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Screen & Stage
January, 2008


Marketing Basics
A script must be ready to be seen
By  Jerrol LeBaron

A writer who expects to be successful performs up to four times more marketing.
A screenwriter has two jobs: screenwriter and salesman.

In fact, itís the reason I started I wrote a screenplay and tried to get it read. I found how difficult it was to get even the synopsis seen. It became clear to me that I needed to spend almost as much time on the marketing as I did in writing the screenplay.

In my years as a screenwriter, I have learned that the script must be ready to be seen before it is marketed. If a script is a first draft and the writer is not a produced writer, unbelievably skilled and talented, and no writing peers have critiqued the script, the odds are extremely great that the script needs several rewrites.

If a script has typos, grammatical errors or is not properly formatted and bound, donít waste time and money trying to sell it.

Anybody can come up with a good idea for a story. Producers are looking for writers who can take an idea and transform it into a well-written script. From the producer's point of view, there are too many scripts by writers who know how to spell check, have a proper command of the language and have properly formatted and bound scripts to waste their time on a writer who doesn't, no matter how good the idea is.

Writing is an art form just like dancing, acting, painting and sculpting. It takes study and practice. One wouldn't expect to get a job doing data entry without knowing how to type.

Once the script is finally up to snuff, it is time to market it. The essence of marketing is making a service or product known to the people who want it.  There are several basic steps to marketing: knowing your market, coming up with an effective plan to reach that market, and implementing that plan.

Screenplays have several markets that can be broken down to many sub-markets: independent films, studio films, TV, cable, direct to video, etc. To know which is which, read the trade papers and watch the movies coming out of these markets. With all personal aspirations aside, try to figure out where your script can most easily be sold. Selling a script is hard enough without trying to sell it to a market that isn't interested.

There are a number of ways to get your scripts out there.

1. Query Letters. Send to producers, reps, directors (many directories are available). The key is to keep the query letter simple, clear and concise. A query letter contains three things: your full contact info, including email address. A very short introduction. Your logline and/or synopsis. For more tips on querying, please see

2. Attend pitch sessions.

3. Enter contests and festivals.  (Enter more than one).

4. Attend writing seminars.

5. Consider hiring a script analyst.  (For information regarding script coverage, please see

6. List your script on and the various other screenplay and script listing services available on the internet.

To market a script, first find out how much work is involved or how much effort you will need to exert. You may come up with a perfect strategy, but if you don't do enough of it, you will greatly reduce the odds of success.

Look at what other un-produced writers are doing to get their scripts sold. From this, you should learn one thing: if you do the exact same amount of marketing and use the same marketing plan, your odds of getting a script sold will be the same as theirs.

As a general rule, a writer who expects to be successful should perform up to four times more marketing, on a weekly basis, as the average un-produced writer.

What can you use for marketing? Anything! You just had one of your scripts optioned, you are starting another script, you just gained representation, you moved to L.A., you moved out of L.A., one of your shorts is being produced, you just received good coverage, your script made it past the first cut in a festival or contest competition, etc. All of these are acceptable lead-ins to queries.

Once you have gained representation, in most cases your work is not done. I know writers who are represented by major agencies. The first thing they will tell you is that you must continue marketing your script as if you weren't represented. Your rep will not know every single person in the business.

Managers and reps are a tool to use in marketing. Do not stop networking and marketing your scripts, unless your rep specifically tells you not to market a specific script. You then market all of your other scripts that your rep is not handling. Be sure to coordinate your marketing efforts with your agent or manager.

The most important part of your job as a salesman is to get your work seen.  The more exposure you and your scripts receive, the greater your chances of selling it.

Best of success!IN Icon

Jerrol LeBaron is president of, which the Los Angeles Times recently called one of the ďfab-fiveĒ screenwriting sites on the Internet. In the past two years, 18 films have been produced from scripts and writers found through InkTip! For more information:

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Screen & Stage
IN This Issue
Novel To Screenplay: Adaptation 101
Learning The Lingo
Elevator Exposure
Who Profits?
On The (Back) Lot
Lingua Scriptus
Part II: The Script's Key Plot Points
Part I: The Script's Key Plot Points
Origin Of The Screenplay
Scriptspeak: Writing Dialogue

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