It’s been a while. Grad school keeps me crazy busy with writing and recently I joined AEA so I’ve been pretty busy with stage managing too. But enough about me.
I want to talk about a serious issue (part one of a series, let’s say), I want to talk about killing trees and submissions. As a playwright who submits many of my plays (or just the same play to hundreds of companies nationwide), I offend come across submission postings that say “No email,” or “Please send all materials to this address __insert mailing address here___.” And it’s been making me a bit frustrated. First of all, I’m broke, let’s face it, who isn’t, and printing a 120 page script 7 times last month turned out to be $72. That’s crazy, but when you think about it — it’s a lot of paper and ink…. and it shouldn’t cost THAT much, but I get it, copier companies, even the local not corporate ones, need to make money too. That being said, every time I see “All submissions must be sent via mail (sorry, no email),” I see it as a submission fee.
As we all know, there is a boycott on submission fee companies. I can’t say that I am entirely ready to boycott certain festivals I would like to be in because of submission fees, and this is a topic for another post (part 2 perhaps), but when I see a company ask me to send them in paper my full length play, that they “will not return,” I think… sheesh that’s a lot of wasted paper. That’s a lot of trees and ink. Let alone money. It not only costs to print 90-120 pages but it also costs to ship it, and if you want to make sure it gets there you might put a SASE or SASP which costs money, and a maybe even delivery confirmation. $$$$.
My question is, isn’t asking a writer to submit a hard copy (sometimes bound) of your script the same thing as asking for a submission fee? AND some companies/festivals ask for both! Where do we, the poor writers, get money to print and ship? There really aren’t enough fellowships and grants for all of us. (Is there, government?)
My brother pointed out that perhaps snail mail and submission fees are ways to weed out the “crap,” his words, because just like schools that ask for GRE scores (a test that means nothing), it’s a way for a company to receive less submissions. If Joe Playwright doesn’t want to print or pay a fee to submit his play, then that is one less play a festival or company will have to read. It weeds out the people that aren’t committed enough to to print or pay. I told my brother that this is not the case, that if anything we are just as committed, just poor and tired of sneakily standing at the copier at the place we work to put food on the table, pretending to make copies of the weekly report or press release, or menu, and instead printing our scripts.
And what about the environment? What about saving this planet? Aren’t we asked to write plays all the time about current events and social issues… here is one.
So yes, some folks are boycotting submissions that ask for a submission fee, but I wonder why are we not boycotting submissions that require hard copies? Isn’t that a submission fee?