On Facebook, among playwrights there can be a fair amount of discussion about play submissions and rejections. I've seen a couple people ask about acceptance rates, which I think is an excellent question. I've only recently updated my database to allow me to have better stats on individual scripts. I've been tracking annual submission stats for many years, but I'm glad that I finally took the time for the new reports.
Here's what I have for a bunch of my full-length plays. Most of these are fairly recent, though Reading the Mind of God is a much older play. I still send these out, though with varying frequency.
A few caveats before I talk a bit more about the results. In this database, not all acceptances are productions. In this case, I'm counting publication, a workshop, a reading, or even a finalist slot in a major competition.
So a few things jump out:
- The acceptance rate is within a pretty narrow range, 6-8% for 9 out of 11 plays.
- The two outliers are plays that are naturally going to be harder to place, but I've also not sent out either script nearly as much as most of the others. Will their acceptance rights move towards the average, if I get them more submissions? (Lost in Lexicon is a children's musical, without many options, it seems.)
- For me, it would appear that I tend to reach some sort of upper limit of just over 100. Did I run out of opps for these plays? Did I get distracted by the other plays?
- The totals aren't as high as I thought they might be. I'm left feeling that I need to work a little harder for each of these full-length plays.
- I have a "hold" option, for when a company has said they are considering a play, at length. I just went through the database and cleared out any holds that are clearly not going to pay off. That was a little walk through a map of past heartbreaks.
Now that I have this report, I think I'll be checking it a fair bit, because I know I need to get my full-length plays out there more. I'd love to see each of these get to 100 and beyond--because they don't get picked and produced if they're not going out . I'm not doing my job if I'm not looking for opps, or people aren't requesting to read my work.
At the same time, I'm involved with a whole bunch of commissioned projects right now, and those, and a few past ones, don't even show up on this list because they were pretty specific for those institutions. Working on those projects takes up a lot of my submission time right now, and that's not a bad thing. My hope is that all the projects together keep gaining some heat, and will lead to more serious reads of these other plays.
But we'll see.
Just for kicks, I started setting up the stats for my short plays and one-acts. It'll take a while to do them all, because there are a lot them. But for now, here are these:
You can see that, as you'd expect, the acceptance rate for short plays is MUCH higher than for full-length plays. And the top performers can be pretty strong indeed. Though for this small sample, there's also a wider variance.
As with the full-lengths, this report should help me identify scripts that have fallen off my radar and need to go out more. Or else scripts that aren't as strong as I'd hoped.
(Two of the stronger performers, Quack and Insomnia, are now published, but these are pre-publication stats. My experience has shown that pre-publication performance is not a good predictor of how well the play will do after it's published.)