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Monday, March 20, 2006

Example Query Letter

A few of you asked for more about agents / working your own sales. This post tackles both. Here is my query letter to one of the agents I met at the workshop recently. I expect Blogger will screw the format a bit, but hopefully you'll get the flow.

Dear Rob,

Thanks for your good advice and your time at the ‘Meet the Agents’ event. Certainly food for thought there. To remind you - I was guy in the braces who cheekily asked if the panel would pitch their skills back to the audience.

Whilst I won’t hold you to our handshake deal I would like to just quickly give you an outline of who I am, my recent successes and future opportunities. The aim is to see if you agree that it would be beneficial to meet up and discuss how we could kick off even more opportunities together.

I started in short films with my greatest success being the writer of the BAFTA nominated film “Eight” directed by Stephen Daldry. This came about after I won the Jerwood Film Prize for young writers, judged by Emma Thompson, Richard Curtis, The Coen Brothers and others. Since then I have written and directed a strong catalogue of short films and animations that have been broadcast and shown at festivals worldwide.

Recently I have moved into features. Following on from a successful first visit to Cannes I have had one feature treatment optioned. I have also been commissioned to do an adaptation by RKO Pictures (New York). Having completed this work, which is currently being considered by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Orlando Bloom I am returning to writing a spec script, a post-modern love story. I want to hit the ground running when this is completed and am also looking for additional avenues of further work. Onwards and upwards and all that!

My main strength is in new cross-genre ideas and new structures. I am confident at selling and promoting myself as I am also regularly asked to create sales training materials for HSBC and many other companies.

I am proud of all my work to date and would be happy to share any of it with you before the meeting.

Yours sincerely,

Obviously the stage before writing your letter is to think about what your best news is. Then think about what they are looking for. Only then can you concentrate on the overlap - where you will both work well together.


Dominic Carver said...

My experience of agents so far has not been a good one. Two agents in the last six months have requested an example of my work because they thought, "it sounds interesting."

The first sent the script back with a tick-the-boxes rejection letter which I have to admit quite got to me. It wouldn't have taken five minutes to write a personal letter thanking me for considering them. The second sent it back using the words, "I read this with interest but in the end I decided it wasn't the project for me." Fair enough, not the result I wanted but polite none the less.

It seems impossible to get an agent unless you've had some sort of success and I don't think that, "Your script was one of 54 out of 227 scripts we received to be put forward for a second read." - Anne-Marie Flynn, The Oscar Moore Foundation, Screenwriting Prize 2001, counts as the kind of success agents want to see.

It's a hard, lonely, often unfulfilling life being a writer... but I love it :-)

Tim Clague said...

Dom. The thread of this blog is about doing it yourself. Agents are useful but people forget their role - which is as your representative and advocate. They do this as their job, for a cut. So clearly they want an easy sell. If you DO want an agent they you have to make yourself easy to sell. What can you do that no one else can? Of course once you know that you may not want an agent at all anyway!

Dominic Carver said...

But how much should you do to promote yourself, after all the more time you spend doing this the less time you spend writing?

How do you split your time and what advice would you give on how to set about promoting yourself?

Tim Clague said...

See the "time bandits' post. Plus I'll be doing a new post on this topic!