Producers tell me to get an agent, and agents won’t read my stuff – How can I start my career?

by Ashley Scott Meyers on February 4, 2013

Quite often I get emails from people who say something like this:

“I sent a query letter to some producers but they told me they don’t read unsolicited material and to find an agent and have the agent submit the screenplay. So I approached some agents and they either won’t read my screenplay or they say that they only represent writers with credits. How can I start my career? It sounds like a catch-22.”

First check out these two posts I wrote a while ago:

Submitting to companies that don’t take unsolicited material

Production companies are telling me they do not take unsolicited material

The good news is that you’re not stuck and you can start your career. Every single screenwriter started out in exactly this same situation. But they got past it and so can you.

As a rule I’ve found that while many producers might say “no unsolicited material” many of them will, even if this goes against company policy, read unsolicited scripts. But the query letter and log line really has to grab them. Not every query letter and log line is going to grab every producer. In fact even the best query letters and log lines will probably only generate interest from a small percentage of the people you send it to, so you’re going to need to send out a ton of query letters.

Most agents will at least entertain a log line. Again, though, it really has to grab them for them to request the full screenplay. Keep in mind these agents are probably seeing dozens of query letters and log lines per week.

So if you find yourself stuck one of two things is going on here:

#1 You’re simply not submitting enough query letters to get through. When I’m submitting to production companies I’ll usually send out about 5,000 query letters. Even if I only get 1% to request the screenplay it still means I’ve got 50 script requests. And I usually get a ton that say “no unsolicited material.” That’s just how it goes. I offer a service email/fax blast service to this list if you would like to try it out.

#2 It’s also possible that your query letter and log line simply aren’t good enough. So re-write them, make them better, and try again. I an happy to review your log line and query letter in my screenwriter’s forum.

Most likely though it’s a combination of both things. Your query letter and log line could be better but you’re also not sending enough letters out to really know.

What you should do is build your database as much as you can. I would try and get several thousand contacts in it. Then start firing off batches of 100 at a time. If you get zero script requests from the 100 letters, write a new log line and a new query letter. Keep testing this until you have a solid query letter that’s getting at least one or two script requests per 100 sent, then scale it up and send it out to everyone in the World.

If you found this post useful and want to learn more about how to sell your screenplay please check out my book Selling Your Screenplay.

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