Used to be that you’d need help promoting your own material. Agents, managers, editors, publicists, etc.
Not as much anymore.
With the worldwide reach of the Internet, a creative individual can present themselves and their endeavors to a global audience, via a website or blog, ads, tweets, and so on.
Having seen more and more of my writing associates taking the initiative and becoming their own promotions department, I was curious to find out more about HOW THEY DID IT and the results.
Some of the responses are presented here, with the rest coming up in future posts. (And if you’ve done something similar for yourself, feel free to drop us a line to be included).
In today’s spotlight:
Mark Gunnion (MG)
Boomer Murrhee (BM)
Diana T. Black (DTB)
Craig Griffiths (CG)
David Hal Chester (DHC)
What projects are you promoting?
MG – I’m pretty much promoting my last four screenplays for spec sales, and myself as a writer for assignments and re-writes.
BM – A one-hour TV Thriller/Drama titled HELLBOUND HEROES.
DTB – I have three completed features, and one of my teleplays is being rewritten as a feature.
CG – at the moment “The Hostage”
DHC – I’m actively promotiong my two female-driven dramas, TILLIE and BIG SISTER. TILLIE is an adaption of a long-forgotten American book, and BIG SISTER is based on a tragic family event. Both screenplays have placed multiple times as finalists, and feedback has been consistently good. I’m also promoting a Netflix-style comedy PRINCESS. IN REVERSE. It’s based on my co-writer’s book, published by Simon & Schuster, about her unique experiences as a young American wife in Nagoya, Japan in the 1990s.
Do you have a website for your material, or do you post each project on an individual basis?
MG – I use a variety of posting sites to post the full scripts and loglines, and for sharing – MovieBytes, FilmFreeway, InkTip, Coverfly. And I have my own “Screenwriting Services” page, 500Haiku.com, to post my awards, the posters my wife has made for my scripts, a bio, photo, and my log-lines. I’ve also just joined a new site for writers to swap reads and reviews, attached to Twitter, called SpecScriptShoutOut.com, where you can post similar info. I maintain profile pages and loglines at most of those, to varying degrees, when I can get around to updating them. I also have a LinkedIn page that is split between my day-job (naming new products and companies) with my screenwriting services and news. I also host a Screenwriter’s group on Facebook where I mostly learn from people with more experience, and where I try to make a welcoming place for writers to swap war stories and strategies.
BM – I post each project individually. However, I may consider a website in the future.
DTB – I have a website but it’s still under construction and I need to do a rethink, because it’s getting spammed via the ‘Contact Me’ page… not sure what to do about that. As I’m also a professional actor, I may have to split the current website and have two … warming up to that idea.
CG – www.griffithscreative.com.au is my site. I don’t do social media. I used to focus on social media. However, that is a stream. A stream needs maintenance. My website is a resource. I intend to start a twitter and instagram for each film. For a few months leading up to release.
DHC – I have a website dedicated to not only my original screenplays, but also my short films and produced screenplays that I was commissioned to write. https://www.davidchester.com/
How do you put your promotions together?
MG – Any time I have anything plausible to announce – Finishing a first draft, or advancement in a contest, or a new poster, or something in the news that makes reference to something in one of my scripts – I’ll do a LinkedIn posting, with some kind of exciting, eye-catching picture (since LinkedIn is visually so boring). When I have a good result at a contest, I’ll often do an email blast to prodcos and managers with the win in the Subject line. I am beginning to work the #Writers and #Screenwriters angles on Twitter, and have made a few interesting connections there.
BM – Once I complete a project and have gotten feedback from peers or coverage I will focus on a succinct logline, query letter and a one-page synopsis. For a TV project I put together a series bible. I begin by sending queries to contacts in my network who may be interested in this type of project. I then expand my network and research IMDb-Pro for producers and show runners. I entered several TV Pilot contests. I am currently planning on another trip to LA/Burbank for face-to-face pitches.
DTB – I have to go back and complete/review the marketing modules for ScreenwritingU’s MSC and Binge-worthy TV Bootcamp…and get marketing, but until I have this body of work ‘licked into shape’, I see little point. I’ve heard that creating buzz regarding a specific project via Instagram/project is helpful. I’m yet to explore that option.
CG – I focus on developing my personal brand. This will work across all projects.
DHC – I create mock film posters for my projects, which includes mentions of placements in contests, and create a page for them on Facebook. I also promote them via Twitter and sometimes on Instagram. I also create a 2-page written pitch, a 1-page written pitch, and 1-paragraph pitches, which are made specifically for including in query letters. I also connect with screenwriters on Twitter and writing groups on Facebook and do subtle promotion on those sites.
How have the results been from your doing this?
MG – Nada. Well, that’s an exaggeration. I have a response rate to my cold queries around 1-2 percent, not atypical for cold-calling type emails, and similar to what I get from my day-job promotion. Only difference, that approach in my day-job has generated a living wage for over 20 years! While after seven feature specs, I’ve only had a couple of no-pay options, and no sales. I have some interactions with a couple of movie-makers via LinkedIn, and I assiduously work on expanding my contact list there.
BM – I’ve had over 20 script requests. However, this has not resulted in an option agreement at the time of this writing.
DTB – I know when I do get around to marketing, it must be a concerted, documented effort and with timely, professional follow-up.
CG – I used to have thousands of twitter follows. I just stopped. I am releasing a podcast on writing which is also a great channel and less cluttered than other channels.
DHC – Perhaps the best thing to be said is that I’ve connected with fellow writers, some of whom have proved to be incredible mentors for pitching and some whom give notes that are better than anything I’ve received in competitions. I have not received any responses to queries, but I will continue to send them out. I personalize them, and that takes a lot of time.
Do any formats seem to work better than others?
MG – None of them have had much impact, as far as I can tell. I still feel like one voice in a stadium full of writers, all screaming for the attention of someone on the playing field – but pretty much just contributing to the general roar.
BM – I’m looking to personal pitches. I will know more after I’ve pitched in person.
DTB – My greatest success (potentially) has been through LinkedIn via industry connections.
CG – I focus on helping people. I avoid self promotion. People will want to help you as a source of thanks.
DHC – Posting quick blurbs on Twitter and connecting with certain other writers and following specific hashtags puts me on people’s radar and I get the sense that when the time is right, it could be productive.
What’s the link for people to find out more about you and your projects?
MG – Please check out my Screenwriting Services website at www.500Haiku.com, or my LinkedIn page at /markgunnion, and my Twitter feed at @Gunnion – and you can search for my name and see my pages on InkTip, Coverfly, MovieBytes, and probably a few others I’ve forgotten about already (Hi, Stage 32!).