I read a GREAT POST today, over on my favorite effing site, about how to know if you’re actually a talented writer.  It got me thinking about how there are SOOO many writers of screenplays and novels that don’t know where to turn when they have a completed manuscript to get honest and constructive feedback.  For screenwriters, there are a slew of people that are eager to have you part with a lot of your money.  In fact it seems like every time someone sells a spec (produced or not) their next step isn’t writing another or even going to Disney World, it’s setting up a website to ‘mentor’ fledgling screenwriters with tele-seminars, podcasts, newsletters and yes, coverage.  If you’re not careful, one could easily spend a mortgage payment a month on these that claim to be in the loop.

Some are good and honestly care, like the aforementioned Blake Snyder but some are clearly just in it for the money.  I will post a series of links in the future about some questionable places, but in the meantime, if you want honest coverage that won’t cost you your home payment, check out the pros at screenplayreaders.com

$59 will get you pointed in the right direction, I promise.  If you really think you’re ready and have a tad more coin, go to my pal Tony’s site at screenwriters online, their expert coverage will indeed forward to industry decision makers, no b.s., I promise.

Now, for the novelist – it’s a bit trickier.  Surprisingly enough, there really aren’t widespread coverage services for novels.  Sure you can hire an editor, but WHY FOR?  The publisher has ‘em lined up.  And that publisher relies on the agents to screen manuscripts and/or recommend. But for a novelist to get an agent is a battle in and of itself, which is precisely why 1st10pages was started.  There are two objective routes a novelist can go.  1st – go to writing conferences – not every one or not even the closest – do some research.  The Williamette Writers Conference is very good, for writers of novel and screen, and well worth the airfare.  Mind you, you won’t be able to get coverage right then and there, but the networking and caliber of talks and guests will give you good direction and pitch opportunity.  2nd – join a critique group, they are very valuable for first look problems you may be blind to as you peck away and become one with your characters.  Search your local alternative paper or even an online one is better than none.  There is also a great resource online called prededitors, that gives a rundown of scams to beware of.

At the end of the day, most agents will agree that 99% of novels they receive are not ready to submit, and I’m willing to bet the % is greater for screenplays, so it is crucial to get feedback of some kind — that is not related to you.

Drop us a line here if you want to learn more before I get those links up!