Dear Make Musicals… Pest vs Self-Promoter?

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Dear Make Musicals,
Say you have a connection to a producer, literary manager or theater company and have been invited to send along some of your new musical’s material. Is there any appropriate way or time to follow up without being a pest? There would be exceptions to every rule, of course, but is there a rule?  It can be so hard for musical theater writers to get our work out there, and lots of us are ill at ease with the self-promotion stuff.    Sincerely,    Self-Promotion Shy Stacey

Dear Shy Stacey:
Great question! I posed your query to several of my colleagues who are also producers or receive submissions to see if there were any common themes or “rules” as you requested. The consensus seems to be as follows:

1.When asked to submit, do so promptly and provide as much context as possible.

Something like “We met at such and such event and you were interested in my new musical and suggested I send it to you. As a reminder it’s about xyz, etc…”

2. Following up within a month is appropriate.

When you’re submitting your work to someone (outside of a formal festival submission process which may not permit follow up calls) it’s entirely appropriate to touch base via email. They may not have read your show yet but this will serve as the reminder that they wanted to read it.

DON’T SAY: “Have you read my script yet? I’d love your notes and feedback.”

This requires too much of a response and while they might have every intention of providing notes and feedback they may not have had time to pull their thoughts together on your musical and it could get set aside and risk being overlooked.

DO SAY: “I’m just following up to see if you’ve have an opportunity to consider my piece. I’d love to discuss it further at your convenience.”

This is lower pressure on them but still accomplishes the same goal of gently prodding them to keep your show front of mind.

3. Send regular updates on your work.

I highly recommend personally sending quarterly or twice-yearly update emails to anyone who has expressed sincere interest in your work. Keep these very low pressure – something like: “Thanks again for considering [xyz show], I’d still love to discuss it with you further at some point. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know that we’ve done a reading and I’ve attached the revised script. Also, my new show is being workshopped at…etc.”

In conclusion, if someone is sincerely interested in you and your work a low pressure but persistent approach will assure that you are not a pest and, in fact, will be welcomed and appreciated.

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