It’s Still All About Who You Know – Part Two
by Lee Tidball
In Part One of this post, we discussed a bit of how difficult success can be for the writer who doesn’t “know someone who is someone” in the publishing/movie business. And I also let you in on three active steps that I took to build a network that would increase my chances of someday meeting that elusive “someone.” I took an online screenwriting class, I hired a reputable, highly experienced team of mentors, and I joined a local writers’ group. That was all anywhere from 5 to 8 years ago.
So now, let’s see how it’s all panned out. Below are just a few of the more notable advancements that have happened in my writing career as a result of afore-mentioned networking strategies, and more importantly, how they happened.
- Since I wanted to submit screenplays to producers through cold calls, I knew I needed some sort of legal representation to go through, as major Hollywood production companies don’t accept material they don’t solicit unless it’s through some legal entity (agency, manager, entertainment attorney, etc.). This is to protect them from lawsuits. So I put out a query for an entertainment attorney on my mentors’ professional email network. Within two days, I had a referral to an attorney for a well-respected Hollywood firm who ONLY TAKES NEW CLIENTS ON REFERRAL. I queried that attorney, she asked to look at my material, and within a couple months I was her client. She’s since negotiated two screenwriting options for me and three book contracts, all for a percentage of my profits with no fees upfront (that’s how the real entertainment attorneys operate—not those just trying to profit off of desperate writers who charge “signing fees,” “maintenance fees,” “billable hours,” or whatever else they may be called).
- A director on my mentors’ professional email network put out a call for a family-friendly kids movie that she could possibly produce for Disney Channel. I submitted a query to her about a Christmas script that I’d written. She loved the script, but felt it was too “big-budget” for a TV movie, but still felt it was good enough that she was going to pass it on to her agent, who had more contacts with bigger production companies. She did that, the agent loved the script, and has been my representation in Hollywood ever since for ALL my projects.
- A writer on the Screenwriting U alumni network put up an announcement a couple years ago that she’d turned one of her scripts into a novel and had just found a publisher for it, a small press in Canada. And yes, they were looking for more projects, especially graphic novels for middle-grade children. I had self-published such a project, also based on one of my screenplays, so I queried this publisher, sent along copies of my self-published work, and mentioned the alumnist’s name that was now one of his authors. Within three weeks, this publisher had accepted my work for publishing, and within a year, both parts of the graphic novel series that I’d self-published in black and white were full-color, legitimately published graphic novels selling on Amazon, BN.com, and other places as both ebooks and print books.
- I later met in person this alumnist from Screenwriting U when we both did an expo event to hand-sell our books and market our publisher’s company. She mentioned how she was planning to start her own small-press publishing company specifically for screenwriters who could turn their scripts into relatively short novels and build an audience for their work that way. I told her about some of my scripts, and she asked to read a couple, and subsequently agreed to publish novelized versions of both of them. I finished the first novel this spring, and within two months of submitting it to her, it was up and for sale on Amazon in both print and ebook form. We’re now in the midst of an intense marketing campaign. Meanwhile, my other publisher, who now trusts me, agreed to publish another self-published manuscript that I’d had re-edited, and that new edition will now be legitimately published and for sale later this summer.
Gol, you say, that’s a lot of success. And yes, I’d have to agree, though I’m certainly not rolling in the dough or doing interviews on Oprah. Far from it. But I’m definitely way closer to that now than I was five or six years ago when I first started networking. And there’s so much more as well. One of my best “beta readers” is a friend I met at a Screenwriting U event a couple years ago, and I, in turn, was able to get her representation through my agent (now my manager). My manager got a ”shopping agreement” option with a Hollywood exec for one of my scripts in part because he knew me and my material from meeting me at a pitch event years ago. I did a writer’s workshop for which I got very handsomely paid for the local writers’ group of another Screenwriting U alumnist.
NONE of this would have happened, though, if I didn’t network, become a trusted colleague, and make personal connections within the writing communities that I originally got myself involved with.
If you’re truly seeking success as a writer, you’ll find your own ways to begin networking, and you’ll do it NOW. The reward over the years could just be the success that we all dream about when we first start out.
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Genre – NeoGothic Horror / Thriller
Rating – R for violence & language
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