What is the most simple and easy way to pitch something to representation, executives, publishers, and production companies through email? We’re about to offer you the most uncomplicated, undemanding, and effortless way to do just that.
We live in a digital world. Snail mail — those archaic things we used to call letters — have no place in a writer’s arsenal when it comes to pitching their work in hopes of getting an agent, manager, executive, publisher, or producer interested.
You can certainly utilize networking through your direct contact list, but for most writers, that’s not an option because they aren’t embedded in the industry yet. Until they are, email is the only way in. And you’d be surprised how effective a query email can be.
So here we offer your very own quick and easy guide to pitching your screenplay, pilot, book, or indie film online. Inspired by first hand success and Callie Oettinger’s How to Pitch.
Start with a Thank You
It’s not often that industry insiders hear a thank you in their daily email correspondence. They are usually bombarded by demands and requests.
When you start with thanking them for something, you immediately stand out.
“Thanks so much for the films you produce…”
“Thanks for the writers you’ve brought into the market…”
Or if you want to water the thank you down a bit, simply thank them for taking the time to read your email query.
“Thanks so much for taking the time to read my email.”
An honest thank you can go a long way to opening a positive correspondence with them.
State Your Purpose
Industry insiders are busy. Plain and simple. They handle multiple emails per day from all facets of their industry. So you want to be sure to keep things short, sweet, and to the point.
“I’m emailing you in regards to a script that I’ve written.”
“I’m writing to ask if you’d be willing to consider me and my work for representation.”
Stating your purpose is not the pitch. It’s just a piece of that puzzle. It should be done with one simple sentence that let’s them know why you’re emailing them.
State Why They May Be Interested
This step offers instant context as to why they are being contacted by you.
“My script is something that seems to mesh with what type of stories you love to produce.”
“You are the go-to person for X subject and I believe that this screenplay might appeal to you.”
Whatever angle you have, whatever reason you’ve found that they are the one to pursue, conjure a simple sentence or two that points to that impression.
State Who You Are
This isn’t about going into your detailed bio about why you love to tell stories and what your journey has been. If you have a specific and unique background or resume point, state it. Beyond that, create a sentence that encapsulates the broad stroke of who you are and why that may matter to them.
“I’m a veteran and I’ve written a story inspired by what I’ve seen in combat — and the repercussions of that.”
“I’m a novelist and I’ve adapted my award-winning novel into a potential television series pilot.”
“I’m a Nicholl Fellowship semifinalist.”
If there is no unique or specific trait, element, or stand-out feature, be creative in finding a way to put a certain context into the type of person you are and why that might appeal to them.
If they produce science fiction movies? “I’m a science fiction writer.”
If they represent certain types of writers? “I’m a writer that may fall under your umbrella of interest.”
State Your Logline
Your logline is the core of your story. It’s the one to two sentence pitch that contains the core concept of what you’ve created.
This part of your email pitch is key because it will either interest them, or not. And that will happen the very moment that they read it. Writers have no control over the outcome because in the end, stories are subjective. They’ll either respond to it or they won’t.
It’s time for a young African American to meet with his white girlfriend’s parents for a weekend in their secluded estate in the woods, but before long, the friendly and polite ambiance will give way to a nightmare.
In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent into the past, where a hired gun awaits – someone like Joe – who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by sending back Joe’s future self for assassination.
An ex-hitman comes out of retirement to track down the gangsters that took everything from him.
End with a Thank You
Once again, it cannot be said enough as far as how much a simple thank you can make an impact. Too many writers forget to include this vital, and so simple, element within their online pitches.
They are hopefully taking the time to read your queries. Thank them for it.
That’s it. You start with a thank you. You state your purpose. You let them know why they may be interested. You tell them who you are. You share your logline. And then you end with a thank you. And include smooth transitions between each of these — one should run into and relate to the other.
There is no time for a detailed introduction. There is no time for an in-depth explanation for why you are emailing them. There is no time for you to go on and on about why they should be interested. There is no time to offer a long synopsis — and certainly not an attached treatment — for your story. One sentence for each of those pitch elements is all that is necessary.
It doesn’t work every time, but this simple and easy approach has worked successfully for many — including myself.
Before you contact them, be sure to do the following:
Research the Individual
Know who they are, what they’ve done, what they’re currently doing, and why you should be contacting them.
Research the Company
Know what types of projects they are making — and thus know what types of projects you shouldn’t be pitching.
Watch Your Word Count
If you’re going past the 300 word mark, do your best to trim it down.
While you may want to know their reaction as soon as possible, always remember to avoid injecting any form of urgency or time frame.
Don’t Play for Pity
It doesn’t work. It never does. When you are tempted to communicate how desperate you are and the reason why you are so desperate, it creates an instant form of discomfort on their end.
Don’t Misspell Names
Triple check every spelling of every name. Watch out for Stephen versus Steven or Johnson versus Johnston.
Don’t Pitch Through Facebook
Facebook stalking celebrities and industry insiders is not the way to connect. For celebrities, their Facebook pages are usually nothing more than promotional pages likely run by their PR. For industry insiders — agents, managers, producers, executives — their Facebook pages are private. The last thing they want are screenwriters trying to Friend them and Messenger them.
Don’t Give Up
A few emails isn’t enough. Even the best emails with the best pitches will get rejected a majority of the time. The more you pitch, the better your odds of stumbling upon that one yes that could change the trajectory of your dreams and aspirations.
Ken Miyamoto has worked in the film industry for nearly two decades, most notably as a studio liaison for Sony Studios and then as a script reader and story analyst for Sony Pictures.
He has many studio meetings under his belt as a produced screenwriter, meeting with the likes of Sony, Dreamworks, Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, as well as many production and management companies. He has had a previous development deal with Lionsgate, as well as multiple writing assignments, including the produced miniseries Blackout, starring Anne Heche, Sean Patrick Flanery, Billy Zane, James Brolin, Haylie Duff, Brian Bloom, Eric La Salle, and Bruce Boxleitner. Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies