Weekly Advice for Writers

How to Get a Job as a Script Reader

Okay, so you want to move to LA (or New York) and start a career as a screenwriter? Great! So you’re gonna come to town, leave your Great American Screenplay at Paramount reception, then go home to wait for the life-changing call? If only it were that easy. That cliché thing they tell you in every movie about Hollywood is painfully true: it’s hard. You’ve got to go out and network, reach out to hundreds of literary agents, write every day, and probably get a side job to pay the ridiculous LA rent. A lot of screenwriters take a part-time gig at Starbucks or drive an Uber to keep the Netflix-bills at bay while they hustle, but that may not be the best option to get your foot in the door. A job as a script reader (also look for “script analyst” or any job with “script coverage” in the description) may be the best way to get your Hollywood career on it’s feet. So today we’re breaking down why you want a job doing script coverage and how you can go about getting one.

Let’s start with the basics.

Why you want a job as a script reader

Nobody gets rich reading scripts. At least not when their title is “script reader”. According to Glassdoor, the average hourly late for script-reading is $17. That may sound amazing, but consider this: you’re probably not working very many hours. It takes 4 to 5 hours to read and analyze a feature script, and less for a TV pilot. Considering you’ll often only read a handful a week, these jobs won’t exactly pay for your house in Malibu.

Am I telling you this to discourage you? Not at all. Because while you probably won’t get rich reading scripts, it’s still an excellent starter job. Here’s why.

  • You’ll read a lot of scripts – This probably seems a bit obvious. And it is. But reading scripts is the best way to get good at writing them. You could, of course, go on a site like Script Slug and read famous movies. But there are two issues with this. (1), nobody’s paying you to do it, and (2), reading a bad script is infinitely more helpful than reading a great one.
  • You’ll really analyze scripts – Reading a script is one thing. But if you’re just reading to read, it’s easy to zone out and pay little to no attention to what’s actually going on in the story. When you read scripts for a studio or production company, you have to develop real opinions about them. And you get feedback for your opinions. In a way, it’s like film school, but a film school where entertainment executives actually pay you AND give you free writing advice.
  • You’ll make a lot of connections – One thing you don’t get from a job at Starbucks is connections. Sure, it’s likely that some (if not all) of your coworkers will also be in the entertainment business, but they’ll be hustling just like you. If you work as a script reader, you’ll be making connections with the very people you’ll eventually be pitching projects to.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Does a job as an assistant at one of these companies provide you the same benefits? Yes and no. Unlike assistants, script readers are paid to show their bosses their writing.

What is coverage?

As you go about applying for script reader jobs, you’ll likely come across the following terms: script coverage and script analysis. So what do they mean? It’s actually not all that complicated. Coverage and analysis are the same thing, they both refer to the second part of a script reader job. Once you’ve finished a script, you have to condense the plot and characters into a few short paragraphs and add your own thoughts to the mix, finishing off with an overall assessment of the work.

We have a section below that details how to go about writing coverage.

What to do before you apply

So you’ve decided to go for a job as a script reader (Yay!). But you don’t know what to do next. Hollywood isn’t like most other industries, it’s not as simple as putting together a killer resume and letting Indeed do the rest. There’s a lot you have to do before you actually send out any queries. Here’s a quick checklist.

  • Read. A lot. Of Scripts. – Yeah, this one may seem obvious. But lots of aspiring writers don’t read scripts. This isn’t going to bode well for them when they’re going for a script reader job. Because other applicants will be reading lots of scripts. In 2021, it’s ridiculously easy to find scripts to read. My favorite place is the aforementioned Script Slug, but there’s also IMSDb (Internet Movie Script Database), SimplyScripts, and countless others. And if you’re in LA, you can also visit the Writers Guild of America Script Library.
  • Write Sample Coverage – Every studio and production company has different things they look for in their coverage. Some places will want pages and pages of analysis (akin to a high school book report). Others are looking for only a paragraph or two. The exact format isn’t super important now, most places will want you to write sample analysis for them as part of the application, anyway. All that’s important now is to train your mind to get used to looking at scripts with a critical eye. If you are curious about what your coverage should look like, WeScreenplay has a great article on how to format your findings.
  • Learn What The Industry Wants – At the end of the day, you’re not writing a book report. You’re telling a multi-billion dollar company whether or not they should spend hundreds of millions making a movie (don’t let it go to your head). It’s important to learn what the industry’s looking for. Watch TV and movies that align with the type of coverage you want to do. And lot’s of them (yeah, watching TV is part of your job, isn’t it great?). Read the trades (Variety, Deadline, and THR), subscribe to Get Me An Agent or similar services to keep up to date on the movers and shakers in Hollywood, listen to podcasts about the industry (Scriptnotes, The Big Picture, 3rd & Fairfax, The Director’s Cut). Soak in every detail you can.

Okay, it’s time to apply!

Great! You’ve done the work to make yourself the best possible applicant for a script reader position, now it’s time to apply. But before you do, make sure to have the following ready:

  • Your resume – You still need a resume. I won’t talk much about writing one here because a quick Google search will tell you everything you need to know on that front.
  • Sample coverage – Don’t send this with your resume. Most places will want you to do coverage on a script they have in-house. But have a sample in your back pocket before you apply. Re-read the above section about writing coverage. Double-check your spelling. Make sure to have a solid “take” on the script you’re analyzing. In terms of picking what script to analyze, DON’T use anything you wrote for another company. If you were paid to write it, they own it. I’d suggest using a movie or TV episode that’s well-known. Whoever’s reading your coverage will need to have knowledge of the piece you’re analyzing so they can tell whether they agree with you.
  • Good old-fashioned references – A lot of places want these. So make sure you have them (but don’t send them right away). Keep them in your back pocket so you don’t have to scramble to find people to say nice things about you when when you’ve made it to that step of the interview process.

Once you have your application materials ready, it’s time to apply. Like everything else in Hollywood, applications work a little differently out here. Do the following (in order) when looking for jobs:

1.) If you have an “in”…

This is the best way to get a script reader job. If you live in LA, you’ve probably met somebody who can help get you a job. If you’re friendly with anybody who works at a studio or production company, ask them in passing if their boss is looking for script analysts. But don’t reach out to somebody you haven’t spoken to in a year to ask for a job. It’s rude.

2.) If you work at a studio or production company…

Lot’s of you reading this probably already have a low-level job at a studio, agency, or production company. Don’t be afraid to ask around your company to see if they’re looking for anybody to do coverage (unless you’ve only been there a week). Don’t outright ask for a promotion. Just float the idea. And try to float it to assistants one or two steps above you, they’re often the ones making the hiring decisions anyway.

3.) If neither is true…

If you have no “in” and don’t already work at an entertainment company, don’t fret, you can still get a job as a script reader. Here’s how to reach out cold:

  1. Entertainment Jobs sitesEntertainmentCareeers.net, Mandy
  2. The UTA Job List – This is a list of assistant jobs in Hollywood (including script reader jobs) created by The United Talent Agency that comes out on a weekly basis. Again, ask around. I’m sure you can find somebody who gets it (if you’re a GMAA subscriber, talk to us. We’ll see what we can do).
  3. Facebook Groups – There are plenty of script readers jobs to be found on Facebook. Here are some of my favorites: I Need A PA, Production Assistant Jobs In Film & TV, Awesome Assistants (Many of these require an invite or an application. Queue the mantra of this article: ask around. Somebody you know will be a member).
  4. Reach Out Cold – Here’s where we shamelessly promote our product. Many agencies hire readers. And the best way to contact agencies is with a subscription to Get Me An Agent. For production companies and studios, find a phone number and call. Ask if they’re looking for script readers. Speaking from experience, sometimes you get lucky with this approach.
  5. Job Sites – Getting a reader job off Indeed is extremely unlikely. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to try as a last resort. Some entertainment companies do post script readers jobs on Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Monster.com, etc.

And that’s it! Hollywood is definitely a competitive business, and lots of other people will be competing with you for a small pool of jobs. But if you keep pushing (loooooong after everybody else has quit, mind you), you will get a script reader job.

I’ll leave you with a quick parting thought. A successful showrunner once told me something that made me rethink my entire career trajectory. He said “these assistant jobs are just as competitive as writer jobs. So why not go for the writer jobs?” When that sunk in, it changed the entire way I thought of myself. And not long after that, I got my first paid writing gig. So instead of putting your blood, sweat, and tears into becoming a script reader, you could put your blood sweat and tears into becoming an actual screenwriter. If you want to go down that path, the best way to do it is with a subscription to Get Me An Agent. We have plans starting from $19.99 / month. Why not take a look?

10 Tips for Crafting The Best Cold Emails to Agents

One of the most arduous parts of being an aspiring screenwriter (or aspiring anything in the Entertainment business, for that matter), is reaching out cold to agents and managers. We all want reps, and we’re all doing the same things to get them. How do you stand out? What are the best things to do? How about the worst things to do. The big no-nos. Today, we’re going to break down 10 Tips for Crafting The Best Cold Emails to Agents (or managers). And don’t forget, if you’re not already a member of Get Me An Agent, join today to make the experience that much easier (we’ll have some more shameless self-promotion at the end). But first, here are the tips:

What to do

These are the best things to do to craft the best cold emails.

1. Keep it short and sweet

Agents and managers get tons of these emails. We all think they want our life story. They don’t. Keep your email short and to the point. I usually have a few sentences about myself, a sentence or two about the agent and why I’d love to work with them, and I cap it all off with my project’s logline.

But don’t forget the sweet part of the equation, either. Show your personality. Don’t be a robot. You’re not applying for an internship at a bank. If an agent or manager is going to rep you, they’re going to do so because they think you have a unique voice that can make them money. Have a personality. Throw in a few jokes. Be informal but not too informal. If the agent’s name is “Brad”, call him “Brad” (not “Mr. Pitt” on one hand, or “Dude” on the other).

2. Pick the right sample

Firstly, make sure you proofread your sample like a million times before you send it in. And make sure the first 10 pages or so are killer. If an agent doesn’t like the first ten pages, they won’t read the rest. And the reverse is also true: If they do like the first ten pages, odds are they’ll read to the end. Make sure you’ve had notes done on your sample. You only get one chance once somebody offers to read you, so don’t send your first script. Wait until you’ve got something really good.

PRO TIP: A successful showrunner once told this to me. If somebody offers to read you and you think your sample would be much better if you work on it for a week or two, tell them that (maybe not if you’re reaching out cold. If you’re reaching out cold, get it good before you start emailing).

Don’t pick your Slice-of-Life sample to send to managers. You want things that pop. Loglines that will make them go “Hell yeah I want to read that.” Don’t worry so much about selling this sample. Just make it something they’ll remember. Which brings us to…

3. Have a killer logline

This one is important. You’re not going to be sending your actual script in the first email, so make sure your logline pops. Here are some keys to crafting the best loglines.

  • Irony. Loglines should have an element of irony to them. A logline like “a depressed housewife deals with the day-to-day lives of her children” is boring. It’s expected. Take instead, “After waiting decades for her children to move out, an empty-nester works to find purpose after her children leave the house”. This logline has an element of surprise. This mom was waiting for years for her kids to leave but finds her life pointless once they’re gone. I’d read that script.
  • Specificity. You want your logline to express the uniqueness of your sample and your voice. This is an example of a bad logline for a popular show: “An out-of-work sitcom star muddles through his post-fame life”. This is boring. It doesn’t tell you anything interesting about the project. Consider it’s actual logline: “BoJack Horseman, a fat horse, was the star of the hit television show “Horsin’ Around” in the ’80s and ’90s, now he’s washed up, living in Hollywood, complaining about everything, and wearing colorful sweaters.” This logline tells you the exact specifics of what makes this show unique. Much better.
  • Set-up. Knock-down. You want your logline to have the cadence of a joke. The first half of the logline should send the story in one direction, and the second should knock down that expectation. Read the book Save The Cat for more on this subject.

4. Personalize the email

This is a numbers game, don’t get us wrong. The more people you reach out to, the more will respond. But that doesn’t mean you should send out bland Copy-And-Pasted emails. If you use a service like GMass (outlined below), you can customize each email without writing a new email for each person. Look into each agent you reach out to (if you’re a Get Me An Agent member, we include links to LinkedIn, IMDb, and each agent’s website with each email) before you send the email. Look through their clients (you can find this information on some agency websites, or with a service like IMDbPro) and find at least one who’s worked on a project like the one you’re pitching. If you like any of their clients, tell them! And if you personally know any of their clients, reach out to the person you know and ask them to put in a good word for you.

5. Use GMass

If you’re sending out mass emails (which I’d recommend doing), use the service GMass, which allows you to send out mass emails customized to the person in question. With GMass, you can personalize the email and send follow-ups. And no, they didn’t pay us for this 🙂

You can find GMass here.

6. Send Follow-Ups

This one’s pretty straightforward, but super important. Many people won’t reach back out the first time you email them. Either because they think you’ll stop bothering them after the first email, or because they literally just forget. They’re people too.

I usually make a point of sending three to four follow-ups, roughly five days apart. In my second or third follow-up, I start to mention how I’ll “stop bugging them” if they respond. I tended to get the most responses at the first follow-up email.

NOTE: I would not recommend following up more than, say, four times. Keep in mind these are people you’ll hopefully have to work with some day, and you don’t want to annoy them to the point where they remember down the road.

What not to do

Just like there are plenty of ways to craft the right email, there are many ways to guarantee nobody will read you.

7. Don’t send the sample in the first email

If you come away from this article with only one lesson, let it be this! If you send your sample in the cold email, before they’ve asked for it, NOBODY WILL READ YOU. This is all because of the fact that many aspiring writers attempt to sue TV Shows and Movies for copying their ideas, despite the fact that this rarely actually happens in the industry. To protect against this, almost every agency and management firm, studio and production company, have a policy to immediately destroy any unsolicited content. People try very hard to get around this. I worked for a famous director at a well-known production company a few years back and somebody showed up on our doorstep with a paper bag full of canned goods. Confusedly, many of us fished through the bag only to find, hidden under all of it, a crappy Avengers-knockoff feature. That wasn’t important to the article, just a funny story.

Point is, always ask the agent if they’d be interested in taking a look at the script. Anything else is a recipe for an empty inbox.

8. Don’t use your vanity email

We all have fancy websites with cool Parallax effects and all of our projects lined up in one beautiful spot. And many of us have our own vanity emails (carolyn@caroylnmaguirefilm.com type of thing) — Quick aside, that’s not a real email — But, even though it may seem far more professional to use your fancy website email, don’t. Use GMail!

GMail has many faults, but bounce rate isn’t one of them. I can tell you from experience: Using GMail has the most delivered emails. Many 3rd-party servers’ email clients bounce every fifth or sixth email. And even if your email does make it through to the agent or manager in question, they’re far more likely to delete it immediately because it looks like marketing.

9. Don’t be sleek

This is an extension of number 8, but it’s really important. We all have a tendency to try and be as professional and sleek as possible. Fancy email signatures, nice headshots, professional inquiry subject lines. I’m telling you right now: cut it out. The best subject line is this: “quick question”. The best signature is your first name and maybe a link to your website. And, as previously stated, the best email is @gmail.com. Agents and managers are just looking for reasons to turn you away, sight unseen. The more you look like a professional corporate entity sending out mass emails, the more they’re likely to ignore you and move on to the next email. The emails that get responses, in my own experience, are the emails that are friendly but reserved, personal but not stalky, professional but not corporate.

10. Don’t be a one trick pony

What does this mean? You shouldn’t be reaching out to reps until you’re ready. This means you have not one, but TWO or more samples you’re super proud of, samples you’d show to Stephen Spielberg himself if he asked to read you.

Because here’s the thing: let’s say an agent agrees to read you. Then gets back to you and is interested in taking the next steps. YAY! Now what? Now they ask for a second sample. And you’d better have it. Because they’re never going to rep you off of one great thing. Don’t spend your whole life writing the next Great American Screenplay. Write fifty good screenplays, take the five best and polish them till they’re excellent. Here are some tips to consider when picking your backup samples:

  • They still have to be good. Your main sample should be your best, definitely. But it shouldn’t be so much better than your backups that they’re indistinguishable. Make sure you’ve got at least two scripts edited to near-perfection.
  • Be different. Any prospective agent wants to see versatility. Don’t send them two takes on NCIS. But don’t be too different either. If you send one My-Brother’s-A-Zombie comedy, don’t send a gritty Handmaid’s Tale-esk show as your backup. Show you have range, but also that you still have a defined voice. They need a way to sell you.
  • Pick a lane. This may seem like a polar opposite to the above tip, but it’s not. As somebody famous once said: Show me a writer who can write anything and I’ll show you the writer who doesn’t know their voice. If you send a half-hour pilot for your first sample, don’t send a feature as your second. Agents need to know how to pitch you.

And that’s it. Ten useful tips for writing those cold emails to agents. While nothing’s guaranteed in life, following these 10 tips will put you well on your way to getting repped. And here’s a bonus tip:

11. Subscribe to Get Me An Agent

We’ve got plans from only $19.99/month and over 400+ verified Hollywood lit agents and managers in our system. Each email in our system has been verified by our team, so you know it’s real. Plus, with our Unlimited plan, you can send us your script and we’ll Match You with up to five agents and five managers who’d love to read your script. What are you waiting for?

Frequently Asked Questions About GMAA

We’re so excited you’re considering joining the GMAA family. We really think you’ll find us a valuable resource on your quest to find an agent or manager. Our staff is made up of real entertainment industry professionals who use our service to get repped themselves. Our goal is to provide you with the complete package, whether you subscribe to us or not. If you’re curious about our plans (or honestly just have a question about the industry in general), please don’t hesitate to shoot us an email. But, in the meantime, here’s a list of the most common questions people have about Get Me An Agent.

Does it really work, reaching out to people cold?

It’s ALWAYS going to be easier to find representation with an “in”. If you know anybody, definitely let the agent/manager know that before you reach out. And you should never just send out cold emails and rest on your laurels. Be proactive. The people who make it in this industry try every way in they can find. But yes, many writers have got their representation through reaching out cold. People will read you. And if they like what you send them, they will rep you. It’s all about the quality of the work and the way you connect with them.

How should I write “the email”

Good question. Check out our full guide on writing “the email” here. But for now, here are some things to keep in mind.

  • Be nice, polite, and friendly.
  • Know something about the person you’re contacting (we provide links to LinkedIn, IMDb, and Agency Websites to help with this part).
  • NEVER send your script in the first email. This is a big one. Always ask them if they would be interested in reading you. Otherwise your email will be deleted, sight unseen.

But what if I want to send my script in the first email?

Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. In addition to hurting your chances (reducing them to zero), it affects our relationship with agents and managers. We want to cultivate a good relationship with everybody involved in GMAA, but sending unsolicited material puts agents and managers in tricky situations, and results in emails being removed from our directories. Not good for anybody.

What if I’m not looking for reps? Is GMAA still useful?

Absolutely! If you’re developing a project, looking to connect with a writer, or even just looking to send fan mail, GMAA is great for you. We’ve had clients who use us as an everyday resource for connecting with representation in their day-to-day business.

What makes GMAA different from other ‘Celebrity Contact’ services?

Good question. Firstly, agents aren’t really celebrities, so they’re often not listed on sites like that. And even on sites like IMDb Pro that have some agent contact info, it’s sparse and often not reliable. We, on the other hand, have reached out to every agent and manager on our list personally, and are constantly developing and growing our catalogue.

How do you collect your emails?

Emails are collected from many sources, including IMDbPro, agency directories, client websites, social media, and other such sources. Unlisted agents and managers may also submit themselves directly to Get Me An Agent, here. Get Me An Agent’s catalogue is compiled using ONLY public information. We never use private emails, and refrain from using personal email addresses, even when the agent has made them public. This is to protect agents and managers from unwanted spam, but also to protect you. We are providing a service to agents and managers as much as writers, but we never want to inundate their personal inboxes and private emails with queries, as this leads to angry agents (not good for anybody).

Will my emails bounce?

If you see contact info for an agent/manager on GMAA, you can be sure it’s real. We’ve personally reached out to every agent and manager listed on our website, and only included those that don’t bounce.

Are there contracts? Catches?


How do you verify the email addresses are real?

In some cases, we reach out to agents and managers directly. However, to avoid spamming them, we also use services like Hunter and Nymeria, online tools that help verify whether an email address is real, without ever bothering the person on the other end.

What if I can’t pay for GMAA?

LA’s expensive, we know. And working your way up doesn’t pay super well in the beginning. So we want to help you out. If you can’t afford GMAA, shoot us an email and explain a bit about your situation. We’ll try to help out!

Do you have an app?

We do! We have what is called a Progressive Web App (PWA). This means it lives on your phone just like any other app, but you don’t get it from an app store. Our PWA has all the same features as our website, but saved on your phone (and available offline, too). To install our PWA, simply visit our website on your phone. A little banner should appear at the bottom of your screen that says “Add to Home”. Simply click the banner and follow the directions. If the banner doesn’t appear, try these steps for Android and iOS.

Okay, but what if I really want to send my script in the first email?

Please don’t.

How do I search your directory?

Members can break down their searches by genre (Drama or Comedy), and medium (Features, TV), or peruse our entire catalogue all at once. Have a specific agent or manager you want to connect with? Navigate to either the ‘Agents’ or ‘Managers’ page, and select Cntrl (Cmnd on a Mac) + F, and search for their name.

I’m an agent. How do I get myself listed? (Or Delisted 🙁 )

If you’re an agent or manager and want to get listed in our directory, update your information (such as your Picture, Email, or Useful Links), or get removed from our directory (sad face), click here to visit our Agent Center)

This sounds great! Where can I sign up?

What an excellent question! You can check out our plans and signup here.