How to Write a Query Letter


A query letter is a letter or email – usually unsolicited – that screenwriters send to agents, managers, and producers to entice them into reading their scripts.

If I had a nickel for every bad query I’ve read, I’d be a rich, rich, (did I say rich? I meant RICH) man. To help out screenwriters who may not be as experienced with query letters, I’ve included a few pointers below.

Of course, I’d be happy to help with your specific query letter for a small fee: that’s why I set up the Query Service. It’s inexpensive and efficient. Check it out.

Alright, on to the tips!

A good query letter is short, sweet and specific. The point is to pitch your project to the agent/producer as succinctly as possible. You can throw in a LITTLE about who you are, but unless you’re Steven Spielberg’s cousin, keep it BRIEF. (Even then, all you’d have to say is, “Cousin Spielberg said I might drop you a line.)

Below are examples two types of query letters you might write, the “traditional” and the “non-traditional but still good.”


“Traditional”

Agent X
1234 5th Street
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Agent X:

Below is a query for my latest horror/thriller screenplay, DARKROOM.

Premise (or Logline): When decapitated bodies appear in Ashley’s photos, she thinks her camera is a window to the bloody past of her landlord. But when one of the bodies turns out to be her, she realizes the camera doesn’t take pictures of the past, it takes pictures of the future: and she is about to die.

My last script was produced by Scary Films. I have worked as a freelance reader for so and so, and many others.

I hope you will give me the opportunity to submit DARKROOM to [COMPANY X]. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Soon to be Produced Screenwriter

“Non-Traditional, but still good”

Dear Producer Y:

THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE meets THE DESCENT

Two twenty-somethings – Ashley and Karen – study photography at a secluded bed and breakfast, complete with its own darkroom.

When decapitated bodies show up in their pictures and the violent background of the man running the lodge is uncovered, the girls realize their camera somehow captures a bloody past.

Then the latest photos fade into focus: severed heads. Their heads. The camera doesn’t capture the past, it captures the future. And they are about to die.

DARKROOM is a fast-paced horror/thriller that will have you jumping at every FLASH.

My last script was produced by Scary Films. I have worked as a freelance reader for so and so, and many others.

I hope you will give me the opportunity to submit DARKROOM to [COMPANY X]. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Soon to be Produced Screenwriter




You may notice, a brief paragraph of RELEVANT information on the writer is included.

What’s relevant? Screenwriting experience. No screenwriting experience? Put down any type of writing experience. If you don’t have either, just omit the paragraph – your letter will be even more concise. (Or read Writing a Query Letter with no Screenwriting Experience)

Some people think they need a synopsis, summary, sample pages, etc. In fact, I’ve rejected many a query that had a solid premise/logline, but included a monotonous synopsis that made me NOT want to read the entire script.

The query is just a tease; let your script do the talking.

But what happens when they request your script? Is it ready to be sold? If you have ANY doubts at all, I recommend getting professional notes, either from me (see Screenwriting Services) or another professional consultant who can give you objective advice and knows what they are talking about.

Also, for another take on query letters, see How to Write a Screenplay Query Letter at SellingYourScreenplay.com.

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Onward!

-Eric
scriptdoctoreric@gmail.com

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