It’s really hard to sell something if you’re not sold on it yourself. And, it’s pretty easy to sell something you are super excited about, that you believe in, that you know will make a difference in not just your world, but to the audience it was created for.
Selling yourself on your projects before putting them out into the world also makes rejection so much easier because your belief in something is so strong you become unshakeable. It’s like your favorite show; you can rave about it, and someone might say, “I hate that show.” You’re like, “What? Are you crazy? It’s amazing – the settings, the acting, the directing…it’s just incredible.”
It doesn’t matter how many people say they don’t like it, it will not change your belief in its value.
There are going to also be people who say, “That sounds right up my alley. I’m going to go home and watch right now. Thanks for telling me about it. I can’t wait to watch it.”
So, before marketing your project, make sure you yourself would buy it, watch it, and recommend it to all your friends and family.
When I marketed my first screenplay, I was totally not sold on it. But I did it anyway. I loved the concept, but the script, in my opinion, was crap — it was my first screenplay.
However, I did love the first 10 pages and thought I did an excellent job on them, and I also had validation from my peers that they were pretty good.
I wrote my first script for a particular actor who wasn’t well known at the time, but by the time I finished that screenplay, he had landed a huge role, and my chances of getting my script to him went way down.
I did have an affluent actor in Hollywood I was acquainted with whom I thought might be a good second choice, so asked if he would be willing to read the first 10 pages. To my surprise, he said yes. So I sent him the 10 pages.
He emailed me back a week or so later and asked for 10 more pages.
I froze – I was definitely not sold on the next 10 pages, and I made that mean a lot of things.
What do you think I did?
I did nothing. I didn’t have the awareness or confidence in myself as a writer, or in my project, or, for that matter, in anyone who did show an interest. So not only was my script a hot mess…but as a writer and marketer, I was a mess, too.
If you’re saying things like, “It’s not my best work,” or “It’s okay…for a thriller,” or, like me, “The first 10 pages are good; the rest kind of sucks,” this energy is going to show up in your marketing. If you really feel that way about your project, then it’s time to get curious about why and do something about it. Do as many rewrites as it takes to make it something you are honestly proud of, or…
Put closure on it, thank the project for all the lessons it taught you, all the growth it gave you as a writer, and then move on.
And on your next project, sell yourself first.
Sell yourself every day before you work on it, and sell yourself every day before you market it.
Here’s an exercise you can do as you work every day on your project. It will build and influence that strong belief in the value of your work and help keep you excited about it as you’re in the creation process.
Before you start working on your project for the day…
Take five minutes and write 10 or more reasons why your project is valuable.
This exercise will not only bolster your own belief in your projects, but you will be able to use it to create compelling marketing content or conversation starters when sharing it with others.
Here’s an example of what that might look like.
10 Reasons Why This Project Is Valuable:
- My project was created to be a container for a diverse and unique cast that leaves no one behind.
- The right producer can create this project for under $5 million.
- My project has excellent dialogue.
- My project would be a lot of fun for an up-and-coming Director of Photography.
- A set designer is going to have so much fun with this project.
- If I were a director, this would be a great project.
- There is one scene that will make you cry like a baby, and the next instant will make you laugh.
- There are some take-your-breath-away scenes in this project.
- I love writing this kind of story because I think it’s relatable but confrontational enough to challenge the audience a little. I think those are the best kinds of projects.
- I love this project because it dives into human behavior and how it is possible to change.
- This project has the potential to get me a manager.
If you do this before every writing session, it will influence the way you write, the way you sell, and the way you present yourself as a writer in the industry.
You got nothing to lose by believing in the value of your projects. And again, I don’t mean lying to yourself about the value.
Have the courage to do what it takes to make your project valuable, or put closure to it and recognize that the value you got was from the experience of creating it.
Next week we’ll talk about the third and final belief to marketing your projects successfully: Belief that there are people who want your project.