Okay, so I had a pretty good year of actually writing stuff. It's worth looking at the business side of the writing life, too.
This past year was about what I expected, in terms of how much I submitted. I was busy with extensive writing projects, so I didn't set any submission records for myself.
This year I sent 17 queries for scripts and 75 actual scripts out, so I guess you could call it 92 submissions.
In terms of productions, it was a slow year, but not too bad. I had 6 productions of short plays in various theatres in New York, Boston, and North Carolina, and 2 readings. Plus I got quite a few productions of short plays via my publishers and about 1,000 students bought my published scripts this year, for use in competitions and elsewhere.
Two of my short plays were accepted for inclusion in Smith & Kraus anthologies, and Playscripts published my short play, Pumpkin Patch. I won one competition, the UMBC competition, which was very exciting. I came up completely blank in my efforts to find productions for my full-length plays this year--they're awfully tough to place right now. I did help produce a new play festival, Six Views, with my Rhombus playwrights group, which was quite successful in many ways and very gratifying.
I sold a handful of books, but Tornado Siren has been out for a while (two years), and like any novel, if it doesn't make a big splash out of the gate, its lifetime on the bookshelves is pretty short.
So in terms of audience, all this added up to a decent year (meaning I met my goals). As far as I can tell, counting theatre and books, I think my worked reached at least 5,282 people this year. (My goal was 4,800.) This was generated by 75 performances (my goal was 52).
So what about the money side of the writing life? What does all this add up to? We tend not to talk about the actual finances of writing, much to the detriment of young writers, I think. They don't really know what writers earn for their work when they get into this.
My goal at the start of 2008 was to make at least $6,000 from my writing work (including freelance stuff). Sounds like a pathetically small number, I know, but my time is limited (I'm the stay-at-home dad for two kids, too, and I do a bunch of other stuff).
This year I made just over $10,000, which is the first time I've beat my goal. However, only about $1,500 of this came from productions and publications of plays and books. The rest was generated by my freelance work doing web work and business writing and editing. Most of the creative writing money comes from my many published short plays (about 34)--these brought in about $1,100. The nice thing about this money is that it's pretty consistent, year-to-year, so I can count on it to help cover my basic writing expenses (paper, envelopes, web costs).
2009 should be better, in terms of playwriting income, because I know I have a $1,000 prize on its way, plus some extra short play publication money (from a production licensed in December 2008).
It really is helpful for our family if I can keep bringing in $6,000 - $10,000 a year (and I have a daughter approaching college age at an alarming rate). Luckily my freelance work is helping make that happen right now, though I'd love for my income from plays and books to cover that full amount. Who knows, maybe the new play or new novel will do the trick for a while (though even if they get published and/or produced, it's likely they wouldn't show income until 2010). The best I can do is keep writing and keep submitting (and try to be smart about it).