First of all, forgive me for recommending - and recommending highly - a book which is, sadly, out of print.
That being said, if you can't afford the few found on Amazon.com there is always the library, and if THE CABARET ARTIST'S HANDBOOK is not in your local library's collection, there is a wonderful network system called INTERLIBRARY LOAN which can track a copy down and have it delivered to the library branch most convenient to you.(The copy that I've got in my hands came from The University of the South.)
THE CABARET ARTIST'S HANDBOOK is fundamentally the best book I have ever read for helping the performer get a practical grasp of this business we call "show." And while the focus of the book is the world of cabaret, the advice and information it contains is of inestimable value to performers working in all areas of the industry.
THE CABARET ARTIST'S HANDBOOK is based on the writings of Bob Harrington, who covered the world of cabaret for BACK STAGE MAGAZINE from 1984 until his death in October 1992, and was compiled and edited by Sherry Eaker, who was Bob's Editor for those years. In her preface, Eaker writes of the book, "It defines the elements that go into creating a successful cabaret act and describes in detail the business skills it takes to promote and market yourself." To put this in my own words, THE CABARET ARTIST'S HANDBOOK is not some artsy fartsy blah blah blah kind of book that is more about the writer than the reader. While Harrington speaks directly from personal experience, it is an experience solidly grounded in years of analyzing and writing about WHAT WORKS.
The sections of the book are:
The World of Cabaret - the history of cabaret in NYC
Rubbing Elbows - the social dynamics of cabaret
Learning the Ropes - audience development, press agents, critics, publicity
Hitting the Notes - finding and interpreting your songs, etiquette for singers and songwriters
Structuring Your Act - creating the sound, look and flow of your act
Practical Matters - agents, contracts and other matters
Your CD - recording and marketing your cd
I've noted many passages of the book that I would love to quote, but better you should read it for your self - but just to give a soupcon of the kind of subtle distinctions that make Harrington's advice so valuable, I'll take a quote from his chapter on photos - for all you folks who are endlessly updating your headshots:
"A headshot is supposed to represent what you really look like to agents and casting directors. Publicity shots are supposed to lure people to your show. The point of a publicity shot is to get you publicity, not work. There's a world of difference."