Don’t Even Think About Selling Your Screenplay Until You Do These 7 Things

1So, you’ve finally finished your screenplay!  Congratulations!  This is an exciting time in your career, and you’re probably anxious to get it on the market and take the next step toward realizing your dream.  But don’t make the same mistake I’ve seen too many screenwriters make, which is to market your screenplay before it’s ready. You may only get one chance, so before sending it out on the market, make sure it rocks!

Take some time to follow these tips below to help you get your screenplay ready to market.  Some of these tips are very basic and some are not, so be sure to read all of them to make sure you’ve got the basics covered.

Missing any one of these could get your screenplay dismissed by a Hollywood executive instantly.

1. Use the current proper formatting with no camera directions and no scene numbers.

First impressions can mean everything. If your screenplay is properly formatted, it will show a literary agent or producer you’re a professional, and this will give you far more credibility as a writer. Sometimes screenplays without the proper format won’t even be considered. Formatting correctly is the simple part, so take the time to do it right!

2. Have it proofread for grammatical errors.

Although all of us make human errors, grammatical errors can stand out, and can interfere with the storyline and meaning of your screenplay.   They can also frustrate or distract your reader. Since these errors are easy for a writer to miss in their own work, it is important to have another person proofread for you.  Strong attention to detail will make your screenplay a stronger contender.

3. Get it evaluated by a professional script analyst.

Getting a script analysis is a good way to get an expert’s take on the quality of your work.  It’s an opportunity to find out what improvements or changes are critical before putting it in front of industry professionals who will determine your script’s fate.  When an exec reads it, you have everything on the line at that point – make sure you are giving it your best chance.

4. Get it registered with the WGA or Copyright office.

It is expected that your work will come registered. This is a protection for you and your work should there be any type of dispute over your brilliant idea. Industry professionals will assume you have registered or copyrighted your screenplay.  In fact, it is so expected, that you don’t even have to tell them that it is.  Just be sure to do it.

5. Complete at least three solid re-writes or drafts of the same script improving it each time.

Every time you re-write, you should make you screenplay stronger, more concise, and clearer.  Don’t get over-anxious by doing just one re-write and then getting it out there.

Three solid re-writes is a good number to shoot for, as you will want your screenplay to be the best it can be when you put it out on the market.  Believe it or not, professional writers do many, many more re-writes than non-professionals.  That’s how the pros get to be so good – they re-write…. many times!

6. Be able to pitch your script in two to three sentences and get someone asking to hear more or requesting to read it.

This is a fast-paced business and you will need to express the gist of your screenplay to busy professionals who may have limited time.  You should be crystal clear about your storyline and then be able to articulate it briefly and succinctly.

By shooting for peaking someone’s interest in two or three sentences, it will help you focus on the heart of your story and the main idea.

7.  Make sure your script is 120 pages or less without cheating margins.

This is a no-brainer that I’m not even going to elaborate on.  Cut it down to 120 or less.  Period.

Although you are excited to get your screenplay onto the market, take the time to follow these 7 fairly straight-forward steps.  You and your screenplay will look more professional, making marketing easier. You want to have a desirable product to present.  So don’t short-change yourself and all the hard work you’ve done so far. Take the extra time and make your screenplay as close to perfect as it can be!