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A Way Around No Unsolicited Script Submissions

When a publisher or agent submission guidelines say ‘no unsolicited material,’ does that include query letters?

Yes, it does include query letters. These companies' official policy is that they do not want to see any unsolicited story ideas, not even a query letter. There are some companies that say and mean no unsolicited submissions. You’re wasting your time submitting to them. All you’re going to get back is a letter saying they didn’t read your submission and aren’t allowed to take unsolicited submissions.

Now with that said, I personally don’t think you need to worry about this because most companies, even if they say no unsolicited submissions, still might read your script if your letter hits the right person at the right time. I know this from first-hand experience. I’ve gotten many companies whose official policy is no unsolicited submissions to read my manuscripts by submitting a query letter to them and having them request the full manuscript. You really don’t know until you’ve submitted if they’re serious about their policy or not. Who knows, maybe your next query letter will hit the right person at the right time. So the answer is yes, many companies say and mean no unsolicited submissions, but I would just submit anyway and see what happens. The worst they can do is throw your letter in the trash, unread. Rejection is unavoidable when you are a writer. With enough submissions and assuming your query letter is top notch, you will finally get through to a few companies. Just keep submitting and you will hit the jackpot eventually.

If you have been lucky enough to have your book requested by a publishing company, you will want to send a chase up email to them around six weeks later. You should keep track of all your responses and ask them for an update. If you are not afraid to make a phone call, I highly recommend that you call the company a month or two after you sent it. Or if you are afraid to call them and you have an email address for the person in the company, then drop them an email.

The main purpose of this phone call or email is to try to establish a relationship with them. If they haven’t read your manuscript yet, tell them it is fine and you look forward to hearing their thoughts when they have read it. Then repeat the process in another couple of months. If they have read it and passed on it, try to find out what they didn’t like about it. Try to find out what sort of material they are looking for. This can really help you as you develop ideas for future projects. And finally, ask them if they would be willing to read future manuscripts that you write and, if they say “yes,” make sure you put their contact info in your database so you can pitch them your scripts in the future. Also, try to get additional information such as their specific phone number and email address so you can contact them directly. If they liked your manuscript but it wasn’t “quite right” for them, they will probably be more than happy to give you this sort of information.

Keep in mind, there is a good chance they won’t take your call and won’t return your email – don’t worry about it. It’s going to happen in most cases. Simply move on. I would say one or two attempts to make contact is the most you’d ever want to do. After that, it’s clear they’re not interested in what you have to offer so spend your time trying to find people who will.

Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Lesley Jones