Query Via Email
Email is a much abused and misunderstood tool when it comes to querying. Yet sending query emails is your first line of attack and is a great way of getting your writing solicited.
Sadly, most query emails however are badly worded, weird and/or generally needy. This makes it very easy for agents, producers and their assistants to delete or send that “no unsolicited material” link back to writers. Supersadface.
But as we know, it’s perfectly possible to get your screenplay solicited, EVEN IF that company’s official line is “no unsolicited material”! So how do we do that??
Model Query Email
Here are the steps for querying via email, plus a model email for you …
1) Always send it to someone specific
First off: NAME of person (never send to “info” etc. Find out WHO the assistant is. Make enquiries or even better, call the company up you want to query on the telephone and ASK!)
2) Do not leave the subject line blank
Next, ensure you have a SUBJECT LINE. Avoid ‘enquiry’ or ‘query’ as it frequently goes to spam; other times, particular places will have specific subject lines they want you to use. Just don’t leave it blank. You can’t go wrong with your novel or screenplay’s title and your name.
3) Be concise AF!
And now for the message itself: keep it short and to the point. Here’s a model email for you …
Dear (NAME – never Sir/Madam),
My name is (INSERT YOUR OWN NAME) and I am a screenwriter (with THESE CREDITS – if applicable … If not, INSERT YOUR WEBSITE URL to the “ABOUT ME” section – this bit is optional though, natch.).
I was wondering if you would be interested in reading the One Page Pitch of my screenplay (INSERT TITLE), which is a (GENRE/ FORMAT – Feature? Returning Drama Series? Sitcom? etc) and is about (INSERT LOGLINE).
Many thanks and I look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.
Links to Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/wherever
You don’t *have* to write it like that, but I’ve had some good results with the above.
So, You’ve Got A Response
Let’s figure the above gets you a result … An agent, publisher or producer you’ve contacted wants to read your One Page Pitch. Perhaps s/he has solicited the screenplay or novel manuscript too. Congratulations!
But here’s where so many writers go wrong, usually for one of these three reasons …
i) They send the wrong stuff, too quickly
I can’t tell you how many times I have requested things like one pagers, the first ten pages or chapters or whole scripts for contests etc … then in their excitement, trigger-happy writers send me the WRONG stuff.
Take a moment here. Absorb emails that ask for stuff, check your attaching the right things, THEN send it. One writer sent me a run of SEVEN emails for one particular scheme, each more apologetic and hysterical than the last. BOTH of us ended up with a minor nervous breakdown.
ii) They go OTT on their script’s life story
A lot of writers feel validated when their stuff is solicited – and why not? It means someone likes the sound of their work, which feels great.
But at this stage, share it with your friends and family, NOT the people soliciting your work. They’ve asked for your screenplay or manuscript, not its whole history of development.
Yet I’ve had writers regale me for PAGES about …
- How the script started out (such as on their screenwriting MA)
- How it took four thousand wrong turns (for whatever story or life reason) and
- HOW SURE the writer now is that this new draft is THE RIGHT ONE
Don’t do this. Not because nobody cares but because you don’t want to accidentally ‘talk down’ your writing. You would not believe how many writers have done this talking to B2W!
iii) They SQUEEE all over the next email
After being markedly restrained in their approach in the first instance, writers figure they can let it all hang out in the next communication and be uber-pally and exuberant.
This is like going from 0-60 in 2 seconds and feels decidedly odd, especially when writers then make all kinds of confessions!
I’ve had writers tell me they’re SO RELIEVED to get through the next round because their DOG JUST DIED and life’s been SO SHIT LATELY and getting through on this contest MEANS LIFE IS WORTH LIVING and they’re NOT EVEN CLOSE TO JOKING. (And nor am I, bizarrely!).
Reply With This Email, Instead!
So rather than stick your foot right in it, how about something like …
Many thanks for soliciting my One Page Pitch/screenplay/novel (TITLE), which I attach to this message for your perusal.
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Links to Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/wherever
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