by Kitty Felde
I’ve taken a leave of absence from playwriting.
I was frustrated by Covid, joining legions of theatre-goers who still aren’t comfortable sitting that close to human beings in a crowded space. I was even more frustrated by the pre-Covid developmental process that discouraged actual performances live, on stage.
Instead, I’ve been writing books for kids. There’s something magical about holding something solid in your hands, proof that your writing actually exists after the curtain goes down. If it ever goes up.
I spent last week in an Amazon Ad class, trying to unlock the mysteries of Jeff Bezos’ marketing platform. I knew nothing, but dutifully created category ads, keyword ads, writing and rewriting a pitch line.
It was when I learned how to read the numbers, I discovered that an old play of mine was selling like crazy.
A Patch of Earth is my most-produced play, a courtroom drama about a Bosnian war criminal who confessed to killing “no more than 70” of the 1200 people shot in a cornfield near Srebrenica. I’d covered the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia as a reporter and was haunted by the story of Drazen Erdemovic long after his trial was over. So I combined courtroom testimony with fiction and put his story on the stage.
Since most of the characters are in their early 20’s, the play is particularly popular on high school and college campuses and I’d often get requests from teachers for a pdf of the play for a classroom discussion. I happily sent it, since I felt it was an important story for the next generation to learn about to prevent the next genocide.
But I was tired of emailing pdfs.
The play was included in an anthology from The University of Wisconsin Press, but at $30 a copy, with a title like The Theatre of Genocide: Four Plays about Mass Murder in Rwanda, Bosnia, Cambodia, and Armenia you can imagine the number of copies flying off the shelf.
Nonetheless, I owned the rights, so I self-published A Patch of Earth on Amazon.
And then forgot about it. Until that Amazon Ad class.
Who knew? Even with a lousy cover, my acting edition of the play has been quietly, but steadily selling. The script contains information about performance rights. But because the play is historically accurate, the demand has mostly been from teachers and college professors who want to tackle the Bosnian war in their classroom curriculum.
So, may I suggest that you consider publishing your own plays? It’s not difficult.
You need to open a KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account in Amazon.
I chose a 6” x 9” format in paperback. Amazon has free templates you can download for lots of sizes if you want something specific. Just cut and paste your play, and download as a pdf.
If you want an ebook version, you want to sign up at Reedsy and use their free Book Editor app. They provide easy instructions. Again, download your play.
For covers, there are lots of places you can find templates for ebooks and paperbacks. I paid less than $100 for an ebook cover for a novella recently, hiring one of the artists on Fivrr.
You’ll need to know how many pages your book is, including dedication, copyright information, cast list, etc. Amazon has a template for that, too.
You upload the lot to your KDP account, along with price, book description, etc. Then, just wait a day or two, and voila!
And then you can learn the not-so-wonderful world of Amazon ads…
Kitty Felde has written more than a dozen plays, including A Patch of Earth. The play won the Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition, and has been performed around the world. She co-founded Theatre of NOTE. Now, instead of writing about war crimes, she explains civics to kids in a series of mystery novels The Fina Mendoza Mysteries.