Posted by on May 10, 2016 in Evergreen, Playwriting | 0 comments

Self-publishing a play can be a good idea and I covered a bunch of questions on that over in this big post. But I’ve since gotten some follow up questions to that big post and wanted to make a little series of the answers. One of the things I cover in that big post was the value of having your play listed on sites like Amazon and how that can increase its discoverability even without all the other factors. (Side note: I recently scored a run of one of my self-published plays in Chicago, and I will be sharing more detail about that with as we get closer to it, simply because the theatre found the play on Amazon. I slapped it up for sale, they found it, loved it, contracts and checks were exchanged. It really was that easy!)

But if you’ve already got plays listed with traditional publishers, can you still benefit from the Amazon effect? That’s what at the heart of this question:

Hillary, curious how you keep your listings active on Amazon if not for sale. I’d love to utilize this tactic myself. I’ve never sold on Amazon and my plays are all with publishers, so I’d love some way to connect the two as you’ve done. I know there are used copies of my scripts for sale on Amazon, so I’m wondering if there’s a way to tap into those listings.

footprint photo

Retail footprint. Get it?

Once a physical item (not so for eBooks, unfortunately) sells at least a single copy, Amazon leaves the page for it up even if it goes off sale so people can sell their own copies through Amazon Marketplace unless the rights holder specifically requests they take it down. You can get a page for any item (such as a play) on Amazon through FBA or Advantage (crash course on what those terms mean) but if you publish it in any way that sources to Amazon as part of its distribution, they’ll generate a page for it automatically.

The bad news is that most traditional play publishers will neither list the book on sites like Amazon or let you list it yourself (so while you could, in theory, list copies for sale on those pages, your publisher probably prohibits it). This is why, for a play I’m looking to eventually traditionally self-publish, I try to get as big of a retail footprint as possible it before I shop it to publishers. This way, the play will benefit being on Amazon et al long after a publisher picks it up.

If you’ve already published it but still want to benefit from the eyes on Amazon, what I have not done yet* but would do in that instance is to publish some kind of tangential content to the play at free to low-cost, something like a school friendly performance guide to it with lesson plays, staging suggestions, etc or an adaptation of the work in another format, such as prose, that will give people something to find that would lead them to your play at the play publisher.

*=The last time I started doing this, the little thing I was going to publish just for marketing stretched out of control into a full-fledged novel series of its own so I never got to implement it as planned.

Photo by orinoko42