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To Market - To Market Without Any Agent

How to market your own works like the pros.

Just what is it that "they" (agents and managers) have that we don't? Why are they more successful in getting reads by the pros than us, the writers? It's frustrating, humiliating and all a bunch of "hog-wash." Or is it?

I think we can all agree that there is nothing more frustrating, as a buyer, than going to…let's say a farmer's market to purchase some corn. While every vendor approaches us pushing tomatoes, the finest of fertilizers or even that prize pig, it's not what we came for. "Yes, sir, it's a real pretty pig, but I came here to buy corn." We may ogle over the pig. We may even pet it, but as fine as it may be, and for whatever reason we may have, we only want CORN!

In the writers' market, we have to focus on the fact that the producer is the buyer, armed with a budget and other specifics. No matter how pretty our product, if it's not what they 'need,' we, the vendors, will not make that sale.

Agents have become the 'reliable' vendors in this market for a few reasons: They have already done the screening for high-quality works and they don't have a personal stake in the contents. An agent will only answer a producer's call for scripts if they have what the producer wants in the first place. They've learned over time that anything else is a waste of just that. Writers could also benefit from this knowledge.

More often than not, a serious producer already has stipulations on what he/she needs in a script; whether it's due to funding is already in place for a film in Chicago or Big Gun Sam only wants to finance a Sci-Fi. If a producer puts out a call for scripts: "Looking for a sci-fi based in Chicago," don't waste their time or yours responding with "My Cute Little Pig - a drama based in Dallas."

We writers can be notorious for pushing our works, no matter what a pro asks for, with the desperate delusion that we'll change their minds once they see how talented we are. Agents have learned that this is almost never the case.

To successfully market your works without an agent, one would be wise to "think like an agent." Try a "What do YOU need?" approach as opposed to "This is what I have and I NEED you to buy it." If you call and pitch a script and they say, "not what I'm looking for," try asking, "What are you looking for?" Tell them perhaps you don't have it, but maybe you have a colleague who may have something to fit their criteria. Remind them that you're offering THEM a service instead of vise-versa…how refreshing.

Be up-front with your product. This can easily be done by adding the basics in a good, solid query letter, an "all in one" that includes a three-paragraph synopsis with an intro and ending. You can pack it with the most important specifics, which, in most cases, is what the pros really need to know, as their 'shopping' has limitations and restrictions. Lay it all on the line as briefly as possible with no holds barred. Give them the basics, which are: your logline, brief synopsis, genre, page count and location/s:

1st paragraph- (logline with specifics)
In my screenplay, NO HOLDS BARRED, (drama-105 pgs) Your logline.

2nd-3rd and 4th paragraph--summarize the story (break it down to 1st -2nd and 3rd acts)

5th paragraph-(bio with specifics)
Smart Writer John's latest screenplay, NO HOLDS BARRED, (based in Vancouver and Hollywood) has recently...

Whether you cold call or query, you, the vendor, must be realistic about your product's specifics as well as their search criteria. Show them what you have, but do so honestly.



Written by: Patte Miller
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