Selling a Screenplay — Understanding Your Buyer

Selling a screenplay can involve many of  the same aspects that selling other things can entail. Let’s take a look at the psychological aspects of selling a screenplay. When you’re selling a screenplay, or anything for that matter, you need to consider not what you are offering, but what the other person wants. For example, you can offer the absolutely best brand of banana ice cream, but it won’t be enough to sell it to someone who is allergic to banana, who hates ice cream, or who is cold and looking for something warm.

In short, your screenplay, just like any other product you could be selling, should focus on the needs and wants of your buyer. It can be an awesome screenplay and at the same time not be fitting for what the person is looking for. What should you do then?

When selling a screenplay, it’s  important to research your potential buyers. What movies/shows are they known for making, taking part in, or financing? What genres do they seem to prefer? What tropes do they like and dislike in their work? A famous and rather humorous example of this can be found in Kevin Smith’s story about his experiences in Hollywood, when an executive kept demanding the screenplay include a giant spider. While forcing a giant spider into any screenplay you write is a tough choice, you will do well to consider which genre, tropes, and types of characters your potential buyer favors.

Beyond this, the main need of the buyer is usually to create a financially-successful project. What can your screenplay offer that will make it a more likely financial success? How can you convince the buyer that the screenplay will be effective? In short, how can you show them that your project fits their needs?

It’s important to consider your buyer’s motivation and find ways to respond to that motivation as effectively as you can.