INT. APARTMENT LOBBY -- EVENING
AN ASPIRING SCREENWRITER opens his overstuffed mailbox. Ignoring the pages of crumpled junk mail spilling all over the floor, he quickly sorts through the various letters in his hands until he sees a SMALL ENVELOPE, with "Hollywood Agency" prominently marked on the return address. The screenwriter rips it open and pulls out its contents:
C.U.: A single sheet of paper with a typed generic message. Beneath the text is an obviously faux-stamped "signature."
INSERT: Quick glimpses of the letter -- "Thank you for your interest...", "...while your script has many virtues and is clearly well written...", "...just not commercially viable at this time."
The screenwriter unceremoniously rips the letter apart and throws it into a nearby garbage pail.
Yeah, I thought so. That’s why I started this blog: to help spread the word about quality writing.
So…how does it work?
In simplest terms, here’s what happens:
- You submit an initial query. (More on that later.)
- I'll email you whether I'm interested or not.
- If I am, only then should you submit your manuscript or screenplay.
- If I like it, I’ll give it a positive mention on this blog. If I don’t, well…try, try, try again!
Do I have to pay anything? What do you get out of this?
YOU PAY NOTHING! My only aim is to help promote the work of writers who deserve it. There's no other catch or agenda to it!
What kind of work do you accept?
For book manuscripts, I’ll tend to read only fiction or memoirs, though I’m relatively open to other genres. I might read some short stories and non-fiction works, but I’m rather selective in that arena. I will not, however, read porn/erotica, cookbooks/instruction guides, religious/motivational doctrines, or poetry.
For screenplays, I’ll read any genre, provided that it is for a feature-length film. That means no short film scripts, no spec television pilot scripts, no unfinished “treatments”, etc…
I’m a writer and want to submit something for your review. What do I need to do?
For ALL submissions, you must follow these guidelines:
- Email me (email@example.com) a one-page query, with a basic synopsis of your book or screenplay. Keep in mind that your query letter gives me the first impression of your writing talents, so if it’s less than stellar, chances are I won’t be too keen on reading anything more from you.
- I will email you a reply and let you know if I am interested in reading your work.
- It's at this point you should send me your manuscript. If I like it, my review will be posted to the blog.
Why do I have to submit a query? Can't I just send you the script instead?
Please understand that I am a one-man operation, and have only so much time. Reviewing a query is a much, much easier and more efficient way for me to gauge your writing ability. If your query is well written, chances are I'll be excited to read your script, too.
What are you looking for in a query? What makes you choose one over another?
I read queries mainly to judge the quality of your writing, rather than the premise of your story. I try to be open to any and all genres, so the query review is more about whether or not you can write clearly and in complete sentences. It may sound like a hassle, but it saves me a lot of time.
How should I submit my query?
A simple email to firstname.lastname@example.org will do. The query should be in one of three formats:
- Within the body of the email,
- An attached WORD document, or
- An attached PDF file.
How long will it take to get a response?
About a week or two.
What if I don't hear from you?
If you don't hear from me after two weeks, email me the query again. I get so much junk mail that maybe I accidentally deleted it.
I will reply to every query, and will let you know if I will accept the script or not.
Why did you reject my query?
Maybe your query didn't thrill me. Don't take it personally, and don't give up on your writing! Remember, practice makes perfect, so chin up and write, write, write!
Can I send you more than one query? I have a lot of scripts under my belt.
Please submit no more than 1 query every six months. I can only read so much material, and other people deserve a shot to have their work reviewed.
My script/query was not selected. Can I resubmit it if I do an extensive rewrite?
Only if I ask. I don't do it very often, but sometimes I'll give feedback to a writer and encourage them to resubmit their work after they've made some changes. I do this for those scripts that I feel have promise, but didn't make the cut for whatever reason.
If you agree to read my manuscript/screenplay, how should I send it to you?
Email it to me as an attached MS WORD or PDF file.
Can I mail you a hardcopy?
No, sorry. My mailbox is too full of coupon booklets and porn to accomodate big manuscripts.
How should I format my manuscript/screenplay?
- Screenplays should adhere to the standard American format (12 pt. courier font, appropriate tabs, etc.), and clock in anywhere from 90-120 pages. (A little over or under is OK...) If you don't know what the standard format is, look it up. I won't read it if it's not properly formatted.
- For manuscripts I'm a little more flexible. The standard manuscript is usually 12 pt. courier font and double-spaced, but I'd actually prefer a single-spaced document, with wide left and right margins -- similar to a galley copy. It's easier on the eyes and faster to read.
If you end up liking my work, how long would it take for you to write up a review on your site?
Give me about three months. I know it's a long time, but I'm a busy guy! And PLEASE DO NOT email me for updates in the meantime. Again, I have this heart condition, and...oh, you get the point.
Will you let me know in advance if you've selected my work for review?
Sorry, but no. You'll just have to come back regularly and see for yourself. I get lonely, so I need frequent visitors.
When you post your review, how much of my plot are you going to give away? I'm afraid someone might steal it.
My reviews are usually very basic, with a general description of the major plot and characters. Rest assured, I am often cautious about giving too much away, as I want readers to discover the work for themselves.
Any other important things I need to know?
- REGISTER YOUR WORK BEFORE YOU SUBMIT IT! This is the golden rule for all creative writing, and it's for your own good. Contact the Writers Guild of America or Library of Congress for more information.
- Include your contact information with your submission, so that I can place it within my review. A great writeup is no good to you if people don't know where to reach you.
Do you review POD (print on demand) or self-published books?
YES! Just submit a query and I'll get back to you; the guidelines are pretty much the same as for screenplays. If I agree to read your book, please send it to me as a PDF or eBook.
So...just WHO ARE YOU? I have to know!
For his own safety and well being, The Unsung Critic prefers to remain anonymous. He will, however, indulge you with these four facts:
- He lives in Los Angeles, and has been working within the entertainment industry for over twelve years.
- He worked for over three years as a professional script reader (at two film studios and one talent agency).
- He is the author of three published novels and seven screenplays, three of which have been sold, and another two currently under option. (Sadly, he has yet to see any of his scripts actually produced.)