Once you self-publish a play, how do you get it produced? That’s what we’re talking about with this question from the Mailbag. (In this series, I’m answering some of the questions I got in response to my big post about self-publishing a stage play.)
Great to read your blog on self-publishing plays. We’ve actually got a lot in common when it comes to self-publishing our plays. I’ve sort of put them out there and have just been waiting for the market to find me. I’m not sure how long it took for you to start seeing productions from the plays you self-published, but mine have been out there for almost year and I haven’t gotten any hits yet. I’m listed on a handful of playwriting sites (NPX and Dollee, for instance) and have my own pages up dedicated to each play. But, it appears to be a long game I’m playing (I actually sat on the plays for nearly a decade because I had no idea what to do with them after their first – local – production.) I’d love to know more about how you got theaters to notice (and, more importantly, PRODUCE) your work! Thanks! (Maybe a good blog post will come out of correspondence!)
I self-published my first play in response to demand so there were productions going on long before I put it up for sale in bookstores. As for my most recent titles, it depends. Some it took a few months before the first production but then had regular demand (such as a short play like Daddy Issues) while others (such as The Green Bird) were getting production requests before it was even available yet because it was anticipated. Then there is one 1-act that hasn’t had an official production yet, just a bunch of readings. There really is no magic formula.
While I too am a member of NPX and I love the idea of it, I’ve yet to get a single hit from the year I’ve been on there. The majority of my productions (not counting the ones that come in from the publisher through my traditionally published plays) come from my mailing list, which is just a simple email list of some directors and schools that have done my plays in the past and are thus usually interested in whatever I’ve got coming next. (If you don’t have a mailing list like that, you need to start creating one immediately as it’s your single most valuable promotional tool!)
The rest come in from browsers. This means people who find my plays on my website, stumble across the play on Amazon and other bookstores (I’m a vendor with the Drama Book Shop who stocks my plays in their store and their support is a huge boon). Though the vast majority of my productions come from my mailing list, it’s about 50/50 between people finding the plays through retailers and people finding them on my site from Google or similar.
How do you leverage those browsers? Network with bookstores, work your keywords everywhere and make sure your website is both SEO (search engine optimization) friendly AND optimized for mobile because that’s where the majority of your traffic is going to come from these days. In general, the easier it is for someone to stumble across your play, then the easier it is for them to purchase it (which means both the retail experience as well as finding the links and dealing with your website) and therefor produce it.
Photo by juhansonin