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Writers: You’ll have your book published or rejected in a single email. Here’s how NOT to blow it

Sending query emails is your first line of attack and is a great way of getting your screenplay solicited. Most query emails however are badly worded, weird and/or generally needy, making it very easy for agents, producers and their assistants to delete or send that “no unsolicited material” link back to.

But as we know, it’s perfectly possible to get your screenplay solicited, even if that company’s official line is “no unsolicited material” – so how do you do that? Check this out:

1) NAME of person (never send to “info” etc emails, find out WHO the assistant is … make enquiries or even better, call the company up you want to query on the telephone and ASK!)

2) SUBJECT LINE: “Enquiry” or “Query”, can’t stress this enough. Don’t leave it blank. If you want, you can include your screenplay’s title and genre here, but it’s an optional extra.

3) And now for the message itself: keep it short and to the point. Here’s a model email for you:

Dear (NAME – never Sir/Madam),

My name is (INSERT YOUR OWN NAME) and I am a screenwriter (with THESE CREDITS – if applicable … If not, INSERT YOUR WEBSITE URL to the “ABOUT ME” section – this bit is optional though, natch.). 

I was wondering if you would be interested in reading the One Page Pitch of my screenplay (INSERT TITLE), which is a (GENRE/ FORMAT – Feature? Returning Drama Series? Sitcom? etc) and is about (INSERT LOGLINE). 

Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.

Yours sincerely,

A. Writer

Links to Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/wherever

You don’t *have* to write it like that, but I’ve had some good results with the above. And let’s figure it gets you a result too: said agent or producer you’ve contacted wants to read your One Page Pitch and perhaps has solicited the screenplay or novel manuscript too. Congratulations!

And here’s where so many writers go wrong, usually for one of these three reasons:

They send the wrong stuff, too quickly. I can’t tell you how many times I have requested things like One Page Pitches, the first ten pages or chapters or whole scripts for contests etc and in their excitement, trigger-happy writers send me the WRONG stuff. Take a moment to absorb emails that ask for stuff, check you’re attaching the right things, THEN send it. One writer sent me a run of SEVEN emails for one particular scheme, each more apologetic and hysterical than the last, until BOTH of us ended up with a minor nervous breakdown.

They go OTT on  their script’s life story. A lot of writers feel validated when their stuff is solicited – and why not? It means someone likes the sound of their work, which feels great. But at this stage, share it with your friends and family – not the people soliciting your work. They’ve asked for your screenplay or manuscript, not its whole history of development. Yet I’ve had writers regale me for PAGES about how the script started (usually on their screenwriting MA); how it took four thousand wrong turns (for whatever story or life reason) and HOW SURE the writer now is that this new draft is THE RIGHT ONE. But all those writers end up doing is TALKING DOWN their work without realising.

They SQUEEE all over the next email. After being markedly restrained in their approach in the first instance, writers figure they can let it all hang out in the next communication and be uber-pally and exhuberant. It’s like going from 0-60 in 2 seconds and feels decidedly odd, especially when writers then make all kinds of confessions… I’ve had writers tell me they’re SO RELIEVED to get through the next round because their DOG HAD JUST DIED and life’s been SO BAD LATELY and getting through on this contest MEANS LIFE IS WORTH LIVING and they’re NOT EVEN CLOSE TO JOKING. And nor am I, bizarrely.

So rather than stick your foot right in it, how about something like:

Dear (NAME),

Many thanks for soliciting my One Page Pitch/screenplay/novel (TITLE), which I attach to this message for your perusal.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Best wishes,

A. Writer

Links to Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/wherever

As Gordon would say: DONE.

Originally published on Bang2Write.


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