Writing query letters to agents or managers is a simple process that seems to confuse people and may often be mishandled in such a manner that the writer ends up losing an opportunity for their screenplay to be read.
Lately, I've been getting a string of very strange and poorly composed queries. Remember, you only have one chance to make a first impression. If you can't get this bit right, I'm unlikely to respond to your query and certainly won't take you on as a client. You see, to me, an important part of wanting to be in the entertainment industry is understanding the entertainment industry.
I believe it’s part of your responsibility in your education as a writer, a producer or a whatever, to know the business and part of that is how to approach representation. This is a personal business and you have to be able to speak to people, follow protocol and get it right the first time. Here is a WRONG WAY:
LOGLINE: When the H.S. kids in Mr. Roberts' British Lit. class discover that their beloved teacher is smitten by famed British actress Sandra Davies, they write with him her "irresistible" movie so he (and they, too) can actually meet her.
SYNOPSIS: As Sandra's movie crystallizes to life, the team soon writes Mr. Roberts (and the kids) roles in her escapades. And the youngsters soon catch Mr. Roberts' mania, Sandra coming to symbolize too, what's missing in their own lives. But the grownups in Utopia High don't quite empathize with Mr. R's "loony" movie - and oh, no!... the "evil" principal fires the "pied piper" for entrancing the kids with his "pipe dream". (and on and on and on).
Let me know if I can forward my script for your consideration.
Where to begin? Firstly, I am not interested in being a part of a mass email. If you are interested in a specific representative reading your material, you should attempt to make a personal connection with them. Let me know how you came to find me, make some niceties. Address me personally. Also, the synopsis itself is terribly written, not a good precursor for the quality of the script. And, there’s too much information. All I really need is a logline: one sentence clearly explaining the screenplay and the genre. This will help me determine whether or not it fits in with what I'm looking for.
Keep it short and sweet. Even if you have to send out 100 emails, do it individually. I have no idea where this run of queries came from but if it was taught in a class, each and every person should get their money back.
Now for ONE THAT WORKED:
I enjoyed your article, “Advice From a Hollywood Agent.” And you are right -- everyone in Hollywood does have a screenplay, including me. It's a baseball drama entitled XXXXXX.
XXXXXX: short logline
I've worked in development, documentary TV and advertising. My first novel, XXXXX, is being published next year I was the Grand Prize Winner of the Short Film Group's First Annual Short Script Contest XXXXX and won Second Place in the 2006 American Accolades Screenplay Competition XXXXX. If something in this email resonates and you'd like to give XXXXXX a read, let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Straightforward, personal and gives me information about him and his past. Shows personality and good humor. Granted, it helps if you've had something happen in the business before even if it didn't get sold but it doesn't mean I won't look if you haven't. Write a letter that pitches me a script of interest and tells me a little something about yourself that intrigues me and makes me think I might be able to sell you if your material is good.
I know it's hard out there. I know the first step is the hardest. Take it. Someone will respond and get the ball rolling. It may take a while. You have to find the right representation for you and your work. Not just anyone will do.
Just keep writing. Talk to writers, hang out with them, go to networking events and take chances. I get queries all the time from people who have never had a Hollywood contact, are writing their first screenplay or pilot and need the break. I don't know where the diamond is. It may be with you. If the project is interesting, I'll read it. Just write it properly so you don't miss your chance.