Screenwriters often hear “You need to get an agent to sell your screenplay. That’s the only way it will happen.” And because they hear that, they often decide it’s time to get a literary agent to represent their work. The problem is, it’s nearly impossible to get an agent if you haven’t already made some mark on Hollywood with your work. In reality, it is highly unlikely you will get a literary agent interested in you if you are a newbie.
However, you can still target Literary Managers and Producers. And of those, which should you target first? This article addresses all three types of possible connections and which ones to target in what situation. Who you should market your screenplay to (whether it’s Query Letters or Email Query Blasts) first out of producers, literary agents, and literary managers is different based on where you are in your screenwriting career.
The following criteria gives you guidelines on which group to market to first. Although each writer’s situation varies some, the following strategies will be appropriate for 99% of all screenwriters.
Which category to you fit into?
Are you a “Newbie” Screenwriter?
You are a Newbie Screenwriter if you meet any of the following criteria:
1. You have only one screenplay completed that is ready to market.
2. You have less than two Target Industry Contacts who will read your next script and you have never sold or optioned any scripts.
3. You have only an idea, a concept, an outline or anything less that a completed script. If you have only one completed script. Go back to #1. You are still in this category.
The only exception is if you have, in fact, sold a script for “real” money, that could bump you into the next category on its own — as long as you have another project to market.
If you fit any of the criteria numbered above, then you should target producers first because they can just look at your script versus taking you on for representation in your career, so they are committing to less that a full-on relationship with you.
Agents and managers want to represent a writer who has at least two scripts ready to market, because if one of the scripts is well-received, they could potentially ride the momentum and get another one out there quickly. If there is not a second script, the momentum they worked to build for the first one is wasted.
Are you a “Beyond Newbie” Screenwriter?
You are a Beyond Newbie screenwriter if:
1. You have at least two completed screenplays which are polished and ready to go.
2. You have marketed at least one of your scripts and gotten them read by at least 5 producers, agents, or managers. Your feet are definitely wet but your ears are not.
3. You have received very clearly positive feedback from at least two of the producers, agents, or managers who have read your material.
4. You know that at least two of those people would read another script from you.
If this is the case, then approaching a manager is appropriate if you choose. Your chances are still better with producers, but managers are a possibility also since you have built some leverage and momentum and your work is on the right track.
You could also approach literary agents if you like, but you will most likely need more leverage to get their attention.
Are you “On the Verge of Being a Professional” Screenwriter?
You may be ‘”On the Verge of Being a Professional Screenwriter” if:
1. You have two or more screenplays ready to go to market.
2. You have had a script optioned or sold and been paid a real amount that is not just a token option price.
3. You have had a script produced that got theatrical distribution.
4. You have at least 5 to 10 target industry contacts who would read your next script because they know and like your work.
If you are “On the Verge,” then targeting Literary Agents is a definitely option. You could also target Literary Managers. Your marketing strategy should also incorporate connecting with your existing Target Industry Contacts.
A Final Special Exception
The rumors remain true… Hollywood loves to find young prospective stars. If you are a young writer (let’s say 25 or younger), and you have managed to get some buzz around your screenplays for some reason or other, Hollywood may be willing to give you a chance at a bit agency because you are young enough that they have plenty of time to build your career and monetize your talents. This is not my rule, it’s the unspoken understanding. It’s not even a rule… it’s just how it is. In other words, if you’re under 25, this business is still challenging, but you may be able to have age work in your favor. I’ll leave it at that.
The Professional Screenwriter
Of course, if you are already a Professional Screenwriter, then it’s a good idea to approach Literary Agents since you need as much clout to promote you as possible. However…. even better is to strategize with Smart Girls on your specific situation to see how to take maximum advantage of the professional work that you have done.
If you are ready to market your screenplay, then check out the Smart Girls Script Marketing services. If you would like to discuss what would be the best approach for you, then please take a look at the services on our website, and then call us directly at (818) 907-6511. If you want us to explain it directly to you, then you can just call us directly also.
We hope this helps!