Previously, I wrote about writing a novel and what you do with it when it’s done. Well, I do write a lot but more screenplays, teleplays, etc – I’ve only got one novel under my belt at this moment in time. I have been grilled and asked religiously “What the hell do I do to get this out there?” I could tell you all day what not to do or what to do – but ultimately you have to do what you feel is right. Not only because you need to feel comfortable in how you sell something/pitch it – but if you have a negative response, I might get some blame. SO – I will simply write down what I do but I will warn they are not in any definitive order.
1 – Query Letters
Look, we all hate them but it is something you have to deal with. Consider it a necessary evil. You can Google to your heart’s content and there will be millions of ways to write one. The fact is – everyone has a way to write them. Maybe some are wrong, maybe they aren’t. In the end, I have and continue to have people look over my query letters to see if they make sense. Now, that doesn’t mean have your friend read it and go “Yea, looks good.” I have my mother who was an English teacher look it over to ensure grammar is correct and my points are not tangential. I have professionals in the field that I know look it over to ensure it works. Finally, I have HIRED professionals to look it over. I have NEVER written a good query letter on the first draft. That isn’t for lack of trying. Just like any good project – there is always an ability to make it better.
2 – Pilot Bible / Pitch Bible
Whatever you want to call it, if you have a television series you want to get out there – you need one of these. They are NOT easy to write in the slightest. My business associate, Nicole Stiegelbauer, and I worked on developing a television series entitled Savage Jungle. Now, this is a project we started from scratch with. We decided on character names, developed them, scribbled ideas about the first season and where we wanted to see it head. In the Pilot Bible, we had to break it down even further. You have to go into depth about the series in a synopsis, give a breakdown for every character in the first season, give a synopsis for every episode you feel season one should have. This could mean a small paragraph synopsis for 24 episodes or a shorter season of 13 or 14. This is where you need to know your demographic, your genre and who you are trying to pitch to. Personally, I do enjoy Virtual Pitchfest to help with getting things out there but also getting quality feedback.
3 – Writing
Yes, this is the easiest and frankly the most understood aspect of this whole process. If you don’t write it – you have nothing really to pitch. Unless you just want to sell off your idea and move on. That’s good too, but I love to write so that doesn’t work for me. You might be someone who can write amazing work within a week. I am not one of them. I write quickly, but there are plenty or rewrites, grammar checks and more. In my opinion, a script is never truly finished – it is always a rough draft. You never know what technology changing, real-life experiences, filming or what not can change your story. That is the hardest part about writing for me, the willingness to change my hard work around to fit something new or add some new thoughts. We writers are a bit protective of our creative material – you don’t have to be published, famous or rich to feel that. You just have to be human.
4 – Festivals
There are so many places that you can submit your teleplay, novel, screenplay – whatever to and see where it goes. I have personally submitted so many scripts it makes my head spin. I also ALWAYS pay for them to give me some feedback. What is the point of getting the rejection if you don’t know WHY you got the rejection? This way you can figure out if there is something you missed. Remember, you are so close to the project – you have researched, slaved over various edits – you need a fresh set of eyes to see what the heck you are looking at.
I’m going to be pushing the steps I am taking and the places I am using to get my teleplay Savage Jungle out there. I am in the process of doing it all as I am blogging… so I can give you my experiences as we move along.