Sunday, May 07, 2006

WOOOOO... Hoo?

Okay... I could use just a touch of sage advice from all of y'all out there in the blogosphere...

First the good news... I checked my e-mail today and was almost stunned to read the following from the literary agency that asked me to send them a copy of my screenplay:

"Thank you for everything that we have received from you thus far. Our
review team believes that your work has commercial potential and we would
like to proceed further with you. We believe we would like to represent you."


So the right side of my brain high-fives the left, and I keep reading. What followed was legalese for the most part, but it cleared up a bit to say this:

"I think you would agree that your work can use some level of polishing.
However, we don't think you should take just our word for it, we would like
to have an independent review of your work that shows you where the
improvements can be made. Also, if your work is 'great and ready to go' it
is helpful that we hear it from an independent source as well.

In short, we like it, and we think we can sell it, but we would like it to
be as polished as possible before we take it to our buyers."


Sure, okay... always open to revisions. Whatever don't kill me makes me a better writer, right? But then, after providing links to "examples of acceptable critiques":

"If you already have a 3rd party critique, please let us
know. It must match the level of detail that you see in the examples above.
If you have an associate that you believe can do your critique, then be sure
to send us their credentials first for approval. Please don't try to
critique your own work. (Yes, we've seen that happen and we can tell
immediately.) Also, many people ask if they can get a friend to do the
critique, or a teacher, or an associate. The answer can be yes, but the
problem is that if they don't do editing for a living, then it's like asking
anyone to do something for free, it takes longer, and it may not be done
correctly.

The critique should be inexpensive, usually less than a hundred dollars,
depending on the company you choose. It will tell each of us if the work is
ready for marketing right away, or if more polishing is required. As we
mentioned if you have a critique already, great, if not, we can provide a
referral for a critique service."


Ummmm... I don't have a spare twenty for gas right now, much less a spare hundred for a screenplay critique by an industry professional... I googled the topic, and most of these folks want a couple of hundred dollars. So I read on...

"PLEASE NOTE: WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR MONEY.
We want you to have a critique by a qualified industry professional.
======================================================
MANY AUTHORS MISUNDERSTAND THIS SIMPLE REQUEST. We don't want you to pay
us, we want you to have a critique to start our relationship so that we can
start from the same page. (If I told you the number of writers that accuse
us of using this to take their money, you would be flabbergasted.)"


DANGER WILL ROBINSON!!!! Maybe it's just me, but this statement raised a red flag in my noggin. My experience is that anyone who says "I'm not asking for money" usually is. The rest of the e-mail more or less said that I should reply to them so they can send me a contract (and a referal to a critique service should I need one... very very suspicious), send them an e-mail with a critique of my work attached (that I may already have? like any of my friends are editors!), or send one saying "thanks but no thanks".

So, I put to use the power at my fingertips.... and googled the woman that had asked me for a copy of my script. Turns out I was right... it's all a scam designed to separate me from my money. I could sent them 120 pages of gibberish and they would have sent me the same replies. People suck. Thank goodness I took the time to register my stuff with the WGA.

The moral: when something seems too good to be true, it usually is. The advice I need: Do I just politely tell these folks where to stick their empty promises, or do I just chalk it up to experience and move on?

5 comments:

Stacey said...

Dude, that sucks. SUCKS. Why can't you both tell them to stick it and chalk it up to experience? Both would provide immediate satisfaction.

Melinda Barton said...

Chalk it up to experience and remember for the future: Any agent who wants you to pay for anything before accepting you as a client is a fraud. Legitimate agents accept your work b/c they believe they can sell you and make their commission. Period. Try checking out the Writers' Market. That should help you find someone established and reputable. Also, try to find out who represents some of your favorite screenwriters, writers whose work is similar to your own. Finally, remember that this has nothing to do with your talent. EVERY successful writer, artist, filmmaker etc. has a horror story or two about the days when they were struggling to break into the biz.

dreamwalker said...

While 'politely' telling these #@!%#'s where to stick their empty promises would perhaps give you some satisfaction..it would not make a dent in their scabby hides!! I say just chalk it up to experience and move on.

dreamwalker said...

Ooops, I wasn't finished and pressed the wrong button..

Those people are real scumbags! Although I shouldn't bother because Melinda's advice is sound. So what she says, and just keep sending your work out - and keep writing!!

Especially the blog :) That is one true blinkie you have there!

Lauren said...

You do have a friend who is an editor - Deborah. She's edited a few things for professional credit.