Today is all about query letters.
I read about other writers who’ve gotten reads, representation, options and even production. There must have been something quite special about those letters (and scripts) to get those machines in motion.
There are also a select number of writers who’ve never had to use a query letter. Bully for them, I say. But I’ve never fallen into that category, so I’m firmly planted in the “those who send” group, which is still fine.
Taking a look at the somewhat limited results of my past efforts and reading about others’ experience makes me wonder in a “big picture” way about the nature and concept of the query letters themselves.
Are they worth the effort?
Naturally, if something happens as a result, of course they are. But even that appears to be a needle-in-a-haystack kind of scenario.
(Incidentally, any tales of query success are more than welcome in the comments section.)
There are so many factors to take into account, including but not limited to:
-who you’re sending to
-what kind of material they want
-they’re intrigued enough to want to read the script
-your script is a good match (or at least close enough) to what they want
-they think your writing’s strong enough
-they think they can make something happen with your script
Several years ago, an agent who’d struck out on their own (along with a sole assistant) told me that their office received approximately 75-100 queries a week. From around the world. Some were good, most were awful. A significant part of each morning was spent sorting through them. As you’d imagine, finding one, possibly two, that clicked seemed to be the norm.
Remember, this was a two-person operation. If they were getting that many, imagine how many the mega-agencies were getting, and still are. Possibly in the thousands.
The chances of success are minuscule, and grow smaller with each progressive step. Those not exactly in the know are more likely to think they’re the exception, but those of us who’ve been down this road before know better.
This isn’t to say that queries never work, but the odds definitely appear to be not in our favor. Luck and timing seem to also play significant parts. Maybe the person you’ve sent to just happens to be looking for a script exactly like yours. I’ve heard it does happen; just not very often.
But the dedicated, persistent and determined among us, including yours truly, will keep at it.
Even though my success rate hasn’t been the best, I’ll continue to do the research, find potential recipients, craft what I believe is a solid query, and send it out.
All that’s left is to wait, hope for the best, and keep busy working on other scripts, each of which will probably also have its own respective query letter get sent out sometime in the near future.
2 thoughts on “Quit them or queue them up?”
Cold queries? Buy a lottery ticket. Your odds are better and the payoff is higher.
Warm queries? – You’ve looked them up. They do this sort of thing. They’ve said their open to submissions. Your chances are better than warm spit.
Hot queries? – Things like the TIP SHEET – they’ve sent out a request for queries. “We’re looking for x type of script…Please send us a query.” – Now you’re in competition. Maybe as good as fifty fifty for a read. Especially if you hit all their needs. If you’re good – even higher.
INSIDER QUERY. – “I know some people. Let me hand them your script I can get it to so and so – ” Is this really a query? Maybe – maybe technically not – but it’s a real ticket in.
Just my take.
Ask someone who appeared in the most James Bond movies. They almost never know the correct answer. It’s Llewelyn. Desmond Llewelyn.