9 Do's & Don'ts From the Perspective of a Major Literary Manager
Bellevue Productions is one of the leading management companies in Hollywood. One of its premiere executives is John Zaozirney, President of Feature Film Production and Literary Management. In 2021, he compiled a list of Twitter threads that offers some of the best advice that screenwriters can follow. This advice can especially help screenwriters when they are looking to market their script to a literary manager.
From that list, we feature some of the major things to avoid when marketing your scripts to literary management companies, production companies, and literary managers. Let's uncover the dos and don'ts of how you should be going about submitting your scripts.
Don't Ask if They Accept Queries
"This happens five times a day."
If you have access to a contact's email address, just go ahead and send out a simple, short, and sweet query to them. Do your research first, though. Check the company websites and see if there are any declarations stipulating that they do not accept unsolicited queries.
While many management companies do accept queries, most agencies do not.
The point of the advice is that management companies have a lot of email correspondence to deal with. Asking them a question like that when you could be just sending them a short query with your logline just adds more work for the interns, assistants, managers, and executives.
Don't Email or Call Asking for General Career Advice
Management and production companies work long hours amidst a fast-paced schedule of correspondence through email, phone, Zoom, and in-person meetings. Taking the time to go back and forth answering general career advice questions with up-and-coming screenwriters isn't what these companies do. They are there to find screenwriters that are ready to work and have scripts that the company is interested in developing.
Yes, if you've queried them and if they are interested in signing you on as a client because of that query (and the scripts you share as samples of your work), they will guide you on your screenwriting career and journey. But only then.
Read More: 3 Things Your Short Scripts Should Have in Order to Sell
Don't Email or Call Asking to Grab a Coffee and Chat
Much like #2, these companies run a business with many emails, calls, and meetings to attend. Unless you're a client or potential client that they are interested in, they won't have the time to sit down to hear pitches or answer general career questions.
Don't Demand to Schedule a Meeting
Believe it or not, some people have the gall to demand meetings. They email offices. They call offices. And sometimes, they even show up at offices (see below). This is unprofessional and inappropriate.
Read More: The Fastest Way To Give Your Spec Scripts a Killer Hook
Don't Show Up Uninvited
"Has happened a few times and was a bit scary."
You may have read some screenwriting books from the 1990s that told tales of screenwriters showing up to agencies, management companies, or production companies uninvited to pitch their scripts. Those same books may have heralded the practice as a way to stand out amongst the crowd.
Don't do it.
It's unprofessional and inappropriate. And can be very scary for those within the office.
You show up only when you're invited to do so.
Don't Call an Executive or a Literary Manager's Office to Pitch
There is a time and place to pitch. And that time and place are not on personal or office lines of a company's executives and managers. They are busy with their daily tasks. They don't have time to take random calls for unsolicited phone pitches.
Don't Physically Mail Your Scripts (Or Any Documents)
Agencies, management companies, production companies, networks, and studios will not open any unsolicited materials sent to them via mail, fax, delivery service, or in-person drop-off. There are too many legal reasons to discuss. Just don't do it. It's a waste of paper and your time. They won't be read.
Read More: How to Use Scene Breakdowns to Discover What Make Scripts Tick
Don't Attach Files to Your Email Query for a Literary Manager
"If there is a file attached, I automatically delete the email. Just like you would if you got an email from someone you didn't know with a file attached."
For the same reasons above in #7, don't attach any type of file to the initial query email that you'll be sending to a literary manager or production company. The best thing to do is make your quick pitch via the query and then see if the logline interests them. If it does, they will request the script (after you've signed a release form). This prevents people from being able to say that a company stole their idea.
Don't Focus Your Marketing on High-Level Reps Who Only Rep A-List Writers/Talent
"They're unlikely to read a query or want to rep up-and-coming writers. It's possible but unlikely. And this is about focusing on the best rate of success."
Higher-level agents, managers, and producers have the luxury of working with already-established talent. Because there are so many people trying to become professional screenwriters (literally hundreds of thousands), industry insiders need to use various vetting processes to find talent. And a big part of that is through referrals from people they trust.
Your best rate of success is to go through the hundreds upon hundreds of mid-level reps that represent thousands of professional screenwriters that are making a living writing script. The point is there's a better rate of success focusing on that level. Those are the reps that are looking for new talent to develop and bring up.
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, and 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, the feature thriller Hunter’s Creed, and many Lifetime thrillers.
Follow Ken on Twitter @KenMovies