July 3rd, 2009
For a writer, dealing with an executive is often a bit more like dating than business. And in a courtship, sometimes less is more. And much like in dating, making the wrong move at the wrong time, or sending the wrong message, can often end a relationship prematurely. One of the biggest concerns of writers – and understandably one of their biggest frustrations – is what to do after they’ve actually submitted their script. You’ve gotten the okay to send the script, you’ve made sure it’s professional and ready, and you’ve sent it with a lovely cover letter. And now…you wait. Sound familiar?
How long do you wait? Do you make contact first? Is there a three week rule the same way there’s a three day rule before calling a girl back? The honest answer is – in general, you wait until they get back to you. But this all depends on the situation. If you are represented, you should have your agent or manager get in touch with the exec in about 2-3 weeks time. If you are unrepresented but had an actual in-person meeting with the exec, during which they gave you his or her card, then you should follow up yourself in about three weeks time. If the exec promised to get back to you in a couple of days, then maybe follow up in two weeks instead of three. If your submission resulted from a pitchfest or cold query, then I would probably wait about a month to contact the exec you sent the script to.
So, let’s say hypothetically, you met with an exec, but you’re not represented. It’s been three weeks and they have not gotten back to you (and by the way, holidays are not counted in that time so if you submitted your script the Monday of Thanksgiving week – don’t even bother counting it). What should you do? Write them a very short and sweet email with the subject line being your script’s title and maybe something quick like “Checking in.” And in the email, all you need is one succinct and respectful line that goes something like:
“Dear So and So,
Just wanted to drop you a line and see if you’ve had a chance to read “my script.” I look forward to your thoughts.
That’s it. Do NOT point out that you submitted it over a month ago. Do not point out that the exec had promised to get back to you in a week or two. Do NOT reiterate what your story was, how great it is, or how perfect it would be for their company. You already made your pitch – that’s why they’re reading the script. All you need to do is gently remind them that they haven’t responded yet, and that one line will do that.
Here’s what NOT to do:
“Dear So and So,
I submitted my script “Called This” over a month ago and I haven’t heard back from you yet. You had given me your card and thought it was a great pitch. I really think that “Called This” is the perfect script for you. It’s incredibly original with great characters and blah blah blah. I hope you get back to me soon.
Writing something like this shows a lack of professionalism and tact and your script will probably be tossed in the pass pile. And even more important than not writing something like this, is not writing more than ONE follow up email. So, keep it short, sweet and professional…and then wait. Patience is a virtue. Execs read anywhere from seven to 25 scripts a week so you just don’t know if you’ve caught them on a busy week or not. Don’t think that just because he hasn’t gotten back to you, that he’s not interested or didn’t like your writing. Now if it’s been over three months, then chances are your writing was so bad that the exec didn’t feel he needed to waste time responding, but don’t get paranoid if it’s only been a few weeks.
Getting a second “date” with an exec isn’t hard – you just have to make a good first impression.
And maybe wear something low cut. No not you, sir. Just kidding.
Best of luck and keep writing!