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Screenplay Submissions 101: How to Submit a Screenplay Like a Pro

5 Steps to Getting Your Script Into the Right Hands

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by Script Reader Pro in How to Sell a Screenplay
November 2, 2015 19 comments
screenplay submissions

Screenplay Submissions 101: How to Submit a Screenplay Like a Pro

So you’ve written a great script… Now what? To many aspiring screenwriters, figuring out what to do with a screenplay once its finished is even more difficult than writing the thing in the first place.

Maybe you’ve just finished a screenplay but have never tried submitting it to a manager or producer? Or maybe you’ve already tried submitting your script, but haven’t had the response you were hoping for?

Let’s talk screenplay submissions: a 5-step strategy including the best insider tips on how to submit a screenplay to the right places. And at the right time, once your script is finished.

Step #1: Make Sure Your Script Is 100% Ready

Before you start any script submissions strategy, it’s vital the screenplay itself has been thoroughly vetted. This means by someone you trust for solid, unbiased feedback.

Get together a circle of trusted writer/industry friends and give it to them. The trick with this is to make sure you let them know you want their honest opinion. You don’t want them to just say nice things because they’re your friends.

If you don’t have friends in the industry, or you want independent advice, you should consider hiring a professional script consultant. If you then get a “Consider” or “Recommend” grade on your script, you’ll know you’re onto something.

A “Pass” grade means your screenplay will need tightening up before it’s ready to send out. Any reputable script doctor/consultant will tell you how to do this.

A third way you know your script’s ready to submit, is if it wins or places highly in one of the best screenwriting contests out there. Overall, if you don’t get stellar feedback on the screenplay—if any page is less than breathtaking—you need to rewrite it.

However, once you are 100 percent sure you have something wonderful on your hands, then you’re good to go to Step #2 of the script submissions process.

Step #2: Build a Screenplay Submissions Contact List

When you’re first looking for a manager, compile an extensive list of the people or entities you feel your script would be perfect for and want to target. A great starting point is our Screenwriting Managers List that lists all the major ones working in Hollywood today.

But do your research first. You can also find out the names of producers and managers on IMDb Pro who work with similar material to your own as they’re the people most likely to dig your script.

You can also attend pitch fests, festivals and events where real producers, execs and managers are in attendance. You can keep track of them all this year using our Screenwriters’ Calendar.

Get friendly with these people (but not in an overly schmoozy way) and you’ll soon start adding real and promising contacts to your screenplay submissions list.

Screenplay Submissions

Step #3: Prepare Your Pitch 

When you have a script ready to send out and a list of potential managers and producers interested in reading it, you don’t want to hit them all up all at once.

Send about twenty queries every few days and change up the email query here and there according to the responses you get. But first, you need to write a query letter/email that gets attention…

In a query letter, you want to be as creative as possible in order to make people sit up and take notice.

Think of the email as an elevator pitch—you’ve got a matter of seconds to impress and that’s it.

Make sure your query letter is written in the voice and tone of your screenplay. This will make it stand out over the thousands of script submissions already coming in alongside yours.

Phone calls can work too if you have that certain type of personality that’s going to leave a great impression. Calling to ask who you should submit a query to—and making a connection with that first point of contact in the office—is never a bad thing.

Step #4: Get Your Timing Right

Some days are better for screenplay submissions than others. First up, Mondays, when people are overloaded with a weekend’s worth of emails, are best avoided.

Friday afternoons are also a no-go when people are already done for the week. And by the time they get to second-hand stuff on Tuesday, it will be so far down their list they might not even see it.

Holidays are also not a great time to query either. Hollywood shuts down on holidays, so that means most of July and December. And January is also a slow crawl.

The best time for screenplay submissions is midweek. If it’s a great enough query it may have them request the script for that weekend’s reading. Getting the timing right is a major part of learning how to submit a screenplay.

Step #5: Be Patient

This is the most important step to remember if you have had a script request: Write a very respectful reply and thank them for their time,  saying you look forward to hearing back from them. And then forget about them. For now.

If a month goes by (and often it’s a good idea to wait even longer), then feel free to check in with a friendly, respectful and professional email. But, in the meantime, keep writing, pitching and concentrate on what we call the 3P Principle:

♦  Process. Respect the process of screenplay submissions and the time of those reading your work.

♦  Patience. Be patient with these people and with the epic piles of screenplays they have to go through on a weekly basis.

♦  Personal. Leave your personal feelings at the door and don’t get offended by non-replies or evasive behavior.

If you can keep these three principles in mind, you will have a much easier time as you work your way through your screenplay submission process.

Screenplay Submissions 101: Conclusion

As we’re sure you’ve heard before, the screenwriters who succeed in this business are the ones who hustle. They’re the ones who’ve sent a ton of emails, worked connections, met people face-to-face, and generally put themselves out there.

Moving to Los Angeles is a great idea as then you’ll be around people who can help make things happen for you on a daily basis.

If you want to start your career from outside of LA it’s going to be harder to meet people in the industry face-to-face at the beginning of your career.

Nevertheless, you can still use online tools such as virtual screenwriting pitch sites to communicate and network with industry pros.

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How do you go about submitting your scripts to the world? What do you think of our screenplay submissions strategy? Let us know in the comments below.

screenplay submissions

Liked This Post? Read More on Screenplay Submissions and How to Sell a Screenplay…

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19 Comments
  1. Sarah Gabrielle Baron says:

    Gee, I thought I could just float around in the nebula of obscurity and wait for the Universe to bring producers to me…. No, I’m still on Step 1 of the process. When will my babies be ready!?! Ah well. It’s not as painful as childbirth, just takes longer, and is easier to ignore when they don’t do what you want.

    1. Keep at it Sarah! They’ll be ready soon enough 🙂

  2. Dave S says:

    Enjoyable read. Great insights. Glad you mentioned Stage 32. I met a manager on there and he was kind enough to read my work and give me notes. The relationship built from there and now he’s my manager. I’m also working with a producer I met there on a short I wrote.

    1. Thanks Dave. Yep, Stage32 can be really useful for making connections — sounds like you’re onto a winner 🙂

  3. Jack Brewer says:

    Great post thanks for this Script reader pro.

  4. Amir says:

    Hi
    I’m a writer from Middle East and I want to pitch my screenplay to Holy wood producers but my only way is online submitting sites. could you help me and give me a list of free submitting sites? (dollar is very expencive in my country and I can’t afford monthly payments of the sites)
    thanks (:

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Hi Amir – check out this post: https://www.scriptreaderpro.com/screenwriting-pitch-sites/

  5. Charles Frankhauser says:

    Thanks – good advice. I appreciate the complexities so went a different route. Adapted Amazon novel, Atlantic City Nazi, to feature-length treatment & script and published it on Amazon under title, RC and RUBY Screenplay. People enjoy reading script, I own rights, and that’s enough for me. Best regards, Charles

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the comment Charles, and best of luck with your script.

  6. Billy Fourie says:

    Thanks for the information. It certianly makes so much sense. Had 3 requestes for my script and ………. well its been a while so PATIENCE is key I realise from your post. I’m not the screenplay writer, but its my life story so I have to do all the work to get it read and produced. This is something I enjoy doing though, once again thanks for the information.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the comment, Billy, and good luck with the script.

  7. Tammy says:

    Without doubt the best screenwriting site I’ve seen. Thanks for providing us aspiring writers with a vision of what could be!

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      You’re welcome, Tammy. Best of luck to you.

  8. Jesse Gibson says:

    Does this work for pitching television series pilots as well?

  9. Ferdinand says:

    You made a number of fine points about screenplay submissions but missed one important fact: no one is going to read your script unless you have an agent.

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      Thanks for the comment, Ferdinand but that’s not exactly true. You can most definitely get your script read without an agent.

  10. Mapfaka Norman says:

    Difference between Action Comedy Drama Horror and Thriller movie scripts please.

  11. Duane Kinnnard says:

    When sending a treatment do you send it as an attachment, or copy paste

    1. Script Reader Pro says:

      It’s always best to ask for a submissions policy first.

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