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Top 5 Submissions Mistakes Writers Make

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:

  • Confident
  • Polite
  • 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).

Good Luck!

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8 thoughts on “Top 5 Submissions Mistakes Writers Make”

  1. Is there a reader course in California that you know of? It would be nice to travel abroad for it, but that just upped the price considerably.

    1. Alas I don’t know of any Jo, but watch this space cos we’re hoping to offer my LondonSWF course online soon 😀

  2. Hi:

    I am new to the “Screenwriting World. I am currently learning the craft of screenwriting. I currently have a script in the works but, it needs a lot of help.

    Thank you for reading my message today.

    Ms. Davis

  3. Thanks for your priceless advice, Lucy, I appreciate your help.
    Just a quick tip from my experience – don’t underestimate the quality of content you submit, because site owners always check it for grammar and originality. Of course,they won’t accept uncertain articles. If in doubt, use a plagiarism checker like Unplag and proofread your work twice. Caution is the parent of safety.

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