Saturday, January 2, 2016

Writing by the Numbers, 2015

Marc Pierre and Brenna Fitzgerald in the Brown Box production of Lab Rats

Time for my annual round up of my writing stats. As a freelance writer, it's easy to lose track of how I'm doing in any given year. This gives me a chance to catch my breath, reflect, and set some goals for the next year.  Plus, as a writer, I find it useful when other people share posts like these--it's hard to know (especially when you're starting out), what one might achieve, even if you're not a  superstar.  Concrete numbers are often very hard to come by for playwrights about productions and income. 

2015 was a busy year, with lots of productions and readings. My family also moved to a new home/new town, and a house that ended up taking a HUGE amount of time for renovation.  So some of my numbers are a lot worse than last year (especially the time I spent actually writing).  But I had a lot of momentum, production-wise coming into the year. So even if I didn't write a lot, I spent a lot of time in rehearsal, and a lot of time editing.  And I had a new novel published!

Here are the stats:    

Number of Productions/Readings:  49  (In 2014, I had 44) 
(These were of 26 different scripts.)
Number of Performances:  151(This includes published plays.  In 2014 my work had 123 performances.)

  • 2 productions and 4 readings were of full-length plays.    Both full-length productions--Constant State of Panic by Clockwise and Lab Rats by Brown Box, were extremely satisfying for me, personally and artistically.
  • My work was read or produced in 6 countries:  US, Canada, Finland, Scotland, the Philippines, England, and these 17 states: MA, VA, NY, IL, CO, RI, WA, MD, IN, FL, AZ, WI, CA, PA LA, GA, NE (These don't include plays done by students in competition--those were used widely, across North America). My play Quack was especially successful and was produced in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (a first for me) by Bite-Size Plays.
Estimated Audience:  11,578 total. (down a bit from 2014)

This includes 9,227 for performed work.
For published plays I estimate low, 40 people/performance. The rest of the total audience comes from books sales, plays published in anthologies, etc. These are based on conservative estimates--the actual number is probably higher.

Books sold:  350+   (I don't have the final numbers for Steering to Freedom for 2015 yet, so this should be go up a little. The book came out this summer, and I'm still trying get it to its core readership.)

Total:   197   (down from 235 last year, but I submitted a lot fewer book queries)
queries for plays:  26
play scripts submitted:  169   (new record. Last year I sent 164)
queries for books: 1
book manuscripts submitted:  1

Hours spent on writing :  1,035 hours
actual writing and research:  262 hours (my initial goal was 600, then adjusted to 300)
reading for work (not fun):  52 hours   (this counted under writing time in past years)
rehearsals and writing meetings:  295 hours  (includes teaching)
marketing and admin:  303 hours
New England New Play Alliance:  123 hours

This year I didn't do any farming. Instead, we moved. And I spent a lot of hours working on the sale of our old house, buying a new one, and then fixing up the new place.  Altogether, I spent about 561 hours on house stuff.
My tracking on this was incomplete, but I estimated that I spent about 421 hours on renovations and 140 hours on moving tasks. I'll bet the actual number was closer to 700-800 hours.

Here's how my time worked in:
2014:  1,426 hours (452 writing/109 reading/342 rehearsing/396 marketing/127 New Play Alliance) + 130 hours farming.
 2013:  996 hours (394 writing/308 rehearsing/294 marketing)  + 902 hours farming
2012:  896 hours.  (386 writing/278 rehearsing and meeting/231 marketing)   + 734 hours farming

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

The move and renovations absolutely killed my actual writing time and output this year. I was able to stay involved with rehearsals, admin, and marketing, but finding the mental space and quiet to write or read was really tough from March through December. 2016 should be somewhat better, though I still have a LOT of renovations left to go.  I have to do some serious thinking about what is a realistic goal for my writing time and output--there's only so much time and energy to go around.

1 new full-length play
2 new ten-minute plays

wrote some new one-minute plays
LOTS of revisions--to four full-length plays, a bunch of short plays, and to two novels.

Plays watched:  52   (saw 57 in 2014)
Movies/TV series watched:  51   (64 in 2014)
Plays read: 18     (50 in 2014)
Books read:  12    (22 in 2014)

Despite the move, I saw more plays than I would have expected, but had a LOT less time and energy and quiet time for reading. I need to change that in 2016

Gross Income$8,662   

published plays:  $745
production royalties:  $1,640   
commissions:  $2,000 
teaching: $2,500  (This is skewed by a big project that also had a lot of expenses.)
my novels:  $727 
Prizes: $1,000  (Massachusetts Cultural Council Award!)
misc. (essays, panels, editing, other): $50 

Expensesabout $4,979   ($5,480 in 2014)
I spent on a lot on marketing for Steering to Freedom and on copies of the book (to both give away and sell).

Net Income:  $3,682   ($2,494 in 2014)

Overall, financially, 2015 was pretty comparable to 2014. I've got some potential to get better paying gigs in 2016. 

past years:
2014:  Gross income:  $7,974  Expenses $5,580  net:  $2,494

2013:  Gross income:   $7,767  Expenses:  5,758  net:  $2,029
2012:  Gross Income:  $3,844  Expenses:  $2,808  net:  $1063
2011:  Gross Income:   $2,638   Expenses:  $4,665  net:  $-2027

Those are my writing numbers. Considering all the turmoil in our lives from the move and house, it ended up being a pretty good year. I'm going to try to make 2016 even better. I've already got nine productions scheduled, which feels awfully nice (including 2 full-length productions in Boston in May and June!).

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

Donna Hoke's year in review 
Adam Szymkowicz's year in review 
Nina Mansfield's 2015 Reflections