In this example, a playwright wrote an original script and it was produced in his hometown. He wanted his original two-act play bound and published for posterity, and had hopes of securing future productions outside his home region. After consulting with me, he decided to hire me to help him publish his work. The playwright provided me with the manuscript as a digital file, a photograph from the original production for the cover, and a cast and crew list from the program for inclusion in the script. His script needed some editing for typos, spelling and formatting, but nothing beyond what is included in the basic contract.
In only 24 working hours, the script was ready to be printed. The author proofed it online overnight, and received his initial order of ten scripts within two weeks. The total cost of publishing his play was just $400, which included printing costs for 10 copies and shipping.
After receiving his plays, the playwright submitted the play to a call for submissions of new work to be produced that he heard about. He also marketed the play on his own website, on social networking sites and through his network of theatre friends. Since his intent was only to preserve his work, and market it himself to other theaters, he did not need an ISBN barcode, and the script was not made available on Amazon.com or in bookstores and libraries.
Because he published the play and marketed it outside his home region, a theatre company out of state decided to produce the play. The author acted as his own agent, and asked a lawyer friend to draw up a simple contract to grant rights for the production. (Sample contracts are also available online.) His royalty for this production at a small professional theatre in a major metropolitan city was 6% of the gross ticket sales. Because the production company purchased the scripts directly from the playwright, he was able to mark them up slightly and earn $50 on the sale of the scripts, which covered most of the printing costs. The play was a hit, and the author’s royalties from the production earned him in excess of $1,000. It also garnered an award for the theatre that produced it, gaining the author recognition outside of his home region.
Because of the success of the production and through his marketing efforts, the author began to get requests to produce his play in high schools and colleges, community and regional theaters all over the country. His lawyer drew up a second contract for such non-professional companies, and depending on the size of the theatre and the length of the run, he usually earns $200 – $500 per production by non-professional houses.
This is a hypothetical example based on real experiences from several playwrights I know and have published for.