As all playwrights in this city know, there are a handful of bars where we tend to hang out. I don’t know if there is a similar territorial compact with authors (I’m still learning all the rules), but when I decided to meet up with my new friends from the Push to Publish Conference last night, it made sense to descend upon one of the playwright hangouts. We decided upon the Race Street Cafe; not only do they have an impressive beer selection, their food is always up to snuff, and they have some of the best fries in the city.
I met up with Maribel Garcia and George Filip, both of whom, I mentioned in my final write-up for Push to Publish. Kelly Sarabyn could not join us, because this is her weekend for high-stakes dart playing, and she’s in the final six with her 401k on the line (Good luck, Kelly; we’re rooting for you!). One of the big topics we discussed was how to get the right people to read your manuscript, and a big step in that direction was deciding who the “right people” are.
Here’s where my experience as a professional playwright came in handy, because their argument was that they go to various functions where successful authors discuss the difficulties they had to overcome, they shake the authors’ hands, and after some smalltalk, ask if they can send the author some pages, and the authors’ responses are invariably, “No.” My point is that they shouldn’t be sending crap to authors, anyway. Sure, I hang out with playwrights a lot, but the most valuable part of those conversations is finding out what theaters are producing next year, who’s looking for what, what theater screwed over what’s-his-name, and other sundry details which, when stitched together, can give you a decent overview of the theatrical landscape. But I don’t meet with playwrights to try and get a play produced, especially not with a playwright I’ve just met.
There are other people you want to meet for that: Artistic Directors, Literary Managers, General Managers, and sometimes directors. I’m still new to the publishing world, and I had walked into the Writer’s Digest Conference last August, thinking that similar meeting happened between authors and literary agents. Not so much, it turns out. No. But if the slush piles at agents’ offices looks anything like the slush piles in any professional theater, it is a miracle that anything gets published. So, I tend to think that there’s a secret process that’s analogous to the Artistic Director meeting.
I have no idea what that might be, but rest assured, that as soon as I figure it out, I’ll be keeping it to myself.
Thanks again to Maribel for driving me into the city and to George for enduring my pretentious crap. I’m looking forward to our next meeting where, hopefully, we can all press our writing agendas and take over the world. Dibs on the Netherlands!