Having a good query can further or kill your career. It matters almost as much as having a good idea, as your initial query is the calling card that ensures someone will read your script. So, make sure you have a good query crafted before sending it out to managers, agents, and production companies. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Have a Great Idea
Easier said than done, right? But, seriously – have a good project. Make sure what you’re coming to the table with is solid, professional, thorough, and engaging. “Engaging” may be the most important part of this list, both in terms of your script and your pitch. So make sure you have that great idea – that thing that no one else has thought of. Go over it with trusted associates to ensure the idea is a good one – and make sure it’s not identical to every other project out there. Make yourself unique, and you’ll have a fighting chance at catching the representative or producer’s interest.
2. Get Feedback
Get feedback. You think you have a good project – but do your friends and other professionals in the field agree? Network at industry events, until you have a solid contact list of people you can turn to for advice. Really learn to trust what works and what doesn’t – and then rewrite your idea. Getting your work at its most perfect stage cannot be emphasized enough. If it’s not ready for your friends, it’s definitely not ready for a room.
Condense your query. I usually say – if you can condense your query to 1 paragraph, you’re in a good place. You should be able to present what you’re saying in a short and easily intriguing manner. If you need a few extra sentences to introduce yourself, that’s fine, but make it short and to the point. No one has all day to read query emails, so make yours an easy read (this also applies to scripts – not so much length as ease of read; the easier it is for the reader, the happier they will be).
4. Get Some Credentials
This can mean networking so you’re respected or winning or finalizing in a contest or two. Get some credentials under your belt, so people are interested in you as a writer. When you query, you’ll then be able to say “look at what I’ve already accomplished!” and make yourself easier to sell.
5. Query the Right People
Know who you’re sending your query to! You should do research to make sure the company or person is a good fit for your project. Get an overall sense of what people are looking for, and send to targeted folks – not just everyone on your email list. Keep less targeted people back for a second pass, if you don’t get bites the first time, but be cautious – no one wants to be emailed a dozen times by the same person. Keep your queries simple and not overly frequent.
6. Proofread Your Query
Just like with a script, you should take the time to proofread your query letter. Make sure you didn’t send the wrong name to the wrong person, or the wrong pitch entirely! Make sure you’ve spelled everything correctly. Don’t leave out words. You’ll be heading in the right direction if you can manage to proofread everything clearly.
7. Share Your Query
Remember when you took all that time to get to know other people in the industry? Now’s the perfect time to share with them! Get their opinion on your query email. See what they’d change or adjust, and take the advice that works best for you.
8. Keep Writing
We know so many people who stop writing the minute they have one script. That script may be “the one” for you, but it MIGHT NOT BE. Don’t stop writing! Keep building your portfolio, and you may be able to find someone perfect for your next project, if this one doesn’t work. Plus, you’ll have extra samples to show anyone you might have queried.
9. Use Social Media
We sometimes wish this wasn’t the case, but your social media footprint can make a difference to getting you in the room. Use it!
10. Don’t Quit Your Day Job
Ok, so this may seem odd, but it actually helps you to have stories and a life outside the industry while you’re trying to break in. You’ll automatically be able to draw from these experiences for your ideas, and you’ll be a more interesting person in the room. So keep that day job going, because it’ll form the backbone for your other projects down the line!
What other query advice do you love? Share with us here!