NaNo What Now?

Finding your editing process, revising your NaNoWriMo book and building a writing career through publishing and beyond

Building a Writing Life

start a writing habit, find time to write, discover your process and commit to your writing dreams Non-Fiction

From the mailbag: When does your play need an editor & when should you copyright?

by Aug 20, 2018Evergreen, On Writing: Craft and Commiseration, Playwriting0 comments

editing photo

Hi Hillary, I’m an author and I’ve worked with editors/publishers with my book. I understand that process but as a new playwright, I’m not sure how to go about getting my 3 plays critiqued, edited and proofread. I’m an indie author and self publish but I’m not sure about self-publishing my 3 plays. I’ve researched publishing houses. Does publishing houses typically do editing services prior to publishing plays if accepted by them?

Also, would you submit your scripts to the U.S. Copyright office prior to a production of it? You mentioned that a play will change once it gets produced. I know my work is copyrighted the moment I write it but there are copy cats out there.

The first step with a play is to get it produced either by putting on a production yourself or by submitting it to theatres and having them do it. That usually happens before editing and everything else because the play changes during the production process. Once you’ve successfully mounted a production or several, then you can look into submitting it to publishers who, yes, would edit it for you beforehand. The theatre world is backwards from books in that they don’t want to publish it until it’s already built up some popularity and productions.

If you don’t have the means to produce it yourself and aren’t having any luck with submissions, then you can try self-publishing it to see if the right audience comes to you. While the same thing applies, in that the play will change when it is eventually produced, before self-publishing I like to hire an editor to at least go over it and catch the glaring errors and typos. Fiverr is a good marketplace for finding someone inexpensive. Just know that self-publishing isn’t always the best first choice, more like an option when you’ve exhausted the normal channels.

But if you really just want someone to read it or give feedback on it, Donna Hoke has two great feedback exchanges for playwrights that I wrote about here that might fit the bill.

As for copyright, I personally wait to send it to the Copyright office until I have a publication deal for it. That’s because a) then i know it’s absolutely not going to change (because it’ll be out of my hands) and b) because a lot of the publishers require you register it ahead of time. That said, if you want to register it right at the start, you can, just know you may need to do it again later if you make substantial changes.


Leave a Reply

About the Author

Hillary DePiano is a playwright, fiction and non-fiction writer who loves writing of all kinds except for writing bios like this.

Books and Plays by Hillary DePiano