I got this question recently:

“I have some very interesting marketing ideas for my screenplay that could produce hundreds of millions for the production company. But for my first shot with the query letter should I mention anything about marketing ideas or not? And do I attach a synopsis, or just stick with a pitch line and paragraph about the screenplay in the body of the query letter like your smaple shows?”

Keep in mind there is no sure fire 100% correct way to do this. Sending out cold query letters and trying to sell your screenplay is an art not a science. I have some experience doing this but anything I say is just my opinion. One thing I do know about marketing is that you should always test what you’re doing. Try a bunch of query letters one way and then try another batch another way and see which one yields the best results.

I’ve never had any great marketing ideas for my scripts (which is probably a bad thing) so I’ve never thought to include them, but I actually think this is an excellent idea. Showing that you understand the marketing side of film, I think, would be a great way to show producers that your project is marketable. I recently sent out a query letter for a writer using my screenwriting marketing tools that had a nice paragraph about the marketability of his story. His story took place in Southern Louisiana and he briefly mentioned how much interest in Southern Louisiana there was and mentioned all the television shows that take place in this area to back up his claim. I think it added to his overall query letter. So many writers spend zero time thinking about the marketability of their story that if you actually have thought about it I think it will help make your query letter stand out.

Now you don’t want to go overboard with this. I would boil your plan down to two or three sentences and include them as one of the last paragraphs of your query letter. You just want to highlight the fact that your project is marketable and can earn money for the company but you don’t want to spend a lot of time on this at stage of the game.

Recently the query letters I’ve been sending out have been on one page. So it’s a log line, a short synopsis (like 5 sentences), and a brief paragraph about my writing background. The shorter you can make your pitch letter the better. The people reading these letters are very busy and get tons of pitches so keeping it short is essential.

4 thoughts on “Should you include marketing ideas in your screenplay query letter?”
  1. Good advice.

    I’d like to second the “be careful about going overboard with your marketing” tip. I’ve read a lot of query letters that pitch the marketing aspect WAY too hard.

    Instead, make sure you win the reader over with your story pitch.

    In general, an agent / manager will have THEIR OWN ideas how to market your script. If you have a few more, that’s great, but try not to shove them down their throat with pitches that shout, “THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO MARKET MY SCRIPT!”

    Yes, I’ve seen letters that pretty much. (Of course, you wouldn’t do that, right?) 🙂

    Keep up the good work, Ashley.




  2. I don’t know if it is fair to equate query letters for books with screenplays. Having said that, I landed a high profile agent for my husband’s book. Part of the sell was in fact how he plans to market and specifically who he knows. Ultimately we ended upnot using this agent because, perhaps understandably, he spent too much time w his tried and true clients.

    I don’t know if this marketing thing is a new twist because of the economy or if it’s been expected all along. It seems these days you have to be a one man/woman show.

  3. I’m quite new to this screenplay thing, having spent the last 15 years in sales and marketing, which obviously leads me to believe the first paragraph in a query letter should be marketability. Money is the only point for 95+% of the film industry, therefore opening up the conversation with why the concept will make money seems the most logical manner of getting the entire letter read. Perhaps I’m way off?

    1. If the log line is well written it should be pretty obvious whether it’s marketable or not and you shouldn’t have to explicitly tell the reader how marketable it is. My point in this post is that if you have any creative ideas about how to market your script or if there are any marketing angles that might not be obvious it might be worth mentioning. But as a rule a producer, agent, or manager does this for a living and they’ll know from reading your log line if it’s a marketable concept or not.

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