Yesterday I had a very encouraging and helpful phone conversation with an old friend from college, Sarah. She's been doing the struggling-actor-while-raising-two-girls thing for 6 years now. I actually called her to ask which agent she's with, which some people would find rather rude, but Sarah didn't mind at all and called back with some great advice for me. Thanks Sarah!
The gist of the conversation and her advice was that, yes, the industry is slow right now, and now's not a good time to try to get an agent. Rather, it's a good time to spend some time working on what it is I'm selling (ie myself!), and finding the most effective way to do that, then start doing it. This time of the year is the time to get organised with photos, submissions to casting books etc.
Another big thing to think about is What is my type? A good way to sell yourself to casting people is to decide on a "type" (eg "nice girl", "strong ambitious woman", "glamour girl"...) and key all your "marketing" towards that. Have a headshot that reflects it, so that when you turn up to a casting you look like your photo and it reflects the way you come across in person. Apparently casting people don't actually care how "diverse" your acting skills are, they just want to know what kind of part you would look and act best for. Only once you've made some headway with that should you try to diversify a bit more.
Basically, what I need to do is:
*decide/find what my type is.
*get proper headshots done and printed.
*write up an attractive CV with photo, and business cards with photo.
*submit my details to the casting directories.
*network! Find out what's going on and who's doing it.
*keep auditioning as much as possible.
Then, in a few months when it's getting back into the normally busy time of the year and all the agencies are over tax time etc, try again with the agents, this time with more confidence and knowledge of what I'm good at and where I'm aiming.
That's the plan! Quite a bif of it requires money, so I think the plan also needs to include get a casual job and save some money!