Marketing is another key ingredient in becoming a professional screenwriter. Below is a brief list of skills I consider crucial for any writer to develop.
First and foremost, know your audience. When you are writing your screenplay, try to imagine yourself in the theater showing your movie. Do you like it? Are some parts better than others? Many genres, like horror, have serious die-hard followers. Visit a trade show and read their blogs. It’s a great way to learn how your screenplay will be received when it enters the marketplace.
The next thing is to make yourself acquainted with what a particular agent or producer is looking for. These professionals deal with the marketplace on a daily basis. They’re survival hinges on knowing what’s hot out there—and what’s not. So, try to be receptive to their screenplay notes and comments. This can be difficult at times, but remember that their words are not intended to hurt or diminish your work. They’re just doing their best to exist within their particular marketplace. So, if they ask you to come up with treatments and ideas for other stories, do it! Building a relationship in this way will give them the confidence to sell you and your work that much harder.
Next, learn how to promote your project. This does not mean coming off like a used-car salesman. That would be a turnoff. What is effective, however, is for you to be sure that you have written the best script you can and that you have done enough research and preparation to stand by it with confidence. This way, when you are asked about your project, you can answer intelligently and in a way that serves you.
Finally—and this is perhaps the hardest thing for writers—is to network. This includes using social media as well as getting yourself into conferences with producers and agents, and in general attending events where industry people are present. Don’t be shy. Engage them! This may require more confidence and perseverance than writing your screenplay did, but it is a critical aspect of the work—even after you get an agent.
So, even though you worked for years on your script and have proudly typed FADE OUT, remember that more work awaits, and that basic marketing skills are essential to seeing you project through to the big screen.