Thursday, April 20, 2017

We Review Queries for Free. We Don't Write Them for You.

As many of you know, we here at Coverage Ink will review your query letter for free. That means simply, you send us the query which you are planning to blast to the industry. We then give you our feedback. This generally means letting you know if you could say things more compellingly, if the logline is getting it done, if it paints a clear enough picture of you, and of course, whether there are any typos or grammatical issues.

Yet every week or so we'll get an e-mail from someone who interprets this as "we will write a query for you at no charge." This is not only untrue, but more importantly, wrong-headed. How on earth can anyone else write an effective query letter for you?  
A query letter is as much about you showing your writing voice and a tantalizing hint of your backstory as it is about the script you're pitching. Heck, anybody can write a "Dear Agent, my name is ____. Here is my story idea" letter. Those will generally get deleted before the end of sentence one.
No, you need to sell them on YOU first -- then your material.
Dear Lord, no.

Here's how it should go:

1. Paragraph 1. Introduce yourself in a fascinating way. What is the coolest or most unusual thing about you? Make yourself seem like someone they absolutely want to hang with or find out more about. Then ask if you can pitch them a script.

2. Paragraph 2. Logline. You can use up to three sentences. Make EACH WORD COUNT. 

Our good friends over at Blake Snyder's "Save the Cat!" have an indispensible logline format tool you should avail yourself of. Different genres have different logline requirements. 

3. Paragraph 3. Conclude by asking if they would like a look. Then end with a callback to your first paragraph. For example, perhaps you said you just spent 6 months in Tibet studying with the Dalai Lama's personal chef Floon Bingleflarb. So in paragraph 3 you’d callback to that with: “Thanks again for your time, and by the way, I have an awesome yak eyeball goulash recipe I'd love to whip out on you sometime.”

Get the idea? If you have any screenwriting accomplishments of note, you can mention them in paragraph 1, but mostly they’re looking for people with amazing life experience that they wouldn’t mind getting to know and working with.


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