Advice for the Anxious Novice...

On one of the screenwriting forums I frequent, there was a posting from a novice screenwriter who was all knotted up with anxiety while he waited around for producers to get back to him on a script he recently submitted. I'm serious, this poor guy was a real mess! Anyway, he got a lot of good advice from others on the forum, but I felt compelled to offer my twelve cents worth of advice, which was this:

"If this is what's knotting up your guts, then maybe screenwriting isn't a game you should be playing. The fact is, this is a really crazy, disappointing, roller-coaster ride of a business. People will request your script and you'll never hear back. Never ever.

People will request your script and they'll eventually get back in touch, but they'll string you along for another couple months with 'I haven't gotten to it yet' or 'I've sent the script to an associate.'

Then you never hear back.

Then you send your script to somebody and they get back to you the next day and proclaim, 'I love your script!' Next thing you know you're meeting with this producer/agent/manager and all is right with the world. Then this person evaporates and they won't even return your calls or respond to your e-mails.

Then eventually you find some producer who loves your script, and you meet with him a few times, and he has some notes for a quick rewrite, and you implement those notes and do the rewrite, and you hand in the new draft, and the producer loves it, and there are a few more meetings with potential directors, etc. Casting suggestions are bandied about. Ideas about locations are brought up ('We can get a nice tax break if we shoot in Michigan!'). Anyway, this sort of thing goes on for a month or two or three...or longer...then one day there's a phone call...or maybe just an e-mail: 'Sorry, we have to pull the plug.' You feel like someone took a baseball bat and hit a line drive into your gut. (If you're lucky -- and if you're smart -- you managed to score some option cash out of that producer.) But hey, that's the way this scriptwriting biz goes. Get used to it. Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and get workin' on something else. In fact, you should always be working on other scripts.

If you're putting all your hopes and dreams into one or two scripts, or if you're sitting around waiting for word on the query you just sent out to 50 agents or waiting to hear back from a producer you just sent that script to...well, you're setting yourself up to go a little I-N-S-A-N-E."

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An old tip (but one worth repeating)...

I can’t tell you how many novice screenwriters get ripped off by unscrupulous scammers claiming to be lit agents, managers, etc. All I can say is it’s been going on for years and years and, even with warnings going out left and right all over Internet screenwriting forums, it’s still going on. And as the field of budding scribes grows, so does the rancid sea of scumbags looking to make a quick buck.

OK, I want you to read this next part very carefully…

If any agent, manager, or producer claims to have an interest in your script and asks you for money (i.e. reading fees, seed money, monthly maintenance fee, etc.), tell them “thanks but no thanks.”

Writers do NOT pay agents.

Writers do NOT pay managers.

Writers do NOT pay producers/production companies.

You, the writer, get paid when the agent, manager, or producer sells your script; the agent, manager, or producer gets their percentage (usually 10% for agents, 10%-15% for managers) when you get paid. End of conversation.

This also applies to so-called production companies that “love your script” but feel it’s in need of a quick rewrite…and hey, they can do it for a fee of $500 (or whatever amount). Two words here: BIG SCAM.

Once again…
Writers do NOT pay agents.
Writers do NOT pay managers.
Writers do NOT pay producers/production companies.