Interview With Writers AMuse Me Publishing by Mariah Wilson

Interview With Writers AMuse Me Publishing by Mariah Wilson

Writers AMuse Me Publishing has been around for some time, so Mariah Wilson has decided to do an interview because they are now including plays.
Your publishing house recently opened its submission box to include Plays. What prompted this decision?
Unlike authors, who have a growing list of options for publishing their books, playwrights don’t have that. There are a handful of big houses, and that’s about it. One of the reasons for this is because publishing plays is a bit more labor-intensive, but the other part of the equation is that you don’t really ‘sell’ the play; it’s more like you rent it out for others to use.
That said, there ARE sales for perusal copies and performing copies of the play. From the current roster of publishing houses that deal in plays, there is not one penny from the sale of those copies of the scripts that goes to the playwright. Let me say that again… the playwright sees no royalty from the sale of their scripts. If your play has ten characters, there are ten ‘book’ sales, plus directors, lighting, etc, who also need copies of the play, so it’s now 15 copies, plus the perusal copies that were bought before the play was even started. It’s wrong that the playwright sees none of that money. The only royalties they get are based on the actual performance rights.
I know a number of excellent playwrights. It’s wrong that they don’t get paid for their written word. Perhaps this is tilting at windmills, but the industry standard is horribly unfair. A writer  – any writer – should be paid for his words when they are sold.
Also, there are some ways that plays can be made more affordable to the small groups that want some options for their production clubs and companies. We want to give them more options, and more availability for plays.
Can you explain the difference in how a novelist is paid as opposed to how a playwright is paid?
When a play is ‘sold’, the purchaser – usually a production company, community theater, school or drama club – signs a contract that specifies the dates they will be doing the play, the number of performances and the number of seats in the theater that could potentially be sold. The contract is reviewed to make sure there are no other performances of that play at the same time within a specific radius, then the materials are shipped to the purchaser for them to use for those specified performances only. There is a trust factor involved, to be sure, but with internet now, it’s a lot easier to make sure the play isn’t being performed illegally. The playwright receives a small percentage of the performance rights only. A novelist gets a percentage of each book sold.
How are you looking to change this? 
We’re looking at a number of changes. Obviously the first change is to make sure the playwright gets a royalty based on the sales of his scripts. We’re also going to offer the scripts digitally. Yes, we know that some will argue that to do so opens the play up to being illegally copied or shared. Yes, it does, but in a day and age when we all have scanners, printers and photocopiers sitting on our desks, that is possible with just about anything. We watch for those illegal activities the same way every other play publisher does. Having bundled digital versions makes for an affordable, quick, green way to do the plays.
We’re also looking at, when we open to musicals, changing things up there as well. The industry standard is that musical scores, etc, are ‘rented’ to the production group. That means the publisher packs up boxes full of binders, ships them to the group, then waits for them to come back. When they are returned in proper condition, the group gets a refund of some of their money, but the rental costs and shipping costs are huge. This was done to prevent, again, illegal copying. I again say that with all of us having instant access to copy machines, if they want to copy, they will copy, so why not just streamline the system and sell them the music? It makes doing a musical more affordable for the production company, and a whole lot easier for everyone.
Our contracts ALL allow for video rights for the production company. We know it happens. You cannot stop people from copying a performance on their phones or cameras when again, everyone has that capability right in their pocket. What we do is sell the rights to allow for the production company to film the performance, then make and distribute up to 100 copies. It gives the production company the opportunity to help out with their financial bottom line, it gets the plays seen by more people, and it gives the playwright some money for what we know will happen anyway. There are, of course, limitations on what the production company can do and where they can use the video, but we think that this is a valuable piece of the puzzle.
We also are changing how artwork and posters are handled. They are typically sold optionally with the play, and in most cases, they are not purchased because they are cost-prohibitive. For any small production organization to have to pay the extra for this is a lot to ask, but it is a missed opportunity for the publisher and the playwright to get what is essentially brand name recognition. You see anything with a white face mask and you know it’s the Phantom. In order to make the artwork affordable for the end user, instead of having artists on contract to do the art on our behalf (giving the artist a one-time payment for their work, no matter how many times it gets used), our artists are not on staff, and they provide the artwork on a royalty basis, meaning that for each time the poster or playbill is purchased for a production, the artist gets paid a royalty. This makes it more affordable for the production group, which in turn helps to create that recognition with the end product.
Why do you think these are important changes to make? 
Up to now, the lion’s share of the money generated by a play lands in the publisher’s pocket, to the detriment of the playwright. That’s wrong. The playwright should be given a royalty on the sale of each copy of their work, and plays should be more accessible to everyone. They are a vital part of any community structure. We need to work to maintain that.
Do you think this will catch on at other publishing houses? 
We can hope so, but I doubt the traditional long-standing publishing houses will change their position. They are used to the money going to them – from the video rights, the copy sales, the rentals for music and scores, for artwork. Hopefully there will be a few more options for playwrights, but it won’t be easy. We know that, but we’re a pretty determined bunch. We have some excellent editors and consultants with decades of experience in the theater in many capacities. If we can bring about some change that makes sure the playwrights get what they should be getting, then that’s all the better.
What kind of plays are you looking for? 
Right now we are open to full length plays and to one-act plays. Down the road, we will also open up to musicals. We will not be considering ten-minute plays. They simply don’t work with this business model.
Any final thoughts on the subject? 
We live in a time where money is a bit harder to come by. We are seeing schools and colleges cut back on many programs, and unfortunately art programs seem to be the first thing on the chopping block. We need to make some changes so that we don’t lose access to something so vital to our society as a play production. The value of entertainment is always under rated in these discussions, but we need it. We need to be able to see ourselves as we are, we need to see society as it is, and we need to have that release. Plays have existed almost for as long as society has – longer than television, longer than movies – and I think there is a reason that performers who appear on screen often find their way back to the stage. We can’t lose that. Plays need to be accessible to all ages, to all income levels, and with the current structure for publishing them, it becomes more of a challenge for groups to be able to perform them. There also is NO reason why a playwright is not paid for his written words. To me, that’s inexcusable.
Tomorrow’s post will be about NaNoWriMo and why I can’t participate, along with fans’ responses to how they participate in NaNoWriMo–including a funny one from my publisher that has nothing to do with NaNo.
Review of Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon Thompson

Review of Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon Thompson

Shannon Thompson’s ‘Minutes Before Sunset’ is a story of Eric Wellborn, a shade destined to win a harrowing battle for the survival of his kind. However, when he meets an abandoned shade who possesses more power than he thought possible, he questions everything he thought he knew.

Then there is Jessica Taylor, who moves to Hayworth and longs to find her adoptive parents. Of course, she must maintain good grades, and Eric Wellborn doesn’t help her cause with his indifference. But she is determined to crack Eric’s cocky exterior, even if that means revealing what she’s trying to hide.

Keep in mind there are two point-of-views in this novel: Eric’s and Jessica’s. Both are equally intriguing, and, if you’re observant, you’ll figure out early on the significance of both POVs, which will leave you dying to keep turning the page. I finished the novel within two days and would have finished sooner, but I have little time for reading anymore, so it’s great that I finished this book as soon as I did. It’s been a while since I’ve read such a book that made me want to keep turning the pages.

At first, the plot seems simplistic: Eric is destined to win a war outlined in a prophecy in order to save his kind. Prophecies in themselves aren’t original, but what’s fascinating is that Ms. Thompson writes Eric in such a way that makes readers question how he can win such a war when he himself does not seem strong. What is even more fascinating is that there is more to the prophecy than even Eric, a first descendant (take this to mean someone important, powerful), is allowed to know. His character development is sharp too. He goes from being a cocky, indifferent boy, to someone who shows what he has been hiding all along. He makes sacrifices, even at the cost of his own life.

Then there is Jessica’s POV. Hers is a fascinating one because as a reader, you might question why her POV exists at all. But if you’re observant, you’ll quickly realize the connection between her chapter’s and Eric’s, and, as I’ve stated above, you’ll want to keep reading just to see how things play out. It’s one of those ‘reader knows, but character doesn’t’ kind of things, and those can be fun.

What I most enjoyed about the book were the descriptions, especially of the shades. Ms. Thompson did a stellar job of describing the shades and their powers. I could imagine shadows dripping, light sparkling and exploding, traces of light and shadows fanning out in iridescent strands; shadows pluming; and light bursting. The entire book is a chiaroscuro, and it is so easy to imagine the world of the shades. Eyes, especially, are an enormous motif in this book because shade eye colors differ from human eye colors: They can be a brilliant, almost unnatural blue, or a purple color. They are the windows to people who are otherwise trapped within themselves.

Overall, I give this book a 4.5 out of 5, just because some of the descriptions were repeated more than they should have been, like eye or hair color. Fans of paranormal or paranormal romance in general will enjoy this book. You can buy it on Amazon and Smashwords. You can also find Shannon Thompson here.

In issue 10 of The Corner Club Press, I will delve deeper into Mrs. Thompson’s book through a literary analysis, especially over how dark and light interweave to create a chiaroscuro art piece.

Writing Through a Reader’s Eyes

Writing Through a Reader’s Eyes

As a writer, I do know how to separate my writer’s side from my reader’s side. I mean, I will analyze the book and how it goes about telling the story, but I don’t let myself get hung up on the little stuff because the average reader doesn’t care, so why should I? In my own writing I get hung up on the little stuff, but I feel like we writers get so hung up on the little stuff that I often wonder why that is. Is it because it’s been pounded into our heads to obsess over the little stuff, or are we trying to appease the experts, wanting them to say we’re great writers because passive voice is nonexistent in our books (or something else readers really don’t care about)?

I’m here to say your average reader doesn’t care about that one time you used passive voice. Or even the five other times. They’re only going to start caring when it becomes obvious you’ve used it too much. You might have your reader who is also a writer or a reader who is a grammar Nazi, but I’ve never respected the latter and the former is probably why we obsess so much over the small stuff.

Readers also don’t care about ‘said bookisms’ or adverbs as much as we think they do. They only care if it’s used too much. But if you have one instance where you use an adverb instead of a stronger verb, your reader isn’t going to care. Only you will. And perhaps your editor. I just got back into AbsoluteWrite, and it kind of reminded me why I stopped: Because these writers are downright snobs, so obsessed with pounding out every grammatical detail that we forget the story is so much more important. It’s probably why I retreated to YALITCHAT, because we’re more concerned with the story and the reader than we are with the small stuff. If you’re on AbsoluteWrite, don’t take my above statement to mean you. It’s just my general experience. I feel like you can’t mention that you got published without some of these users scrutinizing you and the company who accepted you. That hasn’t happened to me, but I’ve seen it.

I feel like many writers don’t look at their manuscripts with readers in mind. I feel like they think about the writers who are readers when going through and polishing everything. “Will this reader get on to me about this adverbs, or this passive voice, or this split infinitive (which, by the way, has no strong basis for why it can be used)?” We forget that when we go through, we have to think about the pure reader. The reader who only wants a good story, not a book that showcases examples of flawless grammar.

Does this mean we should eschew some of the small stuff? No way! That would be an insult to our readers. It’s like ballet dancers eschewing their technique because the average audience knows nothing on ballet. They might not care if you bend your knee on a pirouette, but we know a straightened knee is far more beautiful, and we want to give that type if beauty to audience members who shelled out a fortune on the tickets. You want to give your audience the best performance possible, and the best performance does include a highly-polished manuscript. But don’t be upset if you find you missed a piece of passive voice you meant to be active. Or that you even found a typo. The fact is, if the errors aren’t too much, your average reader will look at the story and nothing more–unless they are writers who are readers. These guys will tear apart self-published books for little reason other than being petty and trying to prove why the stigma exists. But they are not true reviewers in my mind.