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.

7 thoughts on “How to market your script when you have no money”
  1. I found this article very useful. I am a screenwriter from a very small town in the midwest and so maybe Los Angeles one day would be something that I should look in to because I have problems making contacts and so yes this article has been very, very useful.


  2. It’s such an internal struggle because I don’t want to move to LA-I don’t want to do anything except write and sell-I don’t want fame-I just need to make some money then write for fun-I think You have to sell your soul to the devil to survive in LA

    1. That’s not been my experience. I grew up in Maryland and moved to L.A. after college. I love L.A. And not just because I’m a screenwriter. I think it’s a great place to live and would recommend it to anyone whether they’re interested in the entertainment business or not.

  3. I feel the same way you do Mickey. I wasn’t necessarily writing for the money… I started my 1st screenplay because I wanted to be INVOLVED. I just want the creative outlet. Can’t get WB to touch my project with a ten foot pole. They won’t accept “unsolicited” material. Well how in the hell do you make movies, then? Ridiculous. It’s entertainment here, folks, we’re not saving lives. Ooops, there I go being bitter. *wink*

  4. Ashley is right; just keep going.

    For example, I’ve been working on my current script for over a year, and am polishing two more, with many others on the shelf. The race is long – enjoy the run.



  5. Rumour has it that ‘RAY’ took 15 years to get made and that was based on the life of legend Ray Charles (famous bio should be easy sell but was not). Even with Jamie Foxx attached it still took forever to find the distributor and funds to be produced.

    Focus on each word, each page and once you have the best scscreenplay you can write, get feedback and rewrite it to make it even better. Then comes the real work – marketing it. If it was easy, everyone would do it!

    You can never fail unless you quit, so if you never quit you can never fail… Those words hold true, so keep going.

    Persistence is Omnipotent!!!
    Sandford Tuey

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