregarious–not even with half-a-dozen drinks in my system–time, experience and circumstances have largely eradicated the extreme form of shyness that I suffered from as a child. The rest, however, is a result of what I would call a personality quirk; you might call it rudeness or self-absorption. While I try not to judge people, I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to impressions; I am even worse when it comes to the after-effect of such decisions. Simply put, if I do not find you interesting, then the conversation is over; it is unlikely I will come back for more.

I was this way even at the tender age of 7, and quite possibly sooner. Life is too short to be spent in long pointless conversation with strangers. This is where Alicia and sociability part. Thus, I have not been an active member of anything since 1981. Fortunately, technology has come a long way since then: it is now possible, and perfectly acceptable, to network and market yourself solely through what our forebears would probably consider wickedly artificial means. Thank you, Internet. You were meant for people like me.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I will spend approximately one paragraph expounding on my personality and social choices. I am no hermit. I enjoy going out. I do not balk at meeting new people. I like finding friends, expanding my circle, and experiencing interesting things. I am not typing these words in a dark room in my parents’ basement. I am a modern, sophisticated, witty woman who just so happens to have no penchant for listless small-talk, coupled with the attention span of a ferret and the patience of a 2-year-old.

I know that I have stated this before, but truth bears repeating: the Internet has been a major gift for writers. It has also, most unfortunately, sated the world with more hacks and untalented aspirants than I ever thought possible; that is the topic for another day. For those willing to forgo the old-school pleasure of holding their work in their hands, the Internet has opened up thousands of new venues. I, for one, have opted for a compromise-mix of the two, hawking my work to a combination of hard-copy periodicals and on-line magazines. In the area of marketing and networking, however, I fully embrace twenty-first century means.

Networking is, it seems, one of those necessary evils for any writer desirous of being read. It is tedious, time-consuming, and soul-and-creativity draining–unless you are one of those rare people who actually goes in for that sort of thing. Most of us are not. We just want to write, to express ourselves, to weave plot and words and philosophy together into one unique vision. The naked reality is, of course, that if we do not do it no one will. Suck it up, because writing is a business like–and unlike–any other. On the Internet, raw human contact is, naturally, kept to a minimum–which can be quite nice when you are essentially whoring your most personal goods out to a bunch of nameless, judgmental strangers. You can also do it at any time of day or night. You do not have to get dressed up–or even dressed. You can edit how you present yourself down to the last crossed t and comma. Presentation is all in the words–exactly what writers are most comfortable with.

There are myriad places on the web to market and network yourself: finding the forums, forms and communities that are best for you takes a lot of effort. Networking for the Anti-Social is going to shine a hot little light on some of these sites. It is up to you to try them on for fit.

First Up (Next Time): Thirty-Something Bloggers.