A writer contacted me last week, pitching an article on how freelancers can become successful playwrights or screenwriters. Now, I’ve been in this business long enough to know that profitable freelance playwriting and screenwriting is about as common as becoming a highly paid actor. EXTREMELY RARE! Working on a real project with millions in funding is one thing. Playwriting or screenwriting for anything else will likely only be a labor of love, earning you less than minimum wage (likely pennies per hour in the end, if that), or nothing at all. At WritersWeekly, we don’t sell pipe dreams because, like us, our readers have families to feed and bills to pay.
This individual in particular said he’d written “several works” and that he produced and directed one of them. Naturally, I was skeptical.
I sent a one-sentence reply:
“How much money did you earn on your project?”
He said the show ran for a week (it was obviously a play), and earned $3,000.
Of course, I knew he meant ticket sales. That didn’t include any of his other expenses.
I sent another one-sentence reply:
“What was your net profit after expenses?”
He said the show cost $1,000 but that he got some people to invest in it so his out-of-pocket expense was $250. He said the show’s profit was $2000.
So, he wrote an entire screenplay, which likely took weeks or months. He then had to put all the moving parts into play for the actual production (including, according to him, his “fundraising events”), and he did all of that for only a $2K profit. Even if one individual only worked full-time (40 hours/week) for three months on the writing, organization, and production (I’m sure it took far longer than that in actual man-hours), that’s only $4.17 per hour, which is below minimum wage, and far less than you need to feed a family. If it took six month at 40 hours/week (I think that estimate is low, too), that’s only $2.08 per hour.
Unfortunately, some sites do publish these pipe dream articles and writers who don’t know any better get involved in projects that will end up costing money, lots of it, in the end. Sadly, this individual didn’t appear to realize he’d been working so hard for so little money (until I pointed it out to him) and he wanted to try to convince other writers what a great job this was. In his pitch, he even said writers “can not only write their own plays or films but self-produce them and make a substantial profit from them.”
Below minimum wage is NOT a “substantial profit!”
With the time involved with not only writing, but also all the other work involved, it’s likely you worked for less than minimum wage in the end. Our readers are looking for real ways to make money that will help support their families so we don’t promote projects that won’t do that.
While we’d all love to be writing screenplays in dark rooms on antique typewriters, and while we’d all love to be sitting in the director’s chair yelling “cut!”, the fact is, folks, that it’s not likely to happen. I, myself, prefer to stick to real writing that makes real money. Most of you have families, like me, and can’t afford to follow bad advice. Don’t be fooled by people and publications pushing false success stories. If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Before you believe someone’s claims, think about what’s involved, and do the math. If you do, it won’t be too hard to figure out if you’re about to embark on something that will take your attention away from REAL writing work that pays REAL money.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!
Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE