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Promotion, Promotion, Promotion By Kris Bauske

09 Oct 2013 3:44 PM | Anonymous
Self PromotionI’ve heard it said many times, to be a great writer, you must read.  Would you believe it’s also now necessary to promote?  Promotion has become as much a part of the writer’s life as coffee and Microsoft Word, and yet many of my closest friends struggle with this skill.

Long ago, when I first realized the extraordinary difficulty and the immense scope of the opportunities available for playwrights, I made a commitment to make one contact, submission, or inquiry each day.  (For me, this has included weekend days as well as weekdays.  It allows me to feel comfortable with the occasional vacation where I don’t touch technology for days at a time.)  I personally know many writers who feel promotion is the job of an agent, and since they don’t currently have an agent, they don’t worry about promotion ~ as if word of your fabulous work will circulate somehow on its own.  Trust me, no matter how good the work is, it won’t.  Writers contact me regularly asking how to find an agent when the bigger question should be, “How do I get my work noticed?”

First, in the spirit of full disclosure, I do have an agent.  He is a fabulous friend and a critic I look to again and again for input, suggestions, and ideas.  One of the reasons I have an agent is my commitment to promoting my work.  As a playwright with representation, let me assure you, signing with an agent is no guarantee of success.  Nor does it relieve you from your personal responsibility to promote your work.  My agent primarily handles contract negotiations, such as in publishing and adaptation situations, and he submits the occasional script on my behalf. 

For the most part, I still handle most of my own submissions, as I am more in tune to which script fits best with which competition, and it saves me money.  Yes!  I pay my agent for his time!  If a script hasn’t started making me money, it isn’t making him money.  His time is valuable (beyond measure), and I pay him when he sends new scripts to new venues.  This includes the few theatres that will only accept submissions from agents.  Since I pay for his services, I use them judiciously.

Having an agent has not magically elevated me beyond my peers.  I have won and placed in my fair share of competitions, and I have had a great deal of success getting my work published, but I still get up every day and look for that opportunity to reach out into the stratosphere and make a new contact.  If I can’t find a theatre accepting submissions, I look for venues that handle my kind of story.  Believe it or not, many theatres like certain types of scripts, and they are more likely to produce yours if it’s similar to others they have recently done. 

You may also have more success if you get to know their preferences for cast size and gender/race composition.  Before you reach out to an artistic director, get to know the organization.  Use Facebook, LinkedIn, or any other social media to research a potential contact.  The more you know about them, the more flattered they will be, and the more they will know you are genuinely interested in their theatre and what they do.  We all like it when someone takes the time to learn about what we do.

One friend is a writer who signed up for both Facebook and LinkedIn and has never even completed her profile on either.  Needless to say, she hasn’t maximized these tools’ abilities to reach out to those who can help her best.

Facebook has a wonderful group called The Official Playwrights of Facebook where Dusty Wilson generously posts submission opportunities at the beginning of each month.  LinkedIn hosts groups dedicated to Playwrights, Broadway Producers and Investors, and International Theatre, just to name a few.  Do you think you could find more and better opportunities by connecting with people in these groups?  I know you can!  Why?  Because I have!

If you are a playwright hoping to establish more opportunities for your work to be seen, you must commit to promotion.  Don’t wait, hoping one day for that elusive agent.  Don’t make excuses.  Grab the bull by the horns and use the many and varied means available to you now to build a network of people who genuinely want to and are able to help further your work today.  If you’re not familiar with technology, find a convenient teenager to explain Twitter and tweeting.  Offer to edit an English paper in return for her help.  There are too many ways of promoting your work to lose one more day!  After all, your work is wonderful!  Fabulous!  The world needs the insights in your latest play!  It’s not fair of you to keep your light under a bushel basket.  Get out there and let the world know what you have to offer!  You may be surprised when it welcomes you with open arms!


© Kris Bauske 2013. This article may be reproduced only with full attribution to the copyright holder.


  • 09 Oct 2013 8:57 PM | Mahasin D. Shamsid-Deen
    Valuable and insightful. What a wonderful and inspiring article. Thanks for sharing.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 11:35 AM | Kristine Bauske
      And what a kind response! I'm just happy if it helps anyone. There are so many wonderful means of connecting these days. It's a shame if we don't take advantage of all of them!
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  • 10 Oct 2013 6:55 AM | Christine Emmert
    I admire the tone of this opinion. I am more like the friends of hers that find it difficult to self-promote.
    I wasn't inspired, but I am impressed by the remarks made.
    It will always be a struggle to sell one's self for me. But I agree it's the only way to get larger recognition.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 12:07 PM | Kristine Bauske
      Joining LinkedIn or Facebook are really easy. If you only join the basic Playwright groups and get the monthly reminders for submissions, you'll be well ahead of the pack!
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  • 10 Oct 2013 8:58 AM | Donna Hoke
    Thanks, Kris! I couldn't agree more with all of this. I think what flummoxes a lot of us is that we really don't know HOW. I know I don't. I live in a smaller city that does great work, but isn't on the national theater radar. I do Twitter, Linked In and Facebook, but as I have never made the kinds of connections that you're talking about, there are obviously ways I can do it better. While everybody talks about promotion, nobody wants to tell HOW they're doing and who can blame them when the competition is so fierce? Many submit and submit and submit knowing there must be a better way and not quite knowing what that is. Hopefully, your blog opens a discussion about that.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 11:38 AM | Kristine Bauske
      One of the primary ways I connect is to search out artistic directors and producers on LinkedIn. Yes, you will contact 100 people, and maybe 10 will actually make the effort to get to know you and accept your work, but isn't 10% better than 0%? Every new friend in the business is a step in the right direction! Don't be discouraged!
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  • 10 Oct 2013 11:24 AM | Anonymous
    Kris - Thanks for sharing this valuable insight. It's always hard to promote oneself,but you've done it and it's workable. One of my best self promotions is my printed resume, sent with all queries,and of course a website tells visually and verbally of one's work. Keep promoting.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 11:40 AM | Kristine Bauske
      Here's another suggestion I've found valuable ~ the old fashioned hand-written Thank You note. If someone takes the time to read your play and gives you feedback, send them a Thank You note. Make it personal and make it count! If someone helps you get your script to the right person in their organization, send a Thank You note. There are so few hand-written anythings in the world today, they make a positive impact. The person who receives it will remember you with a smile when your name comes up again!
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  • 10 Oct 2013 11:28 AM | Sheila Rinear
    Thank you so much, Kris, for this so true pep-talk. It is exactly what I need right now. Just submitted lots of scripts last month and I'm afraid I've been resting on the laurels this week. Back to work! Thanks again.
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  • 10 Oct 2013 12:01 PM | Mary Bracken Phillips
    Thanks Kris! I learned years ago that having an agent does not relieve us of the responsibility to promote our own work. I have not yet gotten a single production that did not come out of some connection or submission I made myself. And yet, I still don't work hard enough at it. Your schedule is really impressive! OK, I'm getting off my a.. Thanks for the great advice.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 11:43 AM | Kristine Bauske
      Way to be, Mary! Think of yourself as the brainy, theatrical version of a marathon runner. You must train every day to compete. Those who won't make the finish line are those who don't push past their comfort level. And don't let the bad days get to you! There's always a fresh start with a new day!
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  • 10 Oct 2013 1:15 PM | Elana Gartner
    Thanks so much Kris! I've also found the Playwright Binge to be a great source of support and opportunities for script submissions. They are a Yahoo group, easily found through a search.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 11:44 AM | Kristine Bauske
      Elana, care to elaborate on the Playwright Binge? I didn't know Yahoo had groups. Help! How do I get there?
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  • 11 Oct 2013 11:16 AM | Mary Bracken Phillips
    Here's a question for you. Do you think electronic submissions are less effective than hard copy or vice versa? Some theatres will accept either, but many theatres will only accept one or the other. If given a choice, I opt for email as it is easier and cheaper, but it's also easier to push "delete" and forget about.
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    • 11 Oct 2013 12:05 PM | Kristine Bauske
      Back in the day, I had a mentor who said you must always send a hard copy of your script. Today, there are more people using Kindle and other ereaders who prefer electronic files. A) It is easier to send to their responding readers. B) It saves trees, and we artists like to be proactive with the environment! Electronic submissions are now the accepted means of submitting to almost everyone.
      No reputable theatrical organization is going to put out a call for scripts and then hit the 'Delete' button, and I guess I'm naive enough to believe that every artistic director is curious enough to get through her pile of submissions at some point, even if they are electronic. Try the suggestion I mentioned above... Send a Thank You note via snail mail after a month or two has passed. This reminds the artistic director of your name and the name of your play, and maybe it will encourage her to read it if she hasn't yet!
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  • 11 Oct 2013 2:31 PM | farzana moon
    Many thanks, dear Kris, I keep thinking about promotion, but do very little. For my books, I have found it helpful contacting reading groups, local, college and university libraries, even churches if the material involves religion.
    All the Best,
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    • 11 Oct 2013 8:39 PM | Kristine Bauske
      Farzana, I'm hoping this blog just reminded us all how important it is to keep reaching out. As long as you're making an effort, you have a much better chance of knocking on the door that may open onto success. Keep at it!
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  • 13 Oct 2013 11:37 PM | Debbie Ann Tan
    Thanks for not sugar-coating, Kris. An eye-opener about the issue of agents. Very realistic, lots of lessons to be learned. Very good article.
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    • 15 Oct 2013 9:51 AM | Kris Bauske
      Honesty is the best policy, Debbie. So many playwrights seem to hold their breath, waiting for an agent to pick them up and touch them with a magic wand. This just isn't how the business works. First, we work, then we may get friends who help us work, but our work never, never stops. Nor should it. Our plays are like our children. We never really detach from them either.
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