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How Can I Sell My Screenplay?

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What a question, isn't it? I probably would have a better answer if you asked, How can I win the lottery?

Selling a screenplay is not easy. And the reasons are simple: not only is the vast majority of scripts out there plain bad, the commitment to buy it could potentially cost millions of dollars to the buyer. And although this may be pocket change in Hollywood, no one wants to invest it on a writer without credits or experience.

However, non-professional writers break into show business all the time. How do they do it? They are exceptional writers with remarkable talent, brilliant ideas, and mind-blowing, awesome screenplays. They have spent years upon years learning their craft. The have written and shelved dozens of scripts. They have learned from their mistakes. They have read other scripts. They have been around Hollywood long enough to know that the trend changes before they can finish a script. They have been criticized and improved from there.

What about you? Are you even sure your script is any good? Have you made good use of the three-act structure, character arc, and theme? Have you hired a script consultant for some professional feedback? How many scripts have you written? One of the main things to bear in mind is that you probably won't be able to sell one specific screenplay. Consider yourself lucky if you find a producer that values you as a serious writer. He or she will be open to read screenplays that you have. And the more you have, the more chances you have of someone liking one of them.

Now, if you have gone the distance and written dozes of scripts and received excellent feedback from consultants, then you may be ready. How do you sell it? Usually, you don't. Agents do it for you. How do you get an agent? Three basic ways:

  1. Query letters. This is definitely the least effective way, but one that shouldn't be overlooked entirely. Send query letters to agencies that accept them and pitch your story. Someone may decide to read it.

  2. Networking. Go out there and make some friends. By sharing your life stories and mentioning the several scripts you've written, someone may eventually accept to read one of them.

  3. Hollywood events. By strolling down Sunset Blvd. or attending a gala dinner at the Beverly Hilton, you may run into agents or producers. After a little introduction and some throwaway chitchat, you must segue to your pitch, which should consist of a two-sentence log line to hook your listener.

None of these are fail-safe. But they are the most used approaches. Regardless of the one you use, remember that agents and producers are humans like you and me. Be courteous and respectful.

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