7 Essential Non-Acting Books for Actors

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Although training is crucial to an actor’s success, there are many other skills that can help lead to a thriving career. Networking, goal-setting, personal style, social media prowess, branding, and money management are all important skills to possess that, unfortunately, many actors are never taught. Here are seven books for actors (that are not about the craft of acting) that teach these essentials skills and will enrich your #actorslife.

Networking 101
You’ve heard over and over again “It’s who you know in this business!” Well, it’s true! What’s not true is that networking has to be scary, or worse, sleazy. Networking is really about building relationships with the industry professionals who might be able to help you. To work on your networking skills, read Keith Ferrazzi’s “Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time.”

Learning to Set Attainable Goals
As an actor you’re your own CEO, so you must be able to set goals for your career. A goal can be as simple as learning a new monologue, saving up for new headshots, or a longer-term goal of becoming a series regular. Leslie Becker’s “The Organized Actor’s Build Your Business Book” is a fantastic resource that will teach you how to set career, financial and personal goals.

Maintaining a Positive Mindset
An acting career is usually filled with more no’s than yes’s and sometimes it can be very difficult to stay positive. Remember our thoughts shape everything in our lives that we feel and experience. This can become a problem if our thoughts become negative or filled with fear or doubt. “As a Man Thinketh” is a timeless short read that will help you realize that your thoughts (positive and negative) make you who you are. Looking for a more recent read? Shonda Rhimes’ “Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun and Be Your Own Person” is a delightful book that chronicles how she learned to say yes to everything that scared her and was holding her back.

Personal Style
Actors forget that how we dress can definitely make or break an audition or first meeting. What do your clothes say about you? Celebrity stylist George Brescia’s “Change Your Clothes, Change Your Life” will teach you how to select clothes that help tell your story and “speak for you” before you even say your first line.

READ: “George Brescia’s 5 Wardrobe Tips for a Flawless Audition”

Your Money Matters
Even successful actors don’t work all the time. You must be able to budget your money to make it through any lapse in employment. “The Broke and Beautiful Life,” written by actor Stefanie O’Connell, is a delightful book that will help you redefine your relationship with your finances and achieve financial freedom while pursuing the career you love.

Social Media Know-How
Five years ago social media would never be on this list, but social media has become one of the best (totally free) PR tools available to actors. Unfortunately, most actors simply don’t know how to use it or they don’t know how to use it to their advantage for their careers. The good news is that social media, just like any of these other skills, can be learned. To help you start mastering your social media for your acting career download my free e-book, “The Ultimate Social Media Checklist for Actors.”

So, take a break from Stanislavsky, Meisner, Adler, and Moss, and start improving yourself, your “business,” and building real relationships with the people you want to know! Happy reading!

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Heidi Dean
Heidi Dean is the industry’s top social media expert for actors. She was a working professional actor for over 20 years and a proud member of SAG-AFTRA and AEA. Now she combines her years of industry experience with cutting-edge social media strategy to help actors open more doors for their careers.
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