Back in this mailbag post, we talked about how you figure out what to charge for licensing a production and how I like to offer a bulk discount on printed scripts for schools and groups doing a show. But what we didn’t address in that post was how you actually get paid for a production, though that’s the next logical question.
Here’s how I handle getting paid…
Once we agree on prices, I invoice the group for the scripts, shipping costs, performance royalties, video license and whatever else is going on. I send the invoice along with the performance agreement, usually via email. If I’m shipping the scripts out myself (instead of having the POD printer dropship them for me which I do frequently) I’ll throw the agreement and invoice into the box with the scripts as well.
Sometimes they like to give you a purchase order number first, sometimes you just send the invoice and they send the PO later. I usually give everyone 60 days from when the invoice goes out to pay me unless their production is really far away or really close. Many places will pay right away (yay!), some will wait until after the production is over to pay (boo!). Because I deal with a lot of schools where the money people are not necessarily the people putting on the play, I do ship the scripts out right away and let them pay me for them later because this way they can start rehearsals right away. It’s a risk, because you’re fronting the money for the scripts and shipping costs yourself and hoping they won’t stiff you, but, from a theatre standpoint, it’s the right thing to do. And *knocks on wood*, everyone has always ultimately paid, even if it was late or involved a little gentle nagging.
I already own a registered company so I invoice those productions under that business name. For years, I used QuickBooks for all my invoicing but I very recently switched to GoDaddy Bookkeeping. That said, I have fancy invoicing software because I’m already running a company, you can also just grab a template for Google Docs or Microsoft Office and do up a professional looking invoice that way. The only real difference between using a template and full accounting software is that, while my accounting software automatically reminds my customers to pay and alerts me when an invoice is past due so that I can follow up, you’ll need to remember to keep track of all of that yourself. Get organized and set a zillion reminders, is my best advice for dealing with that!
I accept payments via check or credit card via PayPal because, again, I have a business account so I’m already set up for that.
A little light bulb should be going off in your head right now so let me answer, yes, self-publishing a play is a lot like running a business and, yes, you’d be served to get yourself registered in some capacity. This is a big topic that I’ve done a quick overview of in this post. It’s written about eBay but I am confident that you can adapt it in your head. 🙂
Photo by miguelb