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How to market your script when you have no money

I got an email from an aspiring screenwriter that went something like this:

What else can I possibly do to get my script sold?

Here’s what I’ve done so far.

1. Worked for about 3 months on the script, read books, read scripts.
2. Rewrote it 13 times, it’s gleaming.
3. Wrote a treatment, synopsis, and a good logline.
4. Got the Hollywood Creative Directory (HCD) and sent out a bunch of query letters.
5. Started working on another script (65 pages in).
6. Waited, not so patiently.

What else can I do with a wallet constantly running on empty?

It sounds like you’re doing everything I suggest in my How to Sell Your Screenplay (in a nutshell). Just keep doing it. For as long as you can. It may take years but the rewards will be worth it.

Since email is free you can continue to market your scripts using email addresses listed in the HCD. By the time you get through the entire book you should be done your next script so you can start over from the beginning.

Since most cell phone providers offer unlimited calling plans fairly cheaply you could try and cold call companies in the HCD, too. Again, this isn’t going to be easy but it’s cheap and only requires you to put in the time.

You could start to network a bit with filmmakers in your area. Find a director and write something that you two can produce yourself. It doesn’t cost a lot to shoot something on HD video with friends as actors. Any credit is a good credit and even if it never directly helps your writing career, seeing people breathe life into your story will be inspiring, motivating and a great learning experience.

Do you live in L.A.? If not, you should move here. Your networking opportunities will be much better and the people who you’re sending query letters to will take you more seriously. I know this isn’t going to be cheap but L.A. has lots of job opportunities so no matter what your survival job is you can probably find it in L.A.

See my posts about living in Los Angeles.

One thing that I think is critical to screenwriting success is getting to a place where your wallet isn’t “running on empty.” On the one hand being poor is motivation to keep working hard to achieve your goal – I get that – but on the other hand becoming a screenwriter isn’t a sprint it’s a marathon and it’s imperative that you enjoy the journey, too. Having some extra money will allow you to market your scripts more aggressively and perhaps even invest in producing some of them yourself, too, even if it’s just shorts with local filmmakers.