Friday, January 24, 2014

Win a Copy of Tornado Siren

I'm doing a little promo work for my two novels right now, and starting today I've got a giveaway going on over on Goodreads.  You can sign up to win one of three autographed copies of the paperback of Tornado Siren

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Tornado Siren by Patrick Gabridge

Tornado Siren

by Patrick Gabridge

Giveaway ends January 31, 2014.
See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

This is the first time I've done one of these, so I'm very curious to see how it works out.  I'll be doing for for Moving in early February.  I'll report back how it goes.

If you're looking for some insight on how to run giveaways for your book, I highly recommend this post from Novel Publicity & Co. I think I'm also going to try using Rafflecopter for some giveaways that aren't Goodreads focused, and will try to spread the word a little more (thanks to my friend and fab YA author, Diana Renn, for showing me Rafflecopter).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Three-part series on What Farming is Teaching/Reminding Me about Playwriting and Theater

goofy market photo smaller
Over the past month or so, I've had a three-part blog series running on the HowlRound web site: What Farming is Teaching/Reminding Me about Playwriting and Theater.  It sums up a lot of what I've learned from the past two years of farming.

This year, I'm taking a year off from farming--our site was too far from home, so I need to find a field a lot closer (which is a big challenge), and I need to devote some more time to writing and family.  But I will definitely do more farming, somehow, somewhere, in my double-life as a writer/farmer.

row of sunflowers smaller

Monday, January 13, 2014

Writing by the Numbers, for 2013

Brett Milanowski and Omar Robinson in my play, Fire on Earth, produced by Fresh Ink in Feb. 2013

I like data. Measuring actions and results allows me to attempt to influence or change them. For a few years, I've been tracking how much time I spend writing, how much money I make from writing, how much I spend on my writing, and how many people I reach with my work.

I was thrilled when Todd London's book, Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play, came out a few years ago, because it attempted to take a quantifiable look at the state of playwriting in America.  He actually laid out an average income range for playwrights ($25K-$39K, though most of that came from non-theatre work), and that's from playwrights surveyed, who are far along enough in their careers to be surveyed by Todd London.

It's hard for young playwrights to know what to expect from our field, because there is (aside from Outrageous Fortune) so little actual data out there.  I really don't know how much most of my fellow playwrights make from their work or how large of an audience they're reaching.  It's useful, in a way, for writers to know this, to establish benchmarks or aspirations.  Not that I want playwrights obsessing about whether so-and-so is making a lot more money than they are, but knowledge is power.  Maybe the goals you've set for yourself are wildly unrealistic.  Or maybe they're too low.  It might help to know more about the actual reality of the world in which you're operating. 

I'll share my numbers here, in as many categories as I track.  I hope some will find it useful. There is always some reticence about sharing income numbers, either for fear of appearing to be bragging, or for fear of revealing oneself to be woefully inadequate.  My net income is so low, that bragging doesn't seem viable.  And as to my inadequacy, I doubt anyone cares.

I do hope a few other writers might be inspired to share their numbers, to help shed a little more of the light on the state of the American (or World) playwright. At the very least, it might help beginning playwrights have some sense of what they're getting into.

My numbers:

Gross Income$7,767.44

published plays:  $1004.85
production royalties:  $475
commissions:  $5,500  (one written and produced fully in 2013, one just started, another is in development)
teaching: $500
ebooks of my novels:  $277.59
misc: $10

web hosting $99.87
proofing of novel for ebook and paperback:  $250
Office expense:  $1,338  (includes postage and new laptop)
books:  $381.30  (mostly for research)
conference fees:  $655.53   (Mostly Grub Street's Muse & Marketplace and SCWBI)
entrance fees/donations:  $176.99
memberships (DG, Grub, Rhombus, SCWBI):  $555
expenses for readings (snacks, etc.): $40.92
software:  $94.90
theatre events (tickets): $766.41
publicity (photo shoot): $150
office supplies:  $418.89
transportation:  $20
phone:  $789.61 (smartphone + data + line costs)

Net Income:  $2,029.08

For 2012:  Gross Income:  $3,844  Expenses:  $2,808  net:  $1063
For 2011:  Gross Income:   $2,638   Expenses:  $4,665  net:  $-2027

In my case, I'm clearly very, very fortunate to have a spouse with who has a good job with salary and benefits that lets me spend a lot of time writing and farming. We've made a lot of choices to enable us to survive on pretty much one income.

Number of Performances:  99  (my goal was 100)  (This includes published plays.)
Estimated audience:  6,000   (tough to figure for published plays, but I tend to estimate low, say 40 people/performance)  (This was my goal #.)
Books (mostly ebooks) sold:  133   (many fewer than I'd hoped)

queries for plays:  14
play scripts submitted:  114
queries for books:  42
book manuscripts submitted:  9

Hours spent on writing stuff:  996 hours
actual writing and research:  394 hours (my goal was 400)
rehearsals and writing meetings:  308 hours  (includes a tiny bit of teaching)
marketing and admin:  294

This balance seems about right.  I spend almost a third of my time looking for gigs and for audiences for my work.  I had a bunch of productions this year, so that boosted my rehearsal time a lot.

This year, I spent about 920 hours farming.  Neither writing nor farming includes commuting time.  Both under-report hours spent on e-mails and admin stuff.

Here's how my time worked in:
2012:  896 hours.  (386 writing/278 rehearsing and meeting/231 marketing)    I spent about 734 hours on farming in 2012.

2011: 818 hours.  (I didn't break out rehearsals from desk writing time in 2011).

Somehow, despite adding farming to the mix in 2012, and then doubling the land I was farming in 2013, I still managed to keep increasing my writing time (I might be a little nuts).  I'm not farming in 2014, so I'm curious to see whether my writing time will jump up ( I want it to), or if it'll just be absorbed into daily life activities.  Not all of the farming time will become writing time, I'm certain of that (working from home makes that almost impossible.)

Please let me know if you keep track of numbers like this and if you post about it anywhere, let me know, and I'll post a link below:

Monday, January 6, 2014

What I'm Learningn About Theatre and Playwriting from Farming (part 2)

The folks at HowlRound have just published part 2 of a 3-part blog series I've written on what my last two years farming (at Pen and Pepper) farm have been teaching me about my life in theater.

You can read the opening below, and then click through to read the rest on HowlRound.

Climate and soil matters. If you think global warming is a hoax, talk to a vegetable farmer pulling his hair out after yet another fucking record heat wave. Or when the entire basil crop dies off from basil downy mildew, a fungal problem that’s migrated up to New England from Florida over the past few years, thanks to conditions provided by global warming. All farmers pay attention to the weather, the smart farmers try to understand the climate, too.

In theater, it’s easy to mistake weather for climate. If I have a string of productions, I suddenly think the world has turned around and good things are happening all over. Or the converse—I don’t have a production for a few years, and I’m certain no one goes to plays anymore and no one wants to produce new work anymore and theater has become an artistic wasteland. Knowing the difference between weather and climate matters.
read the rest on HowlRound.