So, here are my numbers for this decade so far. At first, I was a bit reluctant to post this, for fear of dashing any illusions I've painted of my wild success. But really, who am I kidding. I've had quite a few productions over the past eight years, and one novel published, and I'm grateful for all of them and for all of my audience and readers. I'll keep working on getting these numbers to grow, and that's about all I can do. No sense grinding my teeth over whether to say I've been successful or not--it depends on how you look at it. I get to write what I want and I get to work with people I like--that certainly seems sufficient. More would be nice, too, don't get me wrong.
Anyway, here are the numbers:
Audience numbers count both attendance at performances and novel/script sales. I always ask producers to give me box office totals after a show. If that doesn't work, I tend to make a guess (very conservatively). (I'm a numbers guy--I have a big spreadsheet that tracks audience and income, for every one of my plays/books, since 1990. (In 1990, 225 people saw my work. I earned $0.))
You can see that the amounts vary quite a bit. This coming year, as I wrote previously, I can already count on two radio broadcasts (though those numbers are hard to estimate) and more than $2,000 in writing income.
On the plus side, since 2000, more than 36,000 people have read, seen, or heard my work, which is pretty cool. On the downside, I haven't earned enough to pay for one year of tuition and expenses for my daughter to attend UMass (I have time--she's only in 8th grade). Lots to think about.
I'm dying with curiosity (I'm nosy) to know how this all works for other playwrights/novelists. Maybe it feels too private to share--we don't want people to be jealous of us, or to scorn us because we're earning/being viewed so little. Personally, I think it helps to have as much information as possible, no matter what stage you're at.