Saturday, February 14, 2009

SellAScript? Get a damn refund

As you all know I'm just cranky as hell about query services. I think they're a total rip off. A little eyeball work will elicit all the information you need about whether I (or any agent) am a good prospect.

Case in point: three emails today from people pitching scripts (as in movie or tv scripts).
Well, you don't have to go far (my site, the FPLM site, Pub Mkt, Agent Query etc) to see that scripts and screenplays are one of the very few things I don't represent. (There's a reason for that: I'm a book agent...BOOKS.)

So, I slithered over to the source of these emails and sure enough, these queriers had forked over money to have their queries sent to:

direct e-mail inboxes of 2,884 (current total) industry professionals, comprising studios, production companies and independent producers, plus 1,774 (current total) agents and managers.

And further:

Your e-query does not look like a mass e-mail and all responses are directed to your own e-mail inbox.


Your query looks exactly like all the other queries from this company:

Query - "title"

"Log Line"

Genre: Comedy

(Brief description)

I would like to submit this screenplay for your consideration and can be contacted as listed below.
Thank you.

(contact info of querier)
If you do not wish to receive further queries from, please forward this email to with "REMOVE" in the subject field.

I've gotten dozens of these despite doing the REMOVE thing.
If you want to waste my time, and your money, go right ahead. I've got those emails diverted to junk mail now and you must have money to burn.

And here's the REAL cost of using these kinds of services: you think no one wants your work when you don't get any response. The truth is no one has READ your work. One look at the format that screams query service, and it's put in the trash.

Most production companies and film companies don't consider unsolicited work.

You think you've failed when you haven't even started. That's the real cost. And honestly, it's kind of sad too. You deserve better.


SundaySoup said...

After hearing you and other agents rant about this, I wrote an article for SCBWI. Maybe it helped? Maybe not, but I too hate that writers get sucked into this trap!


Janet Reid said...

That's a good article. I particularly like the part about the query service that stressed you'd only find success if you used their advice --and you'd showed them an already successful query.

I think authors are afraid of making a mistake on their queries; so much so they think someone 'in the know' can help them avoid doing so.

Truthfully, no one, NO ONE, else can write a query letter in your own voice, and voice is the first thing we look for. Across genre, category, fiction or non, if you've got voice, we will read the query.

We overlook mistakes all the time.

clindsay said...

THAT'S what that is. I've gotten several of these lately and some are for books as well as screenplays, but the "query" is utilizing the same format. So annoying.

Tom Segerson said...

The screenplay adviser/expo/query/rewrite industry is huge. I've done the rounds, including going to Hollywood with my scripts. Lessons learned, money spent, contacts made.

The professionals I know working in the Biz said one thing, over and over. "Move to Hollywood." You have to be there to succeed. New York, Vancouver, London, etc. will also work, but Hollywood is the mountaintop.

Otherwise, you can write a book.

80% of all movies are adaptations of BOOKS!

Isaac Asimov said, "You must keep sending work out...If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success -- but only if you persist."

Same thing with queries.

pegasus358 said...

I have had the same frustrations with the SellAScript folks-- thank you for posting about this, Janet!

Margaret Yang said...

"You'll think you've failed when you haven't even started."

Amen to this! The same can be said of people who send out 2 or 5 or 10 queries and then stop, because they think they have failed.

No, no, no.

(Agents #14, 15 and 16 all wanted my book.)

Jane Smith said...

I've been getting emailed press releases from a company called Bostick Communications for some time now, all in search of reviews for self-published books.

I ask for copies of them all: but then, I have a tiny blog in which I review self-published books from the perspective of a mainstream editor (which I once was), and I count the issues I have with the writing. As soon as I reach fifteen problems I stop reading, and I record how far I read with my review.

So far, I stop reading most of the titles before I reach page ten. On a couple of books, I haven't even got past the introduction.

If the writers who submitted to me via Bostick Communications knew what my criteria were, then perhaps they wouldn't present their work to such rigorous, and public, scrutiny. If they're intent on self-publihsing, they'd be far better off researching the market themselves.

ryan field said...

I know people freak out about queries. But if they just take the time to have some fun with them, they might even enjoy writing them.