What is the value of a query service? We’re about to find out.
For those of you who don’t know, a query service will blast your logline (or script) to a large number of managers, agents, producers and directors for a fee. All you have to do is provide the logline and the fee and the service will take care of the rest.
The advantage is that you can hit a lot of people at one time. It’s called shotgunning, and you save a lot of effort scouring imdb.com or rifling through a creative directory.
The disadvantages are that you hit a lot of people at one time. It’s kind of one and done. There is no chance to build interest in your project or rework your logline/synopsis in a more engaging fashion. You also lack the ability to target people looking for a specific genre. Everyone on the list gets it. So, if you are marketing a horror, everyone looking for a romcom is going to be targeted. That can make it look like you didn’t do your homework on the company you are soliciting. That could reflect badly on you . . . if they remember who you are out of the hundreds of queries they receive each week.
Pricing doesn’t seem to be much of a factor, unless you plan on shotgunning multiple scripts. A service like ScriptDelivery.net has an all-inclusive plan for $90 that targets over 9,000 email addresses. Last fall, I attempted to query producers and managers regarding my screenplay Nowhere to Run (formerly Come Ups). I purchased the Hollywood Screenwriting Directory from the Writer’s Store for $40. The directory is updated several times a year, and I had the latest version.
I spent many hours paging through the directory and highlighting who accepted query letters, whether they preferred email or snail mail, and who was looking for action-thrillers. I ended up with a list of hundreds with even more listings to scour. I decided to take what I had and send out an initial query to judge responses.
Over a two-week period, I sent close to 150 queries. Over half of them bounced back as wrong email addresses. A quarter of them responded that they didn’t accept query letters. And the rest? Well, I never heard from them. Maybe the query letter wasn’t up to snuff or they just didn’t care. But that was a lot of work and a $40 investment in a directory that was having a 50% inaccuracy rate. I wanted to try something different, but the job issue was rearing its ugly head and I was forced to set aside the writing goals for a time.
Now that I’m back in the game, so to speak, I’ve decided to try the query approach again. I don’t want to repeat last fall’s experience, however. Chuck Hustmyre, a member of one of my Facebook forums, posted about his experience with query services. He’s a screenwriter based in Baton Rouge, LA and has had multiple screenplay sales and several scripts produced. One of the ways he did this was through a query service.
Well, if it works for Chuck, maybe it will work for me. So, today I submitted my logline and very brief summary of Nowhere to Run to ScriptDelivery.net (the same service Chuck used). The letter went out to about 9600 people. Now all I have to do is sit back and wait.
Hopefully I won’t have to wait long.
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