1) Not reading the submissions guidelines
Seriously, always read the submissions guidelines and/or the FAQs. What’s more, every single time I head up a writing competition or scheme, I get sent the wrong documents by overeager writers … Or worse, I get blank ones!
Look, I get it. Everyone makes mistakes, plus sometimes technology is responsible for not delivering attachments, but it’s still very easy to avoid these clangers.
2) Sending to the wrong person/ place
Don’t send a comedy script to a horror filmmaker; don’t send a heartfelt drama piece to an agent or publisher that specialises in science fiction. Or vice versa. Obvious stuff again, yes, but happens all the time. DO YOUR RESEARCH. That’s just basic. MORE: 29 Ways To Find An Agent, plus BFLA’s Carole Blake’s 29 Ways NOT To Submit To An Agent
3) Bad cover letter / email
Nothing scream “amateur” more than a bad cover letter or email. “Bad” can mean pretty much any number of things … So concentrate on these 3 things instead:
- To the point
For more on these, check out How To Write A Cover Letter.
4) No One Page Pitch And/Or Title Page
I know, I know – writing one pagers is a slog and seems pointless. Who the hell reads them, anyway?? Trust me, readers do. Okay, they probably skim them, but a good one pager is still a GREAT way of selling your idea “off the page” BEFORE they open the screenplay or novel. If your one pager is GOOD, the reader is more likely to approach your work with OPTIMISM. You can’t buy that! Here’s a great infographic on How To Write One Pagers breaking it all down.
Secondly, ALWAYS include a title page! The title page NEVER contributes to the wordcount. And unless the submissions guidelines tell you NOT to, always put your contact details on the title page. This includes your name and EMAIL ADDRESS. MORE: 10 Ways To Make A Good Impression As A Writer
5) Not naming files!
Are you naming files “screenplay.doc”, “shortstory.pdf” or “one page pitch.docx”?? NEVER, EVER DO THIS.
It’s very simple … Name files with the TITLE of the work, plus your OWN NAME (unless the submissions guidelines tell you not to).