Finding an agent isn’t as easy as attaching your script to a mass email blast and hitting ‘Send’. If you’re going to really devote time to building a career as a screenwriter, you’re going to have to invest real time into the search, and you’re going to need to go through the query process in a very specific way. That’s why we created our process. We interviewed dozens of writers on how best to develop queries, and have amassed their tips into four distinct categories that we like to call the four tenets of Get Me An Agent.
NEVER send unsolicited material. Always ask an agent if they want to read you.
This is the single most-important part of the query process. T there’s a lot of money involved in the development process, which makes agents very wary of receiving unsolicited scripts from would-be clients, for fear they may be hit with a lawsuit if they produce a series or film with a similar plot or characters. And while this myth of IP being stolen from writers is a very rare occurrence (see our guide on protecting a TV show for more on this), it’s a common fear. If you send your script out cold to an agent or manager, you will almost certainly receive a depressing response like this:
Dear Screenwriter Who Isn’t Going To Be Repped By Us,
Please be advised that Big Name Agency does not accept unsolicited material or requests for representation. The Unsolicited Material you sent us was destroyed unread with no copies kept by Big Name Agency. Please note, the Unsolicited Materials were also not forwarded or discussed with any third parties. Accordingly, any future perceived similarity between any Unsolicited Material and any element in any creative work of Big Name Agency or it’s clients would be purely coincidental.
Big Name Agency
Not only is this kind of email scary to receive, it also drops your chances of being read by that agent to zero. Don’t give anybody a reason to ignore you. Always send the logline first, and ask “would you be interested in reading?”
Send your script only after at least five friends/coworkers have seen it and given notes.
You probably feel the urge to ignore us on this one. But we’re serious. Even if you’re convinced that your script is the best thing to hit the market since Citizen Kane, you’ve got to show it to at least FIVE friends and/or coworkers (and receive notes from said friendworkers), before you’re ready to send it to agents or managers. Why? Because here’s the painful truth: it’s probably not nearly as good as you think it is.
It takes a script years of development before it’s ready to be made into a movie or TV show. And we know you think you’re the exception. You know how we know? Because we think we’re the exception, too. Every writer thinks they’re the one who’s just “destined” to make it, and that their writing is just so undeniably good that agents will be tripping over themselves to sign them as a client. But here’s the cold, hard truth. Those prodigies are one in twenty-million, and they’re not the vast majority of successful working writers. Almost everybody who’s actually made it in Hollywood did so by working hard, taking criticism well (and frequently), and getting feedback on their work before sending it to gatekeepers.
Have a second script (that meets the requirements of tenet 2) ready to go before you send anything.
We know, this may seem unfair. You have to reach this unattainable level of excellence with not one, but two, scripts?!?! Yes, you do. If an agent and/or manager likes your first sample, they’re going to want to make sure you’re not just a one trick pony. So they’re going to ask you to pull off the impossible… twice. So have a second excellent sample ready to go when you send out the first one.
But what are the requirements for this second sample?
It should be roughly the same genre as the first (both in the drama realm, both in the comedy realm, etc).
It should be in the same medium as the first (both TV or both features).
It should show off a different area of your expertise. If the first sample is an ensemble space opera, make the second one a more grounded, character-based story.
Your seconds sample can be a spec of a different show, but your first one cannot.
Don’t even think about reaching out until you’ve written at least six scripts.
We know you think you’re ready now. We know you think you have such a singular, once-in-a-generation voice that you simply must be heard right now. You’re wrong. Even if you have an innate understanding of character, or a lovely, flowery style of writing, you need to write at least six scripts (note, we said AT LEAST) to have even a hope of being ready to reach out to agents.
Do these six scripts have to be excellent? No. In fact, a lot of them won’t be. As we’ve said above, you must have at least two samples that pass the “Five Friends” tenet, but the other four samples will, no doubt, be worse. But what exactly do we mean when we say six scripts? Each script has to be:
They must be completed (multiple drafts, to the point where you’ve put it away on the assumption that you’re finished writing).
They must be a feature film or a TV pilot script (we love podcasts and short films, but they don’t count for our purposes).
Why are we so cruel as to force you to write six scripts before finding an agent? Because no matter how genius/talented you are, you need to write many screenplays before you reach a level of comfort with the form. That’s the deal, plain and simple. The more bad scripts you write, the less bad those scripts become. Your “best work” after script #1 is several dimensions away from your “best work” after script #6. So write all six (or more).
There you have it: the four tenets of Get Me An Agent. These are not all you need to successfully find a Hollywood agent, not by a long shot. But these are the four pillars we believe are the most important when preparing your query letters. Follow all four and you’ll be well on your way to the red carpet. And if you’re not a subscriber to Get Me An Agent, what’s standing in your way? Start your free month today!
So you’ve always wanted to come to Hollywood and pursue a career as a screenwriter, but you’ve never written a screenplay and have no idea where to start. Screenplays are written very differently from prose writing (novels, shorts stories, etc), and even once you know the basics, there are quite a few quirks and details in screenwriting that easily give away a green writer. And if you’re looking to get an agent and have your movie or TV show produced, writing something that actually resembles a screenplay is an important step. So today we’re breaking down how to actually go about writing your first screenplay.
BEFORE WE BEGIN: This piece will focus mostly on structure, software, and basic do’s and don’ts of writing a screenplay. If you’ve never written fiction before, I highly suggest you read Stephen King’s book On Writing. It’s a much better crash course on how to write than I could ever teach.
So, what is a screenplay?
Good question. A screenplay is Hollywood lingo for “movie script”. If you’re writing TV, the technical term is “teleplay”, but this guide will cover both, and nobody’s gonna look at you funny if you call your TV pilot a screenplay. While we’re at it, let’s define some more industry terms:
Feature – A full-length movie, usually between 90 and 120 minutes.
Short – A short film.
Pilot – The first episode of an original TV series. Usually, you don’t write further than the pilot when pitching a show to studios and networks.
Spec – Broad strokes, a spec script is a script you write without being commissioned by anybody. You own the rights, but you have no guarantee it’s going to be made. If you’re reading this, chances are your script will be a spec.
Spec episode – This is a confusing bit of industry jargon that means something completely different from the above definition of spec. A spec episode is an episode of an existing TV show you write to show you can emulate another show’s voice.
Okay, now that we’ve covered the definitions, let’s go deeper.
Seriously, listen to this. No, really, you need to read scripts. A lot of them. The first few will be tough, but it will get easier and more enjoyable as your brain learns how to read them. I’d even suggest reading scripts of movies and TV shows you’ve never seen, and then watching said movies / TV shows to see how they convert to the screen.
Before you attempt to write your first screenplay, you should read at least 10 scripts. I can already feel people scrolling past this section, but I’m telling you, don’t. Here are some great places to find free scripts to read online.
Can you just open up a Google Doc and start writing? You can, but you’ll likely be laughed out of any pitch meetings you manage to get. No matter how much agencies and studios say “they only care about unique voices”, nobody is going to take you seriously if your screenplay doesn’t look like a screenplay. Simple as that. So pay a bit of money (or use a free one), and get a screenwriting software. Here are a few of the most popular ones:
Named after a major thoroughfare in Hollywood, Highland is only available for Mac, so I hate it. But it’s also a creation of screenwriter John August, so I also kind of love it. And it’s only $29.99 for a license.
I used WriterDuet for a while. It’s killer feature is Online Mode, which is great if you have a Chromebook and can’t get Final Draft. It’s also a subscription, rather than a one-time fee. Plans start at $7.99/month.
There are also a bunch of less popular software to choose instead, if you want to be a maverick: StudioBinder, Celtx, and Scrivener, to name a few. I even found a Chrome Extension called YouMeScript for those of you who really just want to use Google Drive. But I strongly recommend shelling out some dough and getting a license for one of the above.
You have your software, great! You’re one step closer to typing “FADE IN”. But before you do, you might want to consider whether you’re an outliner or not. And yes, it is a choice! Many great writers, such as the aforementioned Stephen King, don’t like outlining, saying it drains their creative process. It’s a perfectly acceptable approach to simply have an idea and start writing (although if you ever work on a TV show, you’re going to have to write outlines. Sorry).
I myself find outlining very useful, even though I despise every minute the process. It’s slow, and I’m very aware that the outline is the easiest place to mess up the major beats of the story, my personal weak point. But it’s a benevolent evil (oxy moron?), and I find that when I don’t outline, I lose my the thread of the story 20 to 30 pages into any screenplay. So I end up having to go back to outline anyway.
So how do you write your outline? There are a few different ways:
Save some cats
Bullish outliners usually agree on the best starting point for an outline: Blake Snyder’s book Save The Cat. I highly suggest every aspiring screenwriter read it (yes, even those who don’t outline). But in broad strokes, here’s an example of his famous Beat Sheet (this one is for a novel, but the beats are the same for a feature):
QUICK NOTE: Snyder has a very strict adherence to outlining that I don’t necessarily use myself, so use what works and dump the rest.
Major story beats
If you want to let the cats die, but you still want to outline your work, here are some general structure rules for a screenplay (and remember: rules are made to be broken, especially in creative fields):
ACT I – Pages 1 – 20
This is where you set up your characters, the setting, and the central conflict. By the end of Act I, your protagonist (hero) is aware of the antagonist (villain), knows the mission, and has taken steps to move forward in the mission, albeit for the wrong reasons.
ACT II – Page 21 – 75
Act II is the meat, and it’s where a lot of screenwriters get bogged down.
PART I of Act II is what we call “Promise of The Premise”. If your movie is about a vampire hunter, there should be a lot of vampire hunting in this Act. The protagonist is getting their legs, facing the antagonist, and learning the ropes of their new world. As of now, things haven’t become dire yet. (Pages 21 – 45)
The MIDPOINT (Page 45ish) is when things get serious. This is either a huge failure for your protagonist, a huge victory that turns into a failure, or a twist. This is usually where the protagonist realizes they’re not as equipped to handle the antagonist as they thought.
PART II of Act II (Pages 46 – 72) is where things spiral. Everything that got serious in the midpoint is now getting exponentially worse. Try to be sadistic to your characters. What are the worst things you could do to your protagonist to destroy them and bring them to their…
LOW POINT. This is at the end of Act II, pages 72 – 75. This is where everything has fallen apart. The Nazis have the Arc. Loki has escaped. Kevin’s parents are never coming back and the burglars know he’s home alone. Everything comes crashing down at this exact moment. And then, as a final twist of the knife, you have to let your characters sit in the wreckage for a while before…
ACT III – Pages 76 – 90
This is where everything comes together. You’ve got to bring everything to a clear, concise finish (or maybe not, if you’re setting up for a sequel). And remember, as Anton Chekhov said, “If there’s a pistol above the door in Act One, it must be fired in Act Three”. This basically means you have to remember to pay off everything you’ve set up throughout the film.
The big moment. You’ve found your software, outlined (or at least developed an idea in your mind), and you’re ready to sit down and start typing. If you’re like me, you get very overwhelmed at this point. What was so exciting to you mere moments ago is now giving you a heart attack. You’re making something from nothing. It’s tough. Here are some tips to get over writers block.
Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. – Force yourself to write down ten ideas for movies or TV shows (or ten smaller ideas for the screenplay you’re currently working on) to get the juices flowing.
Set a daily quota – Sometimes it’s helpful to give yourself a quota. Start with 1 page and work your way up.
Set a deadline – On the flip side, set a date when the first draft HAS to be done, as if you’re turning it over to a studio. This will, most likely, light a fire under your behind.
The vomit pass – I learned this one from genius filmmaker Judd Apatow, and I still use it to this day. Don’t give yourself any expectations on the first draft. Just start writing, acknowledging it will probably be terrible. You can always go back and change anything (or everything) later. Here’s the twist, half the time it’s not as terrible as you think it is.
Okay, so you’ve gotten past the fear of the blank page (just kidding, you’re gritting your teeth and forcing yourself to write anyway). How do you actually write the darn thing? Well, I’ll tell ya!
Slug lines indicate a new scene. They’re written in ALL CAPS and look like this:
INT/EXT. LOCATION – TIME OF DAY
Here are some examples:
INT. OFFICE – MORNING
EXT. STREET – MANHATTAN – NIGHT
INT/EXT. CAR – COUNTRY ROAD – AFTERNOON
EXT. STREET – CONTINUOUS
Let’s break down the pieces of a slug line:
INT./EXT.– In 99% of slug lines, the first thing you’ll see is INT, to indicate the scene takes place indoors, or EXT., to indicate it takes place outdoors. If you have a scene that changes from inside to outside (ie: Two people leave a building and walk across the parking lot), you can either write a separate slug line when they exit the building, or write both as one scene under the slug: INT./EXT.
LOCATION – The location, or locations, come next. Don’t be too descriptive (bad slug line: FLOWERY DRIVEWAY OUTSIDE MANHATTAN WITH KIDS PLAYING IN THE STREET). Keep your locations straight to the point.
TIME OF DAY – The time of day is the last piece of a slug line We don’t need the exact house, just a general time of day. Most common are DAY, AFTERNOON, EVENING, and NIGHT. You may also see CONTINUOUS or CONTD. This means the scene directly follows the previous scene (Again ie: Two people leave a building AND walk across the parking lot).
This is the section that’s going to be the most comfortable for prose writers, but don’t let the familiar form lull you into a false sense of security. In the action, you describe everything we see in the scene in real time (always present tense for screenplays, people). Note I didn’t say “anything that’s going on in the characters head”. Here are some examples of BAD action lines:
Jenny walks down the street in a daze, thinking about how terrible that job interview went.
The camera can’t show what’s going on in Jenny’s head, so this action line is useless to a director.
Billy and Joe sit in the office chatting. The receptionist comes over a few times offering them coffee and then to tell them Ms. Welch will see them now.
Firstly, action should be in REAL TIME except for very specific cases. Secondly, there’s dialogue implied here, so unless we’re not in the room with them, we should hear what Billy, Joe, and the Receptionist are saying.
The sun glows bright and gold on the waves of Boston Harbor, each one roaring in anger like Jenny’s mood.
Too flowery. Keep action lines simple and to the point. Each page of your script is supposed to equal one minute of screen time. This ratio gets inflated by flowery language.
These are the two biggest errors new screenwriters make, writing action that can’t possibly be filmed, or writing like flowery language of novelists. Think of your script as a blueprint. It can have a little bit of cheek and attitude, but too much and it gets in the way. Here are the good versions of the above action lines:
Jenny walks down the street, not paying attention as she steps into the road.
HOOONK! A Semi swerves to avoid Jenny, knocking her back to reality.
Billy and Joe sit in the office. The receptionist comes over with a coffee pot.
The sun sets over the choppy waves of Boston Harbor.
Characters & dialogue
Arguably the most important piece of writing a screenplay is dialogue. Many screenwriters say is “you can teach structure but you can’t teach dialogue”. I don’t know if I believe that, but I know the most telltale sign of a rookie screenplay is bad dialogue. Here are some things to avoid:
Tropes & Clichés – “Let me get this straight”, “you better come take a look at this”, “you don’t know what [insert situation] is like”, Russian villains, Bad guy mentors, etc.
Exposition & Voiceover – Narration is usually a big no-no. The only time it’s okay is if it’s character driven, and not being used as a crutch to explain things about the world. Otherwise, it’s a lazy crutch. Same goes for lengthy blocks of dialogue in which a character explains how something works to another character who should definitely know how that thing works. Crime shows do this all the time.
Characters saying exactly what they feel – We see this all the time, even in Oscar winners. But think about it: In real life, who do you know who says exactly what they’re thinking, especially in a charged emotional moment? If you have a couple falling out of love, don’t have them talk about how they no longer love each other. Instead, give them a really specific thing to argue over. Like whether the dude was checking out another girl on the bus. That’s a cliché, so don’t use it. But the point remains. People in the real world say EVERYTHING except how they really feel.
Dialogue is centered on the page, under the character’s name, which is also centered. Dialogue usually only takes up the middle third of the page (1.5 inch margins on either side). All together, it looks like this:
Oh, no thank you.
I’ll have a cup
Wait, you’re that guy from Sharon’s party?
The one with the Hot Chili Vodka? Yeah,
none for you!
QUICK NOTE: Characters should be introduced in action before they speak. The first time we see their name is ALL CAPS, and followed by their age in parentheses and a short description:
JOE (22), a stoner bro trying to dress up nice.
BILLY (20), who reeeeaaally doesn’t like that he’s here with Joe.
In addition, here are some parentheticals you can add on the end of a character’s name to qualify their dialogue:
O.S. – Off screen. Typically used if the person is in the other room.
O.C. – Off camera. Typically used is the person is in the room but not currently in the shot.
V.O. – Voiceover. Typically used for narration or a character’s thoughts.
PRELAP – A character’s dialogue from the next scene. Used in transitions.
Putting it all together
Here’s what a sequence looks like with all the elements:
INT. UPTOWN OFFICE – DAY
JENNY (20), dressed to impress, runs out of the office, clearly holding back tears. She streaks past…
…JOE (21), and BILL (22), who enter and sit, looking curiously after her.
EXT. STREET – MANHATTEN – CONTINUOUS
Jenny pushes out of the office and starts sobbing. She steps into the street, not seeing…
…HOOOOOONK! She jumps back just in time as a Semi SCREECHES past her.
INT. OFFICE – CONTINUOUS
-sh*t. What was her problem?
The RECEPTIONIST comes over with a coffee pot.
Sure, I’ll have some.
Wait, you’re that guy from Sharon’s party?
With the Hot Chili Vodka? Yeah, none
for you. In fact…
She turns as MS. WELCH (50s), strong and imposing, comes into the room.
Don’t hire these guys. They had everyone in
my friend’s dorm drinking milk for a month.
Hire the Jenny girl.
Aw man?! Nice work, d*ckweed!
EXT. BOSTON HARBOR – AFTERNOON
Jenny sits on the pier, watching the the sun setting over the choppy waves of Boston Harbor. When…
BUZZ BUZZ. She looks down. A new call from “MS. WELCH”.
Off Jenny, confused and excited…
Once you’ve finished your draft
Keep writing, even when you can’t see the end point. And eventually you will finish the draft. Have a drink. Pat yourself on the back. Take a few days off. And you know what you get to do then? Go back to the beginning and start editing.
The best screenplays are rewritten five, ten, fifteen, sixty times. So don’ be afraid of rewrites. Show your screenplay to friends, colleagues, and industry mentors. Get the advice of screenwriters, Hollywood professionals, and people who just really like movies. I like to use Google Forms to put together a cohesive note-collection strategy. And keep rewriting. Until you reach the point where you feel you can’t rewrite anymore.
And then…? Put it away and start on your next screenplay. It will be better than your last one. And the next once will be better than that one and so on and so forth. And that, my friends, is how you become a screenwriter.
Getting your script sold
You may have noticed I’ve left a glaring hole in my guide. How do you actually sell your screenplay? Well, 1999 times out of 2000, it happens because of an agent. And that’s where we come in.
Get Me An Agent has catalogues with contact info for 400+ screenwriting agents and managers, and we’re constantly expanding. Every email in our catalogue is guaranteed to be real. Subscribers get unlimited access to our catalogues with any plan, no complicated credit system to be found. We have plans from $19.99/month, and an Unlimited plan, where you’ll get unlimited access to both catalogues AND we’ll read your Great American Screenplay and match you with agents who might be interested in you. Sounds to good to be true? It’s not. So click that fancy red button and get started today!
So you moved to LA, you found a starter job at an agency or a studio, you’re writing every day, and… nothing’s happening. After telling your family, friends, and the mean kids at school that you’re a screenwriter, the forward progression has stagnated. You knew it would be hard to get into Hollywood, but you weren’t ready for the endless hours of waiting and the feeling that no matter how close you get, a successful screenwriting career is always just out of reach. We’ve all been there. During these frustrating time, it’s important to find projects to keep you moving forward. And one of the best projects you can embark on as a young writer is finding an agent. So today we’re breaking down 10 steps every aspiring writer should take when looking for an agent.
1. Know your brand
I’ve always hated the term “personal brand”. But finding a way to sell yourself in Hollywood is important. If an agent is going to be able to pitch you to showrunners and/or studios, they’re going to need to know what they’re pitching. Every writer thinks they’re great at Features and TV, Drama and Comedy (and maybe you are), but the best advice I ever got when looking for an agent was to pick a lane and stick to it. Once you’ve made it, you can make all the wonky, experimental projects you want. But for now, pick the thing you do best and make that your thing.
There are two questions you have to answer when defining your writing brand. They are:
Am I a Feature writer or a TV writer?
Am I a comedic writer or a dramatic writer?
PRO TIP: Drama writers get paid more, go home earlier, and win more Oscars. So if you’re having trouble deciding, I’d go with Drama.
2. Have a great script
This may seem a bit obvious. But many aspiring writers don’t actually write all that much. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t look for an agent before you have a script under your belt. And the more the better. I’d recommend writing at least six or seven scripts (two or three of which you’re really proud of) before starting your search for representation. But not every good script makes a good sample (industry jargon for the script you’ll send to would-be agents). Here are some things to keep in mind when picking your sample:
Be Original – If you’ve written a spec script (an original episode of an existing show), set it aside for now. If your agent can’t get you a job on an existing show, they will try to sell your script to make into new show. They can’t do that with a spec script. So write something new.
Big Ideas – Slice-of-life stories are great. But make sure your first sample is a big idea. Agents are more likely to read scripts whose loglines stand out from the crowd.
3. Have a great script
It’s not a glitch in the Matrix. If an agent likes your first sample, they’ll want to read another. Which means you should have a second great sample to follow up with. If not, they’ll likely forget about you. And try to make your second sample different. It should show another side of your writing. If you went big with the first sample, show a more tender, intrapersonal side with your second. Remember that awesome spec script you set aside in Step 2? Now’s the time to send that. Agents love writers who can capture another show’s voice, since that’s most of the work you’re going to be doing in your career anyway. But always make sure to stay within the confines of your medium (Features or TV) and genre.
4. Have a social media presence
Don’t expect to be “discovered” on social media, you don’t need to be Justin Bieber to get an agent. But agents want to get a sense of your personality and character before they’ll rep you. So in addition to the usual “job interview” test (no alcohol, drugs, sexy pics, etc), make sure to do the following:
Show your personality in your feed. Have pictures of yourself, your writing, and any projects you’re actively working on. I’ve found pictures with a face in them perform the best.
Display your work. Anything you’ve written that’s been produced (including tiny web-series and short films) should be prominently displayed on your profiles.
Have a couple-hundred followers. Agents want to see you’ve got a following. Getting to 200 Instagram followers isn’t very hard if you start following a large number of people. (But be careful. Instagram can lock your account if they think you’re using a bot to get followers)
5. Use your connections
So you know what kind of writer you are, you have a great script, and a another one waiting in the wings. You’ve bolstered your social media with projects and frequent, personal posts. Now what?
Don’t get discouraged when I say this, but the easiest way to get an agent, yesterday, today, and until the end of time, is with strong connections. So don’t turn up your nose at this option. If you have any good friends who are writers, ask them to read your work. If they like it, ask if they’d ever consider showing their reps. Go above and beyond for your superiors at work, especially those you ‘click’ with. Make them want to help you. Eventually, when the time is right, ask them to reach out on your behalf. Ask your parents and their friends if they have connections in entertainment they could connect you to (you may think they don’t, but I grew up in rural Rhode Island and still had three different distant entertainment connections). Here are some other places to look for connections:
Writers groups, Meetups, etc.
Your LinkedIn network.
Alumni of your college or high school.
Nurture your connections, and protect your network at all costs. Don’t reach out to anybody if you think it will hurt your relationship. But most people want to feel helpful, and everybody wants to say they found the next Steven Spielberg.
6. Find agents yourself
Using or building your network of connections is great, but it can only get you so far, and it can easily land you back in the painful holding pattern we discussed at the top of this article. At some point, you’re going to want to actually start reaching out to agents yourself. But how do you find them? There are a few ways (and fair warning, shameless self-promotion ahead):
IMDbPro – The biggest repository of free agent emails is, undoubtedly, IMDbPro. Roughly one in five agents have emails or phone numbers listed here. Simply search for an agency and go through their Staff List.
Agency Websites – Some smaller agencies list their agent’s contact information on their websites, but most of the big guys (CAA, WME, UTA, ICM) don’t.
Using Nymeria and Hunter – If you know the agent’s name but can’t find their contact info, my favorite tools are Hunter and Nymeria. Hunter helps you find all the emails associated with a given domain, and Nymeria is a Chrome Extension that helps scrape emails from LinkedIn profiles (legally).
Get Me An Agent – Save the hassle (and cost) of combining the above services and do it all easily with Get Me An Agent. Every email in our database is verified to work, and you can search for agents depending on your niche. Plus we can match you with agents who might be interested in reading you. Plans start at $19.99/month (cheaper than Hunter, Nymeria, and IMDbPro).
It’s the moment of truth. You’ve got the scripts, and you have a list of agents to reach out to with said scripts. How to actually write the email? Here are some tips to consider:
Keep it short and sweet – 2 to 3 short paragraphs (1 to 2 sentences per paragraph).
Include a logline for your script, a sentence or two about you, and something personal about the agent or agency you’re reaching out (so they don’t think you’re sending mass emails).
DO NOT INCLUDE YOUR SCRIPT. Ask the agents if they’re interested in reading your script, but never send it in the first email. It will be deleted, sight-unseen, for legal reasons.
Have a personality. Agents get a lot of these emails. Be personable, but not overly chummy. Use correct grammar and be respectful, but use the agent’s first name. Don’t be a robot.
We have a whole article about how to format your cold emails, here.
I suggest using GMass, a free service (if you’re sending under 50 emails a day) that allows you to send emails to many agents at once and adds in the custom bits by default.
8. “Just circling back…”
Follow up. Follow up. Follow up. If you’re using GMass, you caneasily setup automatic follow-ups. I’d suggest sending follow-ups to anybody who hasn’t responded after 5 days, 10 days, and 15 days. In my experience, you get the most responses after your first follow-up (yes, more than from your initial email). Lot’s of times, agents simply forget to respond.
PRO TIP: Say something like “If you’re not interested, let me know so I can stop bugging you”. This will get you a lot more responses so you can check uninterested parties off your list.
9. Keep at it
Remember: you’re playing the long game. Right now, Get Me An Agent has over 200 emails, and that number is constantly growing. Keep reaching out. In my experience, one in thirty agents who respond will be willing to read you. And five-to-ten agents have to read you before you’ll get a ‘Yes’. So we’re talking about sending hundreds of emails. It really is a numbers game, and it’s easy to get discouraged. But getting an agent isn’t impossible. If you grew up outside of LA, like I did, you probably see Hollywood as a mythical city, and becoming a screenwriter as a near-impossible goal. I promise you this isn’t true. I got an agent. I got scripts sold. It IS possible. You just have to keep fighting long after everybody else has gotten bored and given up!
10. Join ‘Get Me An Agent’
Okay, hear us out! You can cut your work in half (especially in step #6) by subscribing to Get Me An Agent. Plans start at $19.99/month, and offer unlimited access to our catalogue of hundreds of verified screenwriting agents. Plus, if you signup for our Unlimited plan, we’ll read your script and match you with agents and managers who are a good fit with your project. You can sort agents by:
Medium (Features or TV)
Genres (Comedy or Drama)
Plus, you can talk to a real person on our support team 24/7/365 using Live Chat or Email. If you want a month at half the regular price, check us out on ProductHunt.