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Tips on How to Sell a Screenplay

written by: Kristina Dems•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/29/2010

Knowing how to sell a screenplay takes more than just charisma and business savvy. It starts with writing quality material and interacting with other people in the movie industry, especially those involved in developing screenplays.

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    Plunder of the Sun - Screenplay Writing a good screenplay and having it produced is one of the most lucrative creative professions in the world, so it is natural for many people to try it at least once. If you think you have the right set of skills to write a great screenplay, you should also be savvy in selling it. Here are some tips on how to sell a screenplay

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    Write a Quality Screenplay

    The first important step in selling a screenplay is having a quality screenplay. Write the best screenplay that you can and after you have convinced yourself that it is of high quality, able to meet most people's standards, write a couple more. This will not only hone your writing skills, this will also ensure that you have more than one quality screenplay at your disposal. Your first screenplay may not be your best, and usually, it is not. Writing a lot and often will develop your skills. Even if your first few ones are not up to par with producers' tastes, you are still ensuring yourself that your future screenplay will be of higher quality thanks to your constant writing practices.

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    Read Other People's Screenplays

    Once you have a few screenplays ready to be sold, make sure that they are up to industry standards. One way to do this is to read other people's screenplays. Compare the quality of those works to yours to make sure that your screenplay is up to the standards that most producers are going for. Interacting with other screenplay writers will give you insight on your screenplay's quality, leading you to make changes or gaining confidence that you are indeed ready to sell your work.

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    Find People Who Can Make Your Movie

    Once your are confident with your screenplay's quality, your first task is to find the right people to sell it to. Obviously, you will be looking for producers who are already experienced in making movies. Some producers are actually actively looking for screenplays from unproduced writers. You can scour the web for listings or you can read entertainment publications like Daily Variety and The Hollywood Reporter. They often have listings of producers and film directors looking for original and fresh screenplays.

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    Get Attention

    You can go directly to producers and pitch your screenplay, or you can prove to the entire movie industry that your screenplay has legs. You can do this by producing your own movie. This would be a challenge if you do not have enough money, but there are a lot of potential investors out there to help support independent movie producers. You can even ask friends or family members to invest in your movie. The goal of this practice is to show people that your screenplay works. It will also bring attention to you. A ready-made movie will gain you more attention than simply bringing your screenplay to a producer's office.

    Not all techniques on how to sell a screenplay are the same for everyone. Some people are more comfortable in contacting producers directly while others prefer to use snail mail or email. Success in selling a screenplay varies depending on the method used, the people selling them and the screenplay quality. The best way to determine the best way for you is to try several techniques. Do everything initially then focus on the method that works for your best.

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    Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons / Supplied by Wayne-Fellows Productions