Selling a Spec Screenplay

January 11th, 2012 by Ron
 The Script Blogger
Selling a Spec Screenplay by an unknown writer is probably one of the hardest things in the universe to do and yet over one hundred thousand specs scripts are registered each year.

That means on any given Sunday there are about seven hundred thousand spec screenplays in circulation, if it takes on average seven years for a successful spec screenplay to be picked up. 

That doesn’t mean there are seven hundred thousand writers out there hoping to find the yellow brick road because many writers have more than one spec screenplay in circulation, but it does mean there are probably four to five hundred thousand writers out there in the wildness.

The big question all spec screenwriters should ask themselves is why should my screenplay be picked up. What does it offer that other screenplays do not?

And that is harder to answer than you think because as the writer of your own work you are biased towards your own story.  Very few of us can recognize our own failings or see mistakes that are often obvious to other writers, and certainly those with more experience, than ourselves.

However all is not lost. Most people recognize that the secret of a good screenplay is a great, outstandingly original story.

Certainly attention to details such as formatting, spelling, punctuation, grammar, dialogue, overall presentation, showing not telling and structure helps. As does having a network of people to send your finished masterpiece to.

But at the core of a great screenplay is the story.

Now you can check your story out for free and possibly earn money in the process by writing your screenplay as a novelette and posting it on Kindle or Smashwords as an “eBOOK”.

Surprisingly this concept has a hidden bonus, if your story is truly amazing and is successful as an eBook it may attract an offer for the film rights, which you as the originator of the story own.

I’ve started doing this myself and have, in just a few days sold copies of my novelette versions of my spec screenplays, ‘Friends of my Enemies’ and ‘Missing Presumed Dead’. Over the coming months I will convert all of my spec screenplays to eBooks.

 

9 responses to “Selling a Spec Screenplay”

  1. hermes france says:

    Your article Ron Aberdeen » Selling a Spec Screenplay writen very well, thank you for sharing!

  2. Ron says:

    Build a network of filmmakers in the country you live. Hollywood is not the only place where films are made. If you are any good gradually people will see your work and get to know you and that could include people in LA.

    Ron

  3. Gopal says:

    Hello sir,

    I am a filmmaker from a different country. I write, direct and produce. My tryst with the films started about 7 years ago, when my first screenplay (written for Hollywood) was optioned by a UK based producer. The project developed further with the attaching of a well known Hollywood horror director. However, the recession that followed in 2007/8 killed the project.

    I must admit that being my first screenplay, there were quite a few flaws which I could have fixed.

    Nonetheless, now I have about 3 good, ready screenplays (based on the unbiased opinion unconnected readers) of which 2 are for Hollywood type of films.

    Now, here’s my problem. I don’t live in USA and hence I cannot approach the right people. I don’t have an agent. Many agents (from UK and Canada) ask me to send the screenplay (because they have liked the logline) only if I am a citizen of UK or Canada.

    With this problem, I would request you to suggest me various ways to get my screenplays to the right people.

    Any positive input will be appreciated.

    Thank you.
    Gopal

  4. Tyler Caless says:

    “Looking at all of the screenplays considered for an Oscar, both last year and this, I noticed not one had a drawing included.”

    And what about all the scripts not nominated for an Oscar? Did you check those as well?

    “It is true that many professional screenwriters, mostly those with a track record, include visual images along with their pitches, but they are presented separately, either as a ‘PowerPoint presentation or series of sketches, but not as something that is included in the script.”

    This is strictly an old-school way of thinking. Things change, technology changes, the way we pass information changes. Be willing to adapt, or you may get left behind.

    “Still, if you get further than just having a manager, you know, like having an agent or a produced project, perhaps you will share your success with writers who still consider such actions, amateurish, juvenile and naïve.”

    Yeah, I have a very successful manager that works for a well known company. The company represents many writers that have produced projects. That’s why I contacted them in the first place.

    What you consider amateurish, juvenile, or naive is really you just being out of touch.

    “Wishing you luck in leading from the front, which is often the actions of a born leader or a born idiot.”

    First of all, you don’t wish me luck. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. Second, being a follower (which you clearly are) gives you zero chance of finishing in first place.

    Tyler, I do wish you luck because with your blinkered approach to screenwriting you are going need all the luck you can get. And yes, I’m so out of touch that Universal Pictures have just brought in to one of my scripts. With regard to the screenplays being considered for an Oscar, if they had not been nominated they would not be ‘being considered’and the pitches I was referring to were for recent movies, like the Pirates of the Caribbean, Twilight, Harry Potter, so not that ‘old school’. You are correct in stating that I am a follower, in that I follow the path walked before by many respected and establish screenwriters and if you can find a new and different route to success, well done you.

  5. Tyler Caless says:

    Ron,

    A few years ago on the IMDB message boards I asked a question about including a drawing, basically a small diagram, inside my script. I wasn’t asking if I should do it. I wanted to know how to actually accomplish that within Final Draft. Many people on the site gave me advice, or admitted they didn’t know how to do that. But you mocked me and the idea, saying I was an amateur, that it was a stupid question, and if I didn’t grow up and learn to play by the industry standards I would never achieve success.

    Well, I eventually learned how to do it, submitted the script a few drafts later, and because of that script I now have a very successful manager. He never once said to me to lose the drawing in the script.

    In fact, the practice has now become quite common and I can’t imagine anybody that is worth a damn in this industry throwing a script out because it has a drawing in it. As long as the script is excellent, and the drawing is well done (don’t do it by hand) nobody worth a damn will care.

    Remember, leaders lead from the front. They don’t wait for trends, they start them.

    Thanks for the bad advice, I’m glad I ignored you.

    Looking at all of the screenplays considered for an Oscar, both last year and this, I noticed not one had a drawing included.

    It is true that many professional screenwriters, mostly those with a track record, include visual images along with their pitches, but they are presented separately, either as a ‘PowerPoint presentation or series of sketches, but not as something that is included in the script.

    Still, if you get further than just having a manager, you know, like having an agent or a produced project, perhaps you will share your success with writers who still consider such actions, amateurish, juvenile and naïve.

    Wishing you luck in leading from the front, which is often the actions of a born leader or a born idiot.

  6. Hi Ron,

    I wish all writers would read your blog, you should mention that over 125,000 scripts are registered with The WGA and tens of thousands that don’t bother to register.
    I have a writer, who after two months can’t believe i haven’t sold his screenplay…what most new writers don’t know that after writing a heartfelt script, the other harder part is reaching the decision makers.
    Fortunately for me, I can reach them all, however that just means they will read, as Shakespeare said over 500 years ago, “The Plays The Thing” This is why my business model is unique, and not always popular with writers who want you to read their script, then they say thanks, and move on…….this is why my business model makes sense for me…..First the writer has to tell me he has a passion for his story, and is committed.
    Then I tell them how i work…….The last movie I sold was several years ago, The Nuremberg Secrets Roach Productions in Paris, France, it took me two years to sell it, I went to jeffrey katzenberg, (I sold him my first script, that I optioned, it had 10 rewrites, over eight years and was never made……
    Selling a screen play is difficult, or to use a tech term it’s a mother fucker

    Very good job about how tough it is to sell a spec script.

    Best,

    Eddie Kritzer

  7. Weyer says:

    Your site has inspired me to really rethink the way I blog. I have to tell you I appreciate all your hard work.

  8. Mark Gilvary says:

    Hello!

    That’s A Great Idea Ron.

    I Hope That You Had A Pleasant Christmas & New Year.

    I Wish You All The Best for 2012!

    Best Regards,

    Mark

    Mark Gilvary

    ***********************************************

  9. Levitra says:

    I really like what you’re posting here. Keep posting that way. Take care!