Several times a week, I get emails that say: Dear Julie, I sent my script to X manager a couple of weeks ago and he/she just sent me and email that said Dear So-and-so: thanks for the read, I liked the script but I just couldn’t get any traction with it. Thanks for submitting. What does that mean?
It means “no”. Managers and agents have several ways of saying “no”, ranging from silence (very common) to the polite brush-off. But what can be really frustrating to a writer is getting the polite brush-off with this addendum – “Do you have another script?” So you send another script. A few weeks later you either get the Silent No or another polite email saying something like “While I enjoyed the read, I just couldn’t connect with the theme.” Translation? No.
First of all a polite brush-off is of course nicer than the usual silence. Silence leaves the writer hanging for weeks and then of course, we do hear those one-in-a-hundred stories of Silence For Six Months then a phone call or email saying WE LOVE IT. But guys – that is so rare. Take silence as a “no” and move on. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Don’t count your chickens til they’re hatched. Don’t wonder which came first, the chicken or the – okay you get it.
But the most frustrating of all is the manager who keeps passing on your scripts and yet keeps asking for other samples. Is this person interested or not? Are they going to sign you or not? It’s like dating a person who is giving you mixed signals. Is he into me? Or not? How do you know? How long do you wait? When is this manager going to pull the trigger??
Should you be continuing to query other people? Or do you put your life on hold as you wait for Manager X to decide whether THIS script is one he/she connects with, or gets excited by or can get behind?
Being in some kind of suspended animation because you are waiting for a response to a script read is a big mistake. You need to continually move ahead with your writing and your queries. If someone else – someone bigger IS truly interested in your script and then the person you were waiting for finally indicates they liked the work, well guess what? Now, potentially, both will be even more keen about you and your work because now there’s a seeming competition for you. So keep moving, keep querying. Don’t sit and wait for weeks, using your Magic 8 ball to interpret either silence or polite brush-offs.
Stay tuned tomorrow for Part II.
Treat yourself to Just Effing Entertain Me: A Screenwriter’s Atlas