Friday, January 23, 2009

Wish they were all like Playscripts

Okay, sure, sending me a check is a good way to get me on your good side. I have a couple plays published by Playscripts (Christmas Breaks and Pumpkin Patch), and I just got a royalty check for a couple hundred bucks, thanks to a production around Christmas time.

But there's more to it than just that--what's especially cool is that Playscripts pays not just once a year (like some other play publishers), but they pay royalties every month that you earn more than $100. And for June and December, the minimum threshold is only $20. So instead of keeping my money in their bank account for most of the year, they actually send it to me. What a concept.

It's all automated, and I can go online to their Playwrights Information Center anytime and check the status of my sales and productions--the web site will tell me how much I can expect in my next check, which theatres/schools still haven't paid yet, the total number of online views a script has had, total sales (both in units sold and dollars earned for each script).

It's really an ideal setup for the writers whose work they publish (and for a numbers guy like me, pure heaven). I know that some other play publishers have similar setups--I have experience with Brooklyn's old version, which gave totals, but they only paid once a year. I don't know the details of the others, though it seems like Heuer has something close.

What I really wish is that book publishers would/could adopt this same model. This is extremely unlikely for large publishers, because they sell through such a variety of outlets, though there must be some central system, somewhere in each publishing company that keeps track of all this, doesn't there? The other big stumbling block would be the practice of allowing bookstores to return unsold books--which is just plain dumb. If book publishers did away with returns, then, in theory, they could set up an automated royalty system like Playscripts that would pay authors every month, with very little hassle for the publisher (and make the lives of authors much more sane and earn lots of goodwill). Though of course they would lose the interest on all those piles of money they sit on all year. I think it'd be an interesting competitive advantage for a publisher, with regard to landing authors, if they could pull it off.

I won't hold my breath for big book publishers taking up the Playscripts model, but I wish that small publishers (and all other play publishers) would find a way.

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