The largest thing we have struggled with, by far, is the matter of getting people to actually read our scripts. I mean, we can usually get our significant others or parents to read them (at least sometimes), but that’s not going to do us a lot of good as far as getting these things sold.
The usual advice is to mail out hundreds of query letters to agencies, find an agency who’s willing to take you on, and let them handle selling the script to producers. I actually went down that road many years ago, immediately after graduating from college. Given that I had no income at the time, it was a prohibitively expensive approach, but did get me representation on one of my scripts (a heavily Wodehouse-inspired romantic comedy that we might get around to rewriting one of these days).
The agency who represented me was almost assuredly just a scam, given that they wanted me to front them some money for postage, and, even though I knew it was likely a scam, I went for it anyway. Got a couple calls from the guy, claiming he had interested parties, but then I never heard from him again. Ah, well.
Anyway, this time around, I was sort of hesitant to try that approach. This guy offers some tips, and generally argues that screenwriters are better off targeting production companies instead of studios, using mail, fax, and/or email. Seemed like a good approach, but before I started with that (which I’ll cover in a future entry), I thought I’d try something with absolutely no cost to me: Google Ad Words.
Every few months, I get a card in the mail from Google offering me $100 of AdWords credit. I usually just throw them out, since I don’t have anything to advertise, but this time decided to see if I could get people looking at the script summaries here. I created an account and bought ads on relevant keywords (e.g., “unproduced screenplays,” “monster screenplays,” “list of best unproduced scripts,” etc.)
I limited the viewer base to Los Angeles and Santa Barbara counties and set it loose. It certainly led to a lot of ads (over 150,000 impressions), but a grand total of 82 clickthroughs, leading to a total of zero script requests. Clearly, not very effective, but at least it cost me $0.
I tried a second approach. The older version of this site was less bloggy and more just a listing of scripts. I spent a hour making a nice mobile version of the site, then created a new ad campaign (using another free code and a different Google account) that targeted only users of mobile devices. For reasons I do not understand, this made my cost per click plummet, so I ended up getting even more clickthroughs, but, still, no script requests.
All in all, I’d have to say that using Google AdWords to sell scripts is not a particularly effective approach. On the other hand (and not to spoil upcoming posts), it’s just as effective as faxing and infinitely cheaper, so maybe I shouldn’t write it off entirely.