Monday, October 1, 2007

Playwriting by the Numbers: Good News/Bad News

For a guy like me (a numerical obsessive), having a play published by Playscripts is a good thing. I get an e-mail every time Christmas Breaks sells a copy (it's now in an anthology, Great Short Plays, Volume 1). This happens at least a couple times a week (but don't get too excited, I make ten cents with every sale). I also get an e-mail if performances are licensed. This is better news--I get 60% of the royalties paid. Playscripts interface allows playwrights to check on the status of all scripts orders at any time, as well as how much the next royalty check will be.

The good news is that I got an e-mail last week saying that a company in Florida licensed 7 performances, which should bring me a little more than $100. Yet another good thing about Playscripts is that they pay you when you reach a certain threshold in a given month (usually $100, in two months you only need to earn $20), rather than only paying you once or twice a year.

This is good news, since I'm starting up my new push for freelance work, hoping to earn a minimum of $300 a month. So this month, I'll be part of the way there from playwriting, which is really cool.

The bad news is that those 7 performances licensed this past month are not common. This is an unusually good month. I'd need to license 21 performances a month (and really closer to 30, to cover taxes) in order to reach my minimal needs.

Productions of my newly published Tightly Bound collection would bring in about $50 per performance, so if I had one production every month (say 9 performances per run), I'd be in great shape. But the tough thing is that productions of unknown full-length plays, published or not, are very hard to come by. My sense is that, although it's gotten easier to get productions of short plays over the past few years, it's gotten harder to get productions of full-length plays. (I'd love to know if there's data out there about this.) I wish I could count on my plays to bring in the money I need, but I know better.

I spent the morning working on Plan C for raising money, signing up for a profile on where I hope to be able to make some bids for freelance work. I discovered that the free basic level account is basically worthless, so I've invested $75 for one quarter of more complete access. Now I just need to earn that money back. The first few assignments will be the toughest to win, since my freelance experience is on the thin side. I'll catch up. I'm going to need to make as many bids as possible. There are some interesting projects out there. We'll see what happens.

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