Paula Landry, MBA, is a writer/producer and consultant helping writers create strategies for INSPIRation, MOTIVATion & ACTivation to excel, improve storytelling, fusing business & creativity. Landry teaches film business classes at NYU, SVA, Wagner College and MCNY. She’s co-authored This Business of FILM; and Sell Your Screenplay; and is the author of Scheduling and Budgeting Your Film. Connect via LinkedIn, @paulalandry on Twitter, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Facebook #filmdreamers #mediaentrepreneurs #aflickchick
The statement that All Screenwriting is Marketing implies that every writer is chasing a commercial project. We copy work from other great writers to succeed. Yet, every writer feels that they are original. Which is correct?
Boom Boom (Law and Order Sound)
Both are true.
Screenwriting is Marketing and You Are Original, or Original-ish
You are original, but more importantly, your writing must be authentic, and that is how you will stand out. Copy others, be yourself.
…And remember also, that all screenwriting is marketing, simply for the reason that nobody writes a screenplay to languish on a hard drive. We want to share, to sell, to see it on screen! When you enter a contest, pitch a project, you’re marketing a script, and yourself as a screenwriter.
Your Writing Is Your Business
Literally. No matter whether writing is a vocation or vacation, treating your writing like a business just means taking it seriously, or funnily, with respect. That you respect what you’re doing and encourage it to grow and flourish.
How You Think Is Your Link
Just the word business sounds boring. But you can change that. I re-interpret ‘business’ as passion and entrepreneurship. Prioritizing that activity above others. This reinterpretation involves a shift in thinking, and doing.
How You Act Is Your Fact
If how you think is your link to get re-framed, how you act is your fact. Departing from Dr. Seuss, you need your thinking to support your doing. Employ whatever Jedi mind-tricks necessary to make that work.
If what we do is associated with drudgery, then those activities trick your brain feeling trapped, so you may sabotage your goals and dreams. Empower yourself with how you frame your writing, for example:
- Business = Passion
- Deadlines = Lifelines
- Work = Play
I had the pleasure recently of chatting with one of the most amazing literary agents in the NYC and probably the universe, Sterling Lord. If you get a chance, please read his book – Lord of Publishing, A Memoir. It’s a fascinating look into a rapaciously curious brain that discovered. At 90+ years young, he’s launched amazing writers – Jack Kerouac, Ken Kesey, Frank Deford and many more. Mr. Lord’s most profound advice was elegantly simple – find out what you love to do, and do it as much as you can. Using that approach, writing is fun, and marketing is an extension of that.
A Business Approach To Screenwriting Marketing
I come from a business background, working as a producer in music, film. Because of that, whether I’m producing VR films, features, stage plays or music videos, marketing (the end-game) is an inherent part of the creative process. Don’t focus on marketing constantly, but check in at regular intervals. It helps if you have a plan.
Use a Marketing Plan
When Marilyn Horowitz and I teamed up to create a book that presented sales and marketing for screenwriting with a business approach, I created a template for writers to think and approach marketing as one would in business, by creating a tailor made marketing plan designed for you.
In the new and updated edition of our new book Screenplay Sales & Marketing 101: How To Sell Your Screenplay, to be released this Spring, the importance of having a marketing plan is explained like this: to sell your script, or any writing at all, you have to have a plan. Of course we hope you’ll check out the book, but even more than that, we hope you have tremendous success selling your work!
While some writers do win “script lotto” like Michael Arndt who wrote Little Miss Sunshine, most of us have to actively pursue success, which is why you need a marketing plan to sell your script.
Here’s the secret equation:
Marketing = Promotion to Obtain Sales
- Marketing is the process of promoting in order to achieve a sale
- Promotion – creating awareness, attracting attention of potential buyers
- Sales – closing the deal with an interested buyer
It’s not rocket science, but it’s different from writing. The whole point of a marketing plan is to take your big goal (selling your screenplay, producing your film) and break it into a series of easy, specific actions. That’s it, so even when you don’t know what to do, or feel like you cannot do anything, you refer to your marketing plan, and just follow the next step to keep moving forward. What are these actions, they are goals with time-limits – I call them lifelines, not deadlines – to keep you motivated. Waiting is death for writers, and we must never wait. We must always be proactive.
After writing and editing our work, we should spend the most amount of time on promotion, and it’s a fun way to learn about the business. The most basic form of marketing involves promoting your product; interacting positively online, sending email, making calls, attending contests and film festivals, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Promotion – is a means to an end – the Sale. And it should be fun, so do whatever it takes to make it fun!
Remember, that until you get an agent or manager, YOU are your agent or manager, and you will make more money, and work on better projects, by marketing your work throughout your entire career.
How to Use Screenplay Marketing Basics
The Marketing Mix is the heart of your marketing plan, and in B-school parlance, is a way to shortcut the ideas that you’ll use over and over. The marketing mix is also known as the
‘4 Ps’ (to make them easier to remember).
Screenplay Marketing Mix, AKA The 4 Ps
You already know the 4 Ps: – product, price, place, promotion. By defining these, it will focus your work for each script, treatment or teleplay you have completed, and your writing career in general.
- Product – your script
- Price – going rate or whatever you can get (depends on it’s hotness level)
- Place – wherever you are, nearby, online channels and wherever geographically you can get to that film stuff is happening
- Promotion – this is the biggie! All the fun stuff you DO to draw attention to your writing
Screenplay Marketing Mix, The Sequel
I’ll just confess that as much as I love the principals of B-school, it’s not rocket science. Also, business school isn’t the boss of any of us – so adjust it as you go. Feel free to add more Ps if you want, many modern marketers are expanding this to 8 Ps – adding things like people, productivity, packaging, process, physical evidence, presentation – the sky is the limit.
For instance – I insist there is a top-secret, 5th P! (Okay, not a secret.) I think you’ll be surprised you already know it – Pitch! Of course you already knew that – at the heart of our title, premise, synopsis, logline and genre – pitching is one of our most robust marketing tools.
To summarize, ‘All Screenwriting is Marketing’ in a fun way – showing off your talents. Also, copy from the best, while striving to be your most authentic. And don’t stress over marketing, use the 4 Ps (or as many Ps as you need) and enjoy sharing your writing with the world!
Rock your writing,
Paula, a flick chick @paulalandry
Interested in a free mini-marketing plan?