Your query letter is crucial to your success as a scriptwriter. It doesn’t matter how dynamic your script is if you can’t convince anyone to read it. In the space of one page you want to make the agents of the world salivate at the prospect of reading your script. Keep your letter to the point and intriguing, you want the agent to know quickly that they’re dealing with a great screenplay.
You will want to include:
Why you’re writing – You’re writing because you’ve just finished your most recent script (never mention if it’s your first) and are now looking for representation.
Category/Genre – Is your script a feature length film, or the pilot for a new sitcom? Is it a comedy, love story, war epic, etc? Here you will want to include the logline of your story. You want your logline to be inventive and dynamic enough for the agent to ask you to send a copy of your script. You will tell the basic premise of your script in a single sentence or two which makes your script sound as fresh and interesting as possible.
Story Summary – This should be a paragraph or two on about the story of your script. It is a brief account of what happens in your script.
Your Background and Achievements – If you’ve written your script based on a personal experience then let the agent know that. Even if your story is related to a hobby of yours, this shows a personal knowledge and passion. If you’ve ever won any scriptwriting or filmmaking competitions you certainly want to add that here.
Don’t include a full CV as the majority of the information will be irrelevant and make you look amateurish. You can send your query letter to as many agents as you want. I recommend between 5-10 at a time, this gives you a wide reach without making it difficult to keep track of exactly who you’ve sent your query letter to.
You can make the agent’s life easier by including two self-addressed postcards. One postcard with “Please send script” and one with “Don’t send script”. If you receive the postcard which asks you to send the script include it in the package with your script to remind the agent.
If you don’t hear anything from a agent in a couple of weeks you can assume that they aren’t interested. Don’t expect a letter of recognition for sending a query letter.
If one of you strengths is phone sales then you might prefer to call an agent direct rather than right them a letter. Have a couple of cue cards by you and give them the pitch. You will find out right away if they’re interested or not, and if they are, who to send your script to. If you’re talking to a receptionist offer to send them your script to read. Most of them will be agents in training who will be looking to make their own mark.
After an agent has received your query letter you may get a phone call asking for an exclusive period in which to review your script. This period of time is normally only a few days and is worth agreeing to, but make sure they don’t keep trying to extend the period. Your time is money too.