Jeanne’s Screenwriting Tips: Selling a Screenplay

If I had a dime for every time someone emailed me asking, “How do I sell my screenplay?” I’d be so wealthy I wouldn’t even need to sell my own scripts. I wrote a whole article going into the magic trick to selling your screenplay, so let’s talk about something else today — the one thing that could keep you from ever selling a screenplay.

Your attitude.

That’s right. My screenwriting tip today is not about putting prose on the page, writing a query letter, or creating characters. The most overlooked ingredient of success is one’s own character.

When you sit down to pitch an executive, you are selling yourself as much as you are your project. Be someone people want to be around. After all, it can take years to go through script development with a producer. If you’re difficult to work with, cling to your darlings like they’re a life raft on the Titanic, or don’t listen to notes objectively, you’ll be fired faster than Charlie Sheen can yell, “WINNER!” But you won’t be winning at all. You’ll be fighting for writing credit with the cooperative, positive-attitude writer who replaces you.

#PIMPtipoftheday: Don’t suck.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’re familiar with my #PIMPtipoftheday tweets (I’m known as the resident “Twitter Pimp” because I help promote my friends and information I find helpful). Well, the one above, I give often, but people still seem to miss the point.

Here’s the translation:

  • Don’t be mean.
  • Don’t take people for granted.
  • Respect a person who is trying to help you, even if you don’t agree with their advice.
  • Don’t be condescending. You might not be as smart as you think you are.
  • I don’t care if you’re famous or not, you still have wounds, just like the rest of us.
  • Look at yourself honestly… cracks and all.
  • Pay it forward. Making other people happy will bring fulfillment you never realized.
  • Don’t talk behind people’s backs.
  • Be real. Always.
  • Be kind.

But “Dont suck” is a much shorter way of saying all that, especially with the 140-character limit of Twitter.

In honor of the very first Jeanne’s Tuesday Screenwriting Tips, I’ll throw in one more tip:

#PIMPtipoftheday: Believe.

If you don’t believe in yourself, no one will. It’s the single most important tip I could possibly give any artist in this seemingly impossible industry.

Now go do something that makes you happy so you bring a smile to the table the next time you pitch.

If you have topics you’d like me to give tips on, add them to the comments below. I’ll be writing weekly tips to help us all learn, myself included.

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