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Old 01-28-2014, 05:25 PM   #1
NewB
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Default So... What now?

About a year ago, I finished my first script (a romantic comedy about online dating). I spent a few months editing it and researching management firms/managers. (This forum was incredibly helpful during that stage, so thank you to all who have contributed. This is my first post.)

Over the next few months, I queried various managers via email (~15 total, all at "top firms" -- at least according to these threads!). About 75% of them requested the script; meaning (*hopefully*) that my logline/concept were solid. (To note: I am the author of several moderately successful young adult novels, and my previous full-time writing experience may have also contributed to the rate of requests). I sent the script to ~10 managers in total (one or two release forms scared me off with their overly stringent terms -- but perhaps that's another post for another time). Then, of course, I waited.

I received three rejections total (two from people who actually seemed to sit down with the script over the weekend after receiving a copy). The rest culminated in long silences. I checked in with everyone after a month or two had passed, and a few said they were going to get to it when they were less flooded with existing client material, but never answered my subsequent follow-ups. I'm bad at badgering people, but I did ask everyone who outright rejected me for feedback (particularly negative!) to no avail. (I understood that getting this type of feedback was a long shot in an industry where people hate to say 'no' and that managers are probably sick and tired of having writers use feedback as an opener to argue against the rejection, but I tried anyway.)

So my question is: what now? Specifically, how do you go about getting useful feedback?

I had as many literary-minded friends and family as I could find read my script before I sent it out, but sadly I don't really know anyone within the industry who could take a look. I'm aware of services like the Blacklist and contests like the Nicholl, but while I'm comfortable sinking my free time into the screenwriting dream, I'm less comfortable sinking in money.

I should add that my hope for this initial script was that out of ten managers, while nine might say "No," one might say: "Okay, you can write -- send me the next one." I could just query more managers but I'd rather get feedback first. It would be very helpful to know what I'm doing wrong, particularly as I continue tinkering with other works in progress.

Thanks for reading -- any and all advice/feedback(!) would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-28-2014, 06:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: So... What now?

Write your next one for the one in ten (really more like 1 in 100). Getting feedback from gatekeepers can be tough in part because of the sheer volume of submissions they receive. They just don't have enough time to do that for everyone who gets passed on. And also there's the weirdness of telling a "no" why it's a no. Just chalk it up to something just aren't the right fit for most people you are going to send it to.

The more typical route for getting useful feedback is from other writers in a writer's group type setting, either in person or online.

Last edited by JoeBanks : 01-28-2014 at 06:23 PM.
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Old 01-28-2014, 07:15 PM   #3
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Default Re: So... What now?

JB is right... your best bet is to find a writer's group either from this forum or from other online screenwriting communities like Triggerstreet.

But the question I'd ask myself if I was in your shoes is "if I'm committed to making this a career shouldn't I be willing to invest in the learning process?"

If this is what you want to do then invest in yourself. It doesn't take a lot of money if you do some research. You don't have to enroll at USC... all it takes is finding a few people that have walked the road you're starting on and have some expertise to help you.

It doesn't cost a lot to use get notes from a guy like The Screenplay Mechanic or a few others on this board. Skip a couple of dinners out (or one if your on the west coast) and send them your script. It's the easiest, cheapest way to see if you're on the right track and to take your work to the next level.
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Old 01-30-2014, 11:36 AM   #4
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Default Re: So... What now?

NewB,

I understand your desire to move into screenwriting but I think your best chance to get your foot in the door is through your novel writing. You've already had some success. Why not write another novel and make sure it is a subject and plot that would translate well to film? Then, if it has some success and creates interest from production companies you could make the deal based on them letting you write the first draft. The better the book sells, obviously the more leverage you would have.

Think about it from the standpoint of producers. The chance of them ever making a future film with other peoples money is based on the success of their next project. They are always going to go with a book with a built-in audience, and more importantly, an audience that has confirmed any doubts about the strength of the story, rather than go with a speculative script.

I'm sure there are many posts online about the odds of selling a screenplay compared to that of novel writing. Anyway, that is just my two cents.


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Old 02-01-2014, 05:11 PM   #5
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Default Re: So... What now?

Thanks for the advice, everyone. I really appreciate it!

Centurio/JB: Any particular way to go about joining a writer's group on this forum or elsewhere online?

Tim: This is an approach I've considered, to the point of starting to adapt my script into a novella. Midway through the adaptation I realized that the material is far better suited to script form (which I suppose is why I wrote a script, and not a novel, in the first place). But it's a very valid point, and probably an easier approach if not overall then because I do already have my foot in the door. Maybe it's time to revisit that manuscript.

Thanks again all!
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Old 03-10-2014, 09:38 PM   #6
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Default Re: So... What now?

75% hit rate from top managers is incredible. You must have a really solid concept. Given you've written some moderately successful ya novels, I've got to assume you have a decent grasp of story structure and that your script is at least professionally written and constructed. I think you'd be crazy to give up at this point and go back to novels. First off you queried only 15 managers. You should at least do 5x that many before calling it a day. Second, even if you don't have screenwriting down perfectly, a lot of managers will rep you if you have general writing talent and great concepts - and your 75% hit rate tells me your concept must be very good. Don't give up on 12 rejections. I must have had 5x that many before i landed my manager and 10x that many before i landed an agent. it just takes one yes.

And yes while your odds of getting something published are probably higher than getting a script purchased, the payout for selling a script is way higher. i'd stick with it if i were you.

This is a useful site that has an ebook that speaks to exactly this point.
http://www.getmerepped.com/
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:54 AM   #7
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Default Re: So... What now?

1. Write more scripts. Most people who eventually sell a script write at least 7 before they break in. Some write 20 or more. (And most people never sell a script.)

2. Be patient. Expect that it could take you 10 or more years to break in, IF you do. Decide if that's where you want to put your time/energy for the next 10 years.

3. Get pro feedback on your first script. (See "services" thread.) Get this BEFORE sending any more queries.

4. Read scripts and script writing books, join writing groups, etc. I.e., LEARN.

5. Put the script on the Black List and enter the top contests (Nicholl, Austin, Page, Tracking B).

6. Talk to your literary agent about marketing your novels for screenplay adaptations.
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Old 03-11-2014, 06:58 AM   #8
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Default Re: So... What now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by lyndon3 View Post
7

And yes while your odds of getting something published are probably higher than getting a script purchased, the payout for selling a script is way higher. i'd stick with it if i were you.
With self-publishing, your odds of getting published are 100%. With a reasonable amount of self-promotion (and a good book), the odds are also pretty high that you can generate SOME income from a novel.

The odds of generating any income from even a good screenplay are VERY low. And for a first screenplay, the payout is likely to be WGA minimum (about $100K) or a lot less for a non-WGA company.

Overall, IMHO novels are a better bet if your goal is income.

But I'm still writing screenplays because I like to. And I'm even getting paid to write them.
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Last edited by LauriD : 03-11-2014 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 03-11-2014, 09:14 AM   #9
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Default Re: So... What now?

I agree that most books (especially self-published ones) make the writers very little money.

If you make $5-10k selling a book, that's not enough to live on, but it's not nothing.

"According to data from a new survey from Digital Book World and Writer’s Digest, the median income range for self-published authors is under $5,000 and nearly 20% of self-published authors report deriving no income from their writing."

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeremygr...-authors-make/

Again, not much, but not nothing.

Almost all screenplays earn nothing. Certainly, 80% of screenplays don't produce any income.

So I stand by my original opinion that novels are more likely to produce SOME income.

However, I don't think people should be giving up their day jobs to write either novels or screenplays.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:14 AM   #10
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Default Re: So... What now?

Quote:
Originally Posted by LauriD View Post
6. Talk to your literary agent about marketing your novels for screenplay adaptations.
Also, consider asking your literary agent for a referral to whoever handles their books-to-film transactions. Most book agents have co-agent relationships with LA-based film reps.

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