The purpose of this column is shining a light on the best — and worst — submission practices, so this means I get asked A LOT about this subject via social media, especially via my Ask.Fm page.
I find there are three submission questions Bang2write gets asked over and over.
1) Should I enter screenplay competitions early?
It’s no secret B2W is a fan of screenwriting competitions. At the very least, they provide deadlines for new writers to work with. In addition, screenwriting competitions offer very real exposure and opportunities in terms of industry contacts, prize money and goods.
Lots of screenwriting competitions stagger submissions i.e., there may be an earlybird deadline, followed by a regular deadline, then a late deadline. With most of them, there is a fee increase with each subsequent date, meaning the earlier you enter, the less you pay.
When it comes to staggered submissions, from my own experiences as a competition reader I can tell writers it’s usually so there’s not a deluge of entries in one go. It’s just common sense from an administrative point of view, since the lesser price offers an incentive for organized writers to get their entries in.
Having said that, price deduction is not the only reason writers should try for the earlybird deadline. Despite the lesser fee, the earlier deadline will probably have the least amount of entries.
In some contests, like Bluecat, you can get your feedback early and resubmit in accordance to their comments. With most however, it’s a question of simply getting more time spent reading your entry, so it’s worth going for the earlybird for that reason, as well as the cheaper price.
No brainer! MORE: Great Visual Guide For Screenwriting Comps & Initiatives
2) When do I follow up?
If you’re submitting or querying to a production company or agent and there is no deadline, and/or your submission was NOT actively solicited? I’d recommend waiting eight to twelve weeks before following up. THAT’S RIGHT! Eight to twelve weeks… Preferably towards the latter.
If you made a submission that had a deadline attached (ie. via a specific script call or brief), then you need to wait at least 6 weeks, preferably eight.
In both cases, mark the date from your submission in your diary. When the time is up, send a polite, concise email inquiring “as to the progress” of your submission. Do NOT launch into your life story, or make demands, or throw shade on the place you’ve submitted to for not responding quicker. MORE: When To Follow Up On Your Submission
3) What if I hear nothing?
ANSWER: It’s probably not good news. Sorry.
These are the facts. It’s a lot easier to say nothing, than “No.” Chances are, if you’ve heard nothing within eight to twelve weeks of your submission — anywhere — you’re probably not got to hear ANYTHING, ever.
Yes it sucks. Yes, it shouldn’t happen. But it does. MORE: When Is A Rejection A Rejection If I Don’t Hear Anything?
THE GOOD NEWS?
If you’ve set someone’s world on fire with your submission, you’ll probably hear VERY quickly. We’re talking a couple of weeks — sometimes even days.
Don’t be disheartened if you haven’t heard right away. Sometimes it’s just a question of it being in a MASSIVE submissions pile… If they get back to you, then there’s a strong chance they LIKE you! So if they ask to see more work, for God’s sake, SEND IT (some writers actually don’t!).
What’s more, always make it EASY for industry people to contact you. Make sure you INCLUDE a title page and always ensure your contact details are on it, unless specified NOT to. MORE: The Script Submission Tip That Nearly ALL Screenwriters Don’t Do, plus download The B2W Submissions Checklist (PDF).
- More articles by Lucy V. Hay
- What Can Screenwriting Contests Do For Your Writing Career?
- Submissions Insanity #4: Screenwriting Contests
How to Write a Contest-Winning Screenplay
To Jump-Start Your Career