The (much) tougher part

ali hit
99% of the time, you’re George Foreman

In this week’s previous post, I wrote about the necessity of how a writer needs to enjoy the actual writing part of being a writer.

A few colleagues piped in, saying while that part of it holds true, they also find the business aspect (i.e. the marketing of YOU) to be significantly harder and much more challenging. Taking it one step further, lack of progress on that front adds to their frustration.

I can’t argue with any of that. I’ve experienced it firsthand many times.

Friend of the blog Phil Hardy had this to say:

“…this should resonate with most of us that are doing the same thing as you are. However, one of the keys in trying to be a successful writer is spending a fair amount of time crafting query letters, answering ads or attempting to make contact with industry people anyway you can. Many writers fall flat in this area. One should definitely spend as much time as they can trying to promote and sell their work, as well as taking joy in the act of writing it.”

Simply put, marketing and promoting oneself is a necessary evil that a writer has to be willing to undergo and endure as many times as it takes if they want to succeed. Sucks, but it’s the truth.

After working on a couple of scripts and building up my arsenal of materal, I’ve decided to take the plunge again.

I’ve put together what I consider to be a pretty effective new draft of the query letter. Gone through the list of managers, agents and production companies, researching who might a good match for each script.

A few queries have been sent, so the waiting and hoping for a positive response begins yet again. All the while, working on more scripts. It’s all I can do.

My efforts to improve my networking skills have also paid off. Every once in a while, a colleague will send me a listing that seems tailor-made for one of my scripts. Even though none of them have worked out, it’s made me aware of more opportunities than I would have been able to find on my own.

We all know this is not an easy path. It’s extremely tough and really puts your endurance to the test. The question you have to continually ask yourself is “Am I willing to keep working at this until I get the results I want, no matter how long it takes, how frustrated I get, or how impossible it seems?”

I can only speak for myself.

Yep.

-You might find these older posts somewhat relevant and worth a read.

The me businsess – a 24/7 operation

A support staff of one

The me business – a 24/7 operation

 

The friendliest staff in town!
We’ve got the friendliest staff in town!

What may have been my biggest mistake with my old manager was not doing enough.

I’d toil away on the new script, and send him an occasional email asking if there had been any responses to the first one. They were minimal, which is putting the best positive spin on it.

Why weren’t we getting the results we’d expected? Mostly, I blame myself.

Looking back, I realize now that it was me who wasn’t being the more proactive one. He was a busy guy with other clients to handle. Instead of handing off the material with the instruction of “I’ve got a script to write. You do what you have to,” I should have been making his job easier by doing the research, finding the names and providing the contact info so all he had to was send off an email.

Lesson learned. Behavior modified. Jump to the present.

Now being representation-free, I’ve no choice but to be the proactive one. Nobody’s coming to me, so I’m exploring numerous avenues to get to them.

-query letters. A few managers have requested the script, with more being targeted.

-researching producers and production companies who’ve made films similar to my scripts

-expanding my network and connecting with writers on community sites, which includes face-to-face meetings with those in the immediate vicinity when applicable

-publicizing my scripts and their loglines on said sites and public forums, which has resulted in not only more connections, but offers to read the scripts. Feedback is always invaluable, and somebody’s status in the industry can change overnight, so any connection is a potential good one.

My former m.o. was to devote as much time as possible to writing, rewriting and polishing. But for now, that’s just not an option anymore.

Time for a little diversification.

It’s just as important now to set aside some time each day to find some potential recipients for my material. Even if it’s only 20-30 minutes of researching names on IMDBPro, that’s still a few small steps in the right direction.

Even if something may feel like the longest of shots, I remind myself I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose, and the worst that can happen is somebody says no.  If that happens, I shrug it off, move on to the next name and try again.

It must be true. My business card says so.

So as to remove any further doubt
So as to remove any further doubt

I got a very interesting email the other day, with the subject of “Want to get your script into shape?”.

How could I resist such a persuasive sales pitch?

What followed was a lengthy diatribe about what an almost insurmountable task it was to write not just a good script, but a great one with the potential to open all kinds of doors and really get my career going.

If I wanted any of that to happen, then I should seriously consider the services of a script consultant.  Specifically, this person.

It was a foregone conclusion I wasn’t interested, but I was intrigued to know more about them. Exactly who is this, and why should I invest the time and money to work with them? So I clicked on the link to their website.

Let’s just say it was not encouraging.

A very early-2000s look to the whole thing. Generic descriptions of what a script consultant is, how they can help me and lots of pie-in-the-sky descriptions of what could possibly happen with my script. No details about cost. Totally anonymous testimonials (which didn’t even sound true to begin with).

Did I mention this email showed up in my junk mail folder?

Just to seal the deal, I looked them up on IMDB Pro. Exactly. Nothing.

We all know this is an incredibly tough business to break into, and take all the help we can get.  Using professional feedback can really benefit your work and help develop your skills.  The tough part is figuring out who actually is a professional and gives you your money’s worth.

Utilize the tools at your disposal and do your homework. Ask questions of your peers via emails or Twitter. Check the numerous blogs and forums. There’s no reason you can’t find the information you need. And don’t be afraid to price-check and comparison shop. This is your time and money we’re talking about.

There will always be people who claim to be experts or professionals with all the answers, looking to take advantage of your desperation to succeed and ready to take your money.

Fortunately, you can go into this prepared and not let them.

Telling & selling your story

Would YOU buy a script from this guy?

While I wait for feedback on the rewrite from friends and colleagues, I’m keeping my creative muscles in shape by jumping right in to the ongoing development of the next script.

I was working on this before I started the rewrite, so a lot of the material is in place, but it still needs a lot of work.  While some may look at this situation as a negative, I don’t. I’m actually looking forward to it.

Is it typical for a writer to be excited about a project?  That’s how I am about this one. I love the subject, the story, the characters, and most of all – the possibilities of what I can do with it.  When I tell people about it, my excitement comes across both physically and verbally.

Hypothetical situation time! For reasons far beyond any rational explanation, you find yourself before a major producer. His/her involvement in a project is an automatic greenlight.  And now you have the chance to tell them about your script.  How would you do it?

It’s not just about what you say, but how you say it. Maybe you’ve written the next HANGOVER. Would you describe it in a dull monotone?  A thrilling edge-of-your-seat adventure?  Do you make the person feel like they’re right there in the middle of it, practically gasping to catch their breath? Your words have that ability. You just need to know how to do it.  Practice if you have to.

Writing scripts goes beyond being a good writer. You also need to be a good salesperson. If you’re not excited about your script, why would somebody else be?