How to Write a Great Query Letter

 

All aspiring writers have to face the dreaded query letter—when marketing a ‘spec’ script. You will have to bite the bullet and write those letters. While this may seem like just a boring business letter, it’s actually a time to show off your talent as a writer and your understanding of the business.

Know your potential customer and their situation. Agents and Producers often talk about the fact that they get dozens of query letters every week that say little more than “You wanna read my script?” They delete those emails immediately. Today I’ll give you some tips on how to write a great query letter.

Two hundred queries a week. Think of it. And I believe that’s a modest estimate.

How to Write a Great Query Letter

My most important suggestion on writing query letters is to prepare.

 

Purpose

Understand the purpose of a query letter is to get a script request. You are not writing to sell, inform, inquire or build a relationship. You ARE writing to get a producer to REQUEST the script.

The Hook

Put your hook in the subject line of the email. Make sure your hook is the biggest and best possible. The bigger the hook, the better the chance of getting a script request.

 

The Synopsis

Here is the hardest, most taxing and most challenging thing you will ever do. Harder than writing the script itself!

Placing a100 WORD SYNOPSIS in the letter and writing it from a MARKETING PERSPECTIVE, not a STORY PERSPECTIVE!  DAMN DIFFICULT.

The absolute vast majority of new writers will have no idea how to write a query letter from a marketing perspective.

Contact me if you wish to know how to do this and I’ll set up a one on one telephone seminar.

 Distribution

To whom do you send the query letter? I’ve mentioned this time and time again and I’ll say it once more. Send query letters to the Producers who have made films in your genre or producers who specialize in your genre.

Send to smaller producers or boutique agencies. Avoid the ‘big boys’ at the top of the food chain. Paramount or Imagine Entertainment will not read your query letter. Trust me. They won’t.

KEY: There are services that will send out an email blast to hundreds of agents/managers/producers/et al in one fell swoop. While it may seem easy and time-saving, your query will need to be generic and will, therefore, lose its punch. Believe me, these people know a bulk mailing when they see one and that will work against you. Avoid the email blast. It’s like junk mail

 In the salutation say who you are. If your script is based on a true story, say so. If you are uniquely qualified to tell this story, say so. Suppose you are writing about an archaeological expedition and have a degree in Archaeology, say that.

All of this must be brief. A sentence or two will do.

Do mention the genre and the Rating. “This is a PG-13 horror story”.

If you’re in Canada, the equivalent is AA-14. For Mexico, you’ll need to do research into the film ratings.

Example:

“I’m Wayne McLean and I have 35 years’ experience in radio and TV. I have a PG 13 thriller about a radio talk show host who was a Russian Agent.”

Now comes the title of the movie, then the synopsis.

Contact information is after the 100 word synopsis. The phone number and email address, only. They don’t care where you live unless your story is about your home town or you were an inmate at a prison in your town.

You should thank the reader for taking the time and mention something about the company you are sending to.

These query letters require pain staking precision, artistic merit and specific information.

Please visit the rest of the web site and remember I offer a free ten minute consultation. It’s not a ‘gimmick’ or marketing ploy. There really is no obligation.

Be sure to sign-up for ON LOCATION a writers’ tip sheet that will help you.

 

Wayne