Theater Around the Bay: 10 Ways For A Playwright To Self-Promote

We’re planning to do a lot of guest blogs in 2014, and Rachel Bublitz, a first time contributor, wants you to know that it’s okay to talk about yourself, in fact, she encourages it.

This kid would rather make his head explode than hear you talk about yourself. Nice knowing ya, kid.

This kid would rather make his head explode than hear you talk about yourself. Nice knowing ya, kid.

When you think of self-promotion, you probably think it’s where you tell everyone who will listen how fabulous your life is and how they should all be envious of you, right? Wrong. I know self-promotion feels like showing off, or bragging, but it’s essential if you want people to know about what you’re doing. And if you’re not a playwright, don’t think you’re getting off so easy because this applies to you too, no matter what kind of art you’re doing, if you want the world to know, you’ve gotta tell ‘em. So hold on to your pants, I’m about to get all five-paragraph-essay and talk you through this article: I’m going to give you insider info about how important self-promotion is from someone who promotes writers for a living, then I’ll list ten things you should be doing and/or should know about self-promotion, and finally I plan on ending this post explaining why I think self promotion is so freakin’ important.

My good friend Kat Engh, a Communications Associate at Berrett-Koehler Publishers, said this when I asked her about self promotion:

“I think self-promotion gets a bad rap. You’re not selling broken vacuums door-to-door here, you’re selling an experience – one that I would hope you’d feel passionate about enough to be confident that someone else would enjoy that experience. It’s important to keep in mind that a publicist’s job is to help get you the opportunities to promote your work. When a radio producer asks a publicist for an interview, she doesn’t want to talk to your publicist on air, she wants to talk to you.

“Publicity is like dating; the people with the most confidence in their work tend to attract more media opportunities. I’ve worked with people with varying levels of experience with self-promotion, and it should come as no surprise that the ones who were more comfortable promoting themselves tend to yield the most results publicity-wise. Publicists recognize the importance of confidence, too, and many will opt not to take on a client if they have reason to believe that the artist won’t sell his or herself when new press opportunities are found.”

So not only is it good practice to promote your own work (so that your self-promotion skills improve as your audience grows), it also makes you more attractive for folks out there who might want to represent you.

Now it’s list time! Here are the ten things you should know and/or should be doing to promote your work:

Go See Other People’s Shows

This is huge. Like an actor? Director? A company? Supporting their work will only help convince them to support yours. When you see a show you enjoy, talk to the folks involved and tell them about yourself. Hand them a postcard of your show, or let them know about an upcoming reading you have. I know it sounds shady to go to another event to promote your own work, and I also know that talking to strangers can be hard (stranger-danger and all), but you’ve got to ignore the scary feelings and talk yourself up.

Know What You’re Selling

Know who would be interested in your plays. Last summer, when my first play was produced (which was a comedy about a sex-fantasy obsessed housewife), I knew it wouldn’t be for everyone. My mother-in-law, for example, not her cup of tea. So, while she knew that I had a show, I didn’t bombard her with information about a show that I knew she would be offended by. This also goes for theaters when you send out your work. Know what plays you write, and know where they would work and where they won’t work.

Have An Online “Landing Page”

There are tons of social media tools out there, and tons of blog options. This can be overwhelming, when you start rattling off the fifteen different places that people can find out more information about yourself. Instead of telling folks your email, twitter handle, facebook page link, website, or linkedin account pick on place that can lead people to find all that there is to know about you. I picked my website. If you go to www.rachelbubliz.com you can see my blog, get my contact info, and also “like” my facebook page, and follow my twitter account. Pick a spot, make it homebase.

Make The Internet Work For You

Once you’ve set up your landing page, use a website like IFTTT or If This Than That, to help spread your content around. IFITT allows you to build custom channels so that when you post a blog to your site, it’ll auto post to facebook, twitter, or other sites you use.

Dissect Projects To Create More Content

When you’re involved in a reading, or a show, and you get tired of writing, “My show is coming up, please, please come!” think of taking pieces of the show and highlighting them one at a time. Write a piece about your leading lady one day, interview your lighting designer the next. When you break a show into pieces not only does it give you something new to talk about, it also allows you to bring attention to the other people you’re working with, and shine some spot light on them for a change.

Share Your Process

It doesn’t sounds interesting from your point of view. But to someone else, who isn’t in your head, it can be intriguing. I know that when I started to post about what my artistic process was like, or what it felt like seeing this thing I’d originally only imagined in my head up on stage, people really responded. It’s a fresh perspective, and like taking the pieces of your team apart and highlighting them individually, it creates more content.

Take All The Pictures, All The Time

Then post them on facebook. Then tag them. So take lots of pictures, as long as you’re not pissing anyone off that is. Take pictures of rehearsals, and new costumes, and your director directing, and of everyone dressed up on opening night. And then when you post these and tag everyone involved, the people able to see these pictures and hear about your show grows.

Be Yourself!

It can be hard when you’re creating this internet image around yourself, and you can easily get caught up in making yourself seem better, or more likeable. But be yourself, and stay honest. Don’t gush about a show you saw that you truthfully didn’t like, and don’t try and build yourself as something that you’re not. It takes a long time to gain other people’s trust, and a lot less time to lose it.

Don’t Be A Cry Baby

Shit happens. People don’t get along, or you disagree with the direction something is going in, or you weren’t picked for the festival, or you get a bad review. You can (and should) talk about how much that sucks, I’d advise you to be tactful with names, but then move on. Don’t wallow in disappointment. Don’t start each new post complaining about something new. Take the bull by the horns and change what you don’t like. If that isn’t possible reflect on how you can make it better next time. But don’t cry about it for weeks on end, otherwise your audience will dwindle faster than you can say “unsubscribe.”

Be Patient

This stuff takes time. A loooooong time. So when the artistic director you’ve been wanting to come out and see your show misses the first one, or tenth one, don’t get angry or discouraged, just get back up and tell them about your next. When only had ten people in show up for one of your readings even though you’ve been plugging it for months, shake it off, and remember there can always be a next time. Keep chugging away and do what you do, tell folks about it. It’s been my experience that if you keep that up, one day they’ll listen.

I get why self-promotion is hard. I mean creating art for others to see is hard. You’re sharing an intimate part of yourself. A part that will be judged and reviewed without your feelings in mind. And now on top of that I expect you to put your ego even more on the line by having you tell everyone within a hundred mile radius about your project and why it should matter to them? You bet I do. Self-promotion is important because no one else can do it for you. The bottom line is that no one else cares as much as you do, and that will never change. You should be the most passionate person about what you’re creating, and you need to share that passion with the world that you hope to engage with. That passion is palatable, and contagious, and often inspiring. It puts caution to the wind and says, “Even though I am uncomfortable talking with strangers, and talking about myself, and talking about my dreams, my art is more important.” Because your art is more important. So tell everyone about what you’re doing, tell them non-stop. You’re not being a show-off, I promise.

You can trust this face- can't you?

You can trust this face- can’t you?

Rachel Bublitz is a local playwright, founder of the 31 Plays In 31 Days playwright challenge, Co-Artistic Director of All Terrain Theater, and mother of two. For more information please visit www.rachelbublitz.com.

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3 comments on “Theater Around the Bay: 10 Ways For A Playwright To Self-Promote

  1. lynpa76 says:

    Reblogged this on lynpa76 and commented:
    Even though the networking ideas were nothing new to me, I found this article to be exceptionally helpful. What finally really kicked in was the idea of an online “home base” or website. I think we get so caught up sometimes in updating the social media sites that this becomes outdated and neglected by comparison.

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