questionmarkI’m a new writer: I have an agent, I have a manager, I have a spec that’s a good sample but will never sell, I have a spec that might sell and that my reps are trying to attach elements to. For a month or two, I’ve been going on general meetings off of my sample spec as they wait for things to align before sending out my new one. In my meetings, people talk about how much they love my sample (but of course aren’t going to buy it), how much they want to read my new spec, and how much they like the ideas for future projects I talk about. That’s all great.

But — and, being very new at this, this may be a stupid question — now what? What should or could I be doing to help make myself/my projects easier to sell, either when my new spec goes out, or in the future? I trust my reps completely, but I’d love to do anything I can to make their jobs a bit easier.

I have this nagging feeling that I should somehow be trying to turn my general meetings into possible work down the line, but I’m not sure if that’s true, or if it is, how I would go about it. I just don’t want to look back a year from now and realize that I squandered what heat I had, if that makes sense.

— E.

You’re at the phase in your career in which you’re “taking generals.”

General meetings are the hey-it’s-nice-to-meet-you part of a screenwriting career, and while you do fewer of them once you have more credits to your name, they’re always an important part of the job. This is how you meet the junior executives who will later become senior executives, and get them thinking about you as the kind of person they would like to hire.

I had a ton of general meetings off my first script (Here and Now), which never sold. When I say ton, I mean fifteen or twenty, at least three a week for a while. Mostly, my agent was sending me out there so I could practice being in a room without making a fool of myself. After the first dozen or so, I learned How to Meet, and stopped worrying about being the worst-dressed person in the room.

Your goal in a general meeting is to figure out what they might be able to hire you to write. At a certain point, they’ll talk about the kinds of projects they have in development, and the things they’re looking for. If anything sparks, pursue it. Talk about it in the room, then follow up the next day, and the next week. You’ll be chasing a lot of half-baked projects, most of which will never come to be. But one or two might. And that’s what you need.

Your advantage at this point is that you’re cheap and available. A producer could likely hire you with discretionary funds to rewrite a mediocre project she has sitting on the shelf. And if that opportunity comes up, take it. Do an amazing job, then let your reps spin that in your next assignment. And your next.