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.

www.conventioncareerconnection.com

www.focusedfandom.com

[Resources] I’m the Boss of Me and Other Tales of Woe: A Primer

The qualities that make me a great employee also ensure that I am a fine boss; I am well-organized, dedicated, hard-working, compassionate, honest and, when necessary, quite plain-spoken. I have no problem filling either role, with gusto and something approaching finesse. The clarity of these cut-and-dried positions is comforting. I’m the boss at ‘A Small Press Life’, an employee at my very part-time day job. Knowing my place, wherever it falls on the workaday spectrum, goes a long way in making bad days tolerable. Under these easy circumstances, motivation is effortless. Then there’s the flip-side to my professional life, where everything is a bit murky and unsafe. Where I am equal parts employee AND boss, one of the worst combinations of anything in the world.  Freelancing. Oh, the humanity.

Sometimes, it seems as if all of the stellar attributes listed above melt away as soon as I am in charge of myself in a freelance capacity. Once I have a commission, or have placed a piece, the situation reverts to normal. It’s the leg-work and networking that is tricky and unpalatable. I devote hours to those onerous tasks on behalf of ‘A Small Press Life’ but for my freelance work? Not a chance. I’d rather shoot a nail gun at my right knee. I’ll admit that this entire issue is complicated by a hardened combination of ego and ethical philosophy.

I’m not a journalist for a good reason: although I could, I won’t write about just any assigned topic. I need to be passionate about a subject, or at least find it intriguing or disturbing. You can call it a weakness, and I’m okay with that. When it comes to creativity, I’m also a first-rate, straight-to-the-head-of-the-class control freak. I accept criticism well and appreciate feedback, truly. Artistic growth is otherwise impossible. I just like to do what I like to do, which includes writing on strange niche topics and only working for small press publications- both involving rather narrow (and self-imposed) parameters that don’t make a freelance career a cakewalk. (This is, incidentally, how ‘A Small Press Life‘ was born.)

I spend a lot of time ferreting out forums that meet my criteria, to find publications that are a correct fit. This detailed vetting is frustrating, which is probably why my freelance career goes through wildly divergent phases. Stabilizing it is one of my goals for 2012. I’ll need access to as many resources as I can find, resources that will aid me in my efforts to stay organized and on top of the always-changing market (because even a wordsmith specializing in silent movies, dead writers, the literary life, old books and flappers has a market).

I know that you face your own set of professional challenges. We likely have in common  a cross-section of concerns, annoyances and problems. There’s always a universality to this kind of career; it matters not that the details differ. I’m going to start sharing my own resources with you as they come my way. Feel free to reciprocate.

C. Hope Clark-Funds for Writers/FWW Small Markets Newsletters:

C. Hope Clark presides over a mini-empire of (mostly free) ‘Writer’s Digest’ approved e-newsletters. I subscribe to the weekly ‘Funds for Writers’ and ‘FWW Small Markets’. Although she acts as a sort of pep rally leader with words of encouragement, inspirational quotes and feel-good stories, I usually skip right to the meat: the up-to-the-minute resources. You’ll find a list of grants, awards, contests, jobs and markets, with all of the time-saving details in one tidy place. The rest is up to you.

Every time these weekly reminders arrive, I become a little more disciplined, focused and determined. That’s a start.