You've finished your screenplay, and by finished, I mean finished. You've written, you've rewritten, you've edited, and now you're interested in selling it. How in the heck do you do that?! Today, I've got your how-to guide to selling your screenplay.
Get a manager or an agent
Managers help develop a writer. They provide feedback that will strengthen your scripts, help you to build your network, and keep your name top of mind with other industry professionals. Managers may even help you find an agent they believe will be able to sell your screenplay.
Agents are interested in writers whose scripts are ready for sale. Agents are all about making deals between a writer and a production company, producer, or studio.
When you feel like your script is ready for sale, and you have other strong, impressive, and marketable works in your portfolio, that is the time to consider getting an agent. Find out how to find an agent using the IMDb Pro method, or use this method from screenwriter, game writer, and novelist Michael Stackpole.
Of course, there's always the non-agent route, which is how screenwriter Adam G. Simon made his break into the film industry.
To be able to network most effectively, you should consider either moving to Los Angeles or perhaps another film hub closer to you. Being in Los Angeles allows for the most networking opportunities. You'll be able to take meetings in person, attend film festivals, or become part of a writing group. Just living in Los Angeles makes it much easier to meet industry people who can help you turn your dream of selling your screenplay into a reality. But, if you don't live in Los Angeles, there are plenty of online groups and film festivals around the globe that you can tap into. Want to know the secret to becoming an expert networker? Take this advice from filmmaker Leon Chambers, or this advice from Disney writer Ricky Roxburgh on what to avoid when networking.
Who to Meet
You'll want to get yourself in front of producers, executives, and just about anyone who will read your script. You need to put yourself out there, and you never know who will be able to help.
A producer will help find financing for your project, aid in the logistics of the film industry, and be a champion for your story. A development executive is also someone to keep an eye out for. Development execs work to develop a screenplay and get it ready to convince their studio to back it.
Your goal should be trying to find like-minded industry folk who have worked on projects in the same wheelhouse as your script.
Screenplay Hosting Websites and Competitions
Screenplay hosting websites like The Black List or InkTip allow writers to post their screenplays for industry executives to see. This kind of site can be incredibly helpful for writers to get exposure, especially when the writers are not living in a film hub. The Black List's annual list has resulted in the sale and production of many screenplays, including from some otherwise unknown screenwriters. InkTip, on average, has 30 scripts a year produced from their website. Many writers have also been discovered on these websites, earning representation, if not a sale.
Winning an acclaimed screenwriting competition can get your script out there and in front of the right industry people, putting you on a path to selling your script. Some of the more prestigious competitions include the Austin Film Festival, The Academy Nicholl Fellowships, and PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. Of course, there are other places to submit your screenplay, which we've outlined in this blog.
There's no one clear path to selling a screenplay. Every screenwriter has a unique journey and different experiences when it comes to breaking into the industry and selling a script. Doing some of the things I've mentioned above can help set you on the right path to selling a script, but the best advice that I can give you is to hang in there. Stay persistent, keep writing and working on more scripts, and be ready to seize an opportunity when you come across it. Happy writing (and selling)!