There was a time not too long ago when the idea of selling a screenplay online was unthinkable. One of the biggest concerns was that someone would steal your material. If you had no agent, cold calls and query letters were the primary tools used to offer a script for consideration to filmmakers.
That was then, this is now and the services offered today to help you sell a script without even stepping away from your computer, are many. The threat of someone stealing your work will always be present to some extent, but if your script is registered with WGA or copyrighted, the chances of that are slim.
Although online marketing of your screenplay may offer you a wider audience, there are no guarantees that any service you pay for will result in a sale. What they do promise is exposure. There are lots of testimonials from writers who have had success with these services as well as those who were unhappy. While some services offer testimonials, they don’t always provide the name of the writer. And when they announce successful deals, they don’t always include the writer, script title, or buyer. It’s rare to find a site that does. Unfortunately, when that information is missing it does raise some question as to the authenticity of the testimonial or the deal. Here are three versions of services and a description of how they work.
These services mail your query letter to producers, agents, and managers. Interestingly, the letters are not requested by these people, they are submitted by the service. So are these submissions considered unsolicited, or SPAM? It’s not clear how this works as your query letter is forwarded for you and recipients respond directly to you, not to the service. But it’s doubtful that these sites would be able to remain in service if producers and agents did not have some agreement stating they are open to receiving submissions. You will usually find several different options for listing with this kind of company. With ScriptBlaster various packages can run from around $60 - $130 and include services to critique and improve your query letter.
With this type of arrangement, the service critiques your script for a fee, giving it a “pass”, “consider”, or “recommend”. With a recommend, the script is sent out to their producer contacts. Other services list your script on their website where it can be viewed by industry professionals, rather than contacting them individually.
If your script doesn’t make the cut you get a critique that will help you with a rewrite. Although respected in the filmmaking community and mentioned by seasoned gurus like Sid Field, ScriptShark doesn’t list script sales information. All their testimonials focus on their helpful critiques and that’s logical because their many services lean heavily on making your script more saleable. ScriptShark charges $300 for story notes. They also list other offerings which are more and less expensive.
A service of this type could be called a middleman. They will list your script, synopsis, and logline on their site for a fee. Entertainment industry pros also pay a membership fee to access the material on the site. Additional products and services are offered as well.
With a service like Inktip, you’ll find complete visibility. Writers get to see the names of the people and companies who view their work. Professionals who are interested, will usually request your script (rather than print it out) through Inktip and you will receive an email from them. Inktip has an excellent reputation. Their legitimacy is unquestionable as they post information about deals resulting from their service and include the writer’s name, the script name, and the name of the professional who made an offer.
There are many ways to market a script. Here are just a few more options:
Benderspink.com – Management/producton company open to online pitches.
Pitchonline - Real time meetings with producers online. You get to pitch them while sitting at your computer. Requires a webcam.
Virtualpitchfest.com – Their tagline says “Pitch in your pajamas!” No face-to-face here. You work on a template connected to their site, adding your pitch, and selecting contacts to whom it should be sent. You are guaranteed a response within five days. Their list of participating industry pros are impressive.
Creative Screenwriting Magazine - For a small fee you can download a list of agents and producers who are open to your unsolicited online submissions.
Script marketing services are a business and their goal, understandably, is to make money. Compare prices and reputations to determine if one of them is right for you and your script project. If you are ever approached by an agent or manager who offers to sell your script and asks for an upfront fee, run for the hills!
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