I hope everyone is coping well, and finding a way to get outside for a little sunshine and fresh air!
I’m also currently working with students who are writing screenplays, novels, TV and nonfiction books. My students are successful in each of these areas, and the reasons why are simple. Some we can control, like hard work, self-discipline, and perseverance. Some we can’t, and those include talent, timing, contacts and luck.
There’s an old saying, “I’d rather be lucky than good. “The truth of the matter is, we want to be both good and lucky.
To succeed, we must accept certain realities:
1.Unless you’re a known quantity, or have the right connections, the hardest work you will do will be getting someone to read your material objectively and with an eye towards saying yes. The key to success is not to take rejection personally. Just say, “next,” and find the next opportunity.
2. Most successful writers have horror stories about how many attempts they made before their work was recognized. In this area, you can control one thing: your own persistence.
3. The first step towards success getting someone who can say yes to read your book or script. It’s the logline that will get the interest from the producer. Create a short, evocative logline for your story before you go further. For example, the logline of my new novel is: When a 12-year old girl is bullied at school and at home, it’s a matter of life and death, and she must save herself.
4. You can control the way that you present your material, broaden your understanding of the marketplace, and find ways to make those all-important connections.
One of my books, How to Sell Your Screenplay in 30 Days, contains a 30-day marketing plan that will help you get organized. Having a plan and following it will help you sell your work in any arena.
5. When you find the right reader, your work must be excellent, and grab the reader immediately – on the first page at the latest! (The title is also critical.) While you can’t control whether a producer will “like” your work, if the story is memorable, a decision won’t be based on whether what you’ve written is “good,” but rather, if it fits what the producers are looking for. You can build relationships and get work on other projects if your talent can be seen!
The most important thing steps are:
1.”Finish” the story. Give it to three readers who will tell you the truth.
2. Only make changes if two of the readers make the same suggestion.
3. Hire a professional to assess structure, etc.
4. Hire someone to proof and correct format if it’s a script, or copy edit if it’s a book.
5. Identify prospective producers and publishers.
6. Write a query or submission letter or email using the producer’s guidelines.
7. Numbers count – identify as many potential producers or publishers.
8. Send them your query letter.
9. Follow up.
10. Start your new project.
After three to four weeks, follow up. If you have no bites, go to the next round. If you’ve gotten notes from more than one source, tweak the work, and send out the next set of queries.
Most important: NEVER GIVE UP!!!
Here are a few photos from where I’m working in Fire Island. I definitely feel I’m doing better work in a safe, beautiful, quiet space.
Here’s to your successful writing,
Professor Marilyn Horowitz