How to Sell a Screenplay…Like Realistically
I guess at one time or another, we’ve all had a screenplay that we thought had the potential to become a blockbuster movie. But unless you know how to sell a screenplay, whether your creation is good or not, it’s never going to get picked up.
Working on the assumption that you have no experience of how to sell a screenplay, I will offer you a few pearls of wisdom.
Unless you really get lucky, (and let’s face it, most of us don’t), you won’t get anywhere by just sending copies of your screenplays out to any old Tom, Dick, or Harry, unannounced. The usual filing place for unsolicited post is straight into the bin. The first thing you must learn if you want to know how to sell a screenplay, is find out whom to send it to. Don’t just send it in to an agent, get a name. Find out who does the reading and target that person. But bear in mind that the odds are that they get inundated with lots screenplays out of the blue, so even if you address it to a name, it’ll still probably go straight into that same old bin.
The best way to ensure that that your screenplay doesn’t end up in that ever present bin is to have it delivered by a person, by hand. By doing it this way you are bringing some sort of personal contact into the equation. It shows that you care about your work and that you’re not just shipping it out to anyone and everyone, even if in reality you actually are.
Knowing how to sell a screenplay increases your chance of actually making that all important sale.
Because most reading houses, directors, producers etc get loads of unsolicited scripts to read, many will only accept screenplays through an agent. If they know the agent, they tend to trust that whatever they are being sent is a least worth a read. So you might just have to bite the bullet, and get yourself one, an agent that is!
The next hot tip as to how to sell a screenplay is to include a logline. A logline is no more that a very brief précis of what the plot is all about. For anyone who reads hundreds of screenplays there’s nothing worse than having to trawl through lots of pages before you can get a handle on what the screenplay is all about. You’ll find that a lot of agents and producers will actually be swayed by a good quality logline, and it doesn’t take long to write, so make sure you include one.
Knowing how to sell a screenplay increases your chance of actually making that all important sale. It just means that you are making sure that everything an agent or producer needs to see, he/she will see. Don’t give them any reason to pass it over, because if you do, they surely will. So as well as a good brief logline, you need to go that one step further and provide a little synopsis of your work. If your logline does its job properly, it will entice the reader to go to the next stage, and that is to read the synopsis; a concise summary (including a roll call of the characters), of your screenplay, longer than the logline but no longer than say an A4 page.
Get the basics right. The simplest way of how to sell a screenplay that has merit, is to make sure its error free. It must be in the correct format, (if necessary use screenplay software), there should be no spelling mistakes (use spell-check), and last but not least, make sure your presentation isn’t loud or garish. There’s nothing more off-putting than picking something up that looks like it’s just been attacked by the dog or is so brightly colored that it hurts to look at it. Plain, simple and business-like. Let the content draw people’s attention.