Advice on the Writer’s Journey – Everyone’s Journey is Different

By Joanne Saunders

Two of the panelists originally scheduled for “The Writer’s Journey: Navigating the New Entertainment Marketplace” panel at WonderCon were unable to attend the event, but audience members were in for a pleasant surprise when arab princeone of the founding members of NWA, joined the moderator Brandon Easton and producer Shannon Denton for the round table. Prince has since gone from rapper to 3D animation and video game creator, working on Silver Surfer and video games with Vivendi Fox, among other projects. He embodied the statement that all panelists agreed on, that there is no standard way to break into the industry.

Break into the industry

Prince shared how he started out selling music from the back of his car. Nowadays, anyone can sell themselves on the Internet. Moderator Easton, a writer with credits on Thundercats, Transformersand Agent Carter, says, “You don’t have to knock on anyone’s door anymore. You can build the house yourself. It just requires a certain level of sacrifice and commitment. Easton had broken into the industry by being admitted to and completing Disney’s writing program.

Hollywood is a collection of companies trying to sell advertising and time, spending millions on media. The question is, how do creators access this money? One way to determine how to access this corporate interest, Easton explained, is to look at how media consumption has changed. A friend of his had recently realized that the audiobook of his work was selling better than the book version. Additionally, research shows that those who embrace new media are in the 12-24 age bracket. There’s a saying, “If you’ve got a fan at age 10, you’ve got a fan for life,” Easton said. So, you might want to think about who you want to sell your hardware to.

These days, creators can leverage their existing brands to create multiple revenue streams across different products. Many online platforms and tools exist for writers and creators, such as Substack, Medium, Cameo, and PearPop. New audio platforms like LockerRoom and Clubhouse are available for podcasters. There are all-in-one tools like Fourthwall for creators that include merchandising, subscriptions, tips.

Traditional ways of finding employment in industry include List of UTA jobs, NBC Writer’s on the Verge, writing conferences and programs. Some companies are also actively hiring on LinkedIn. Festivals such as Sundance and the Austin Film Festival are great for exposure. The Austin Film Festival has a category for science fiction. Living in Los Angeles also gives you a step up because you can easily meet more people.

Producer Shannon Denton, who has credits at Cartoon Network, Warner Bros, DC Comics, and more, recommended that another way to connect with people is to talk about others. He often talks about other people’s projects, which makes networking more enjoyable. Denton also advised creators to let go of the fear of sharing their work because they fear someone will steal their ideas. In his experience, it’s not uncommon for a number of people to think of a similar idea. “People will have a similar idea,” he said, “do it better and faster.”

Get an agent

On the advice of having an agent, they all agreed that having an agent enthusiastic about you is better than having access to a bigger agency. Easton said he had an agent who didn’t know how to sell him and he eventually came across his current agency, who were supportive and believed in him.

Prince took an early interest in animation and coding when he was young. He attended SIGGRAPH conventions, played with computers and worked with animation software. He had to “meet people and be in their vision”. Prince said agents and studios didn’t care that he was a famous rapper. He proved his worth working on Casper and the rise of the Silver Surfer and agents eventually approached him.

Denton began by publishing and optioning his books. “It’s harder to get an agent with no work to show”, so Denton offered an agent a deal he had already signed, and the agent closed it for him, taking on Denton as a client as well.

Keep hustling and expanding your lane

Even with his success and constant flow of projects, Denton thinks of the commotion at the end of each project. He realizes that he is always in competition with the existing professionals in the field and also with the talents to come. For each project, Denton must convince the right people that he is the person for the job. “Much of our work is detective work. When you meet them, remind people of your background so they remember their background and introduce yourself openly,” he said.

Prince said, “Never fall in love with your own work. Never get to the point where you don’t accept criticism. And the thing you love may never make you money. One of his biggest songwriting hits was “Supersonic,” which cost him $400 to make and was his first Grammy nomination. Although he admitted it’s not his favorite song, the song earns him more money than anything he’s ever made. “Throw everything on the wall, and eventually something will stick.”

“I was never a ‘sit in your seat’ maker,” Denton said. “It doesn’t work for everyone. When I can get paid to learn, I feel like I’m beating the system. He is so active that he started his own entertainment company during the pandemic. Although Denton enjoys learning new things, he finds it harder to sell himself. Prince also agreed with this. He is a co-owner of a metaverse medical company. He said, “Some people say stay in your lane. Sometimes this path is very small.

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