Screenwriting : Is it good/bad for a screenwriter to blow his/her trumpet??? by Conrad Ekeke

Conrad Ekeke

Is it good/bad for a screenwriter to blow his/her trumpet???

Can you sell what you have without telling how good it is (blowing trumpet stuff)? Imagine you're in a market where everyone's selling the same brand of goods you're selling, every buyer wants to buy the best of that brand you are selling and most obviously you might notice a "stiff market" situation if you're keen. You have your goods and you know it's good or better than some other traders' but your approach to sell is different. You prefer someone or other people to blow your own trumpet and my question is, when can this ever happen in the screenwriting market? I have the feeling it's a "stiff market" and some screenwriters prefer to sell their goods by staying quiet.... If you've watched Jack The Giant Slayer, you'll see the first scenes where he wants to sell his horse... He spoke out and he sold it for some grains of bean :). However, if he didn't speak (blow his trumpet), the monk might have sought some other means and his market situation wasn't stiff. There were different brands to choose from. Just to throw more light. What's your thought?

Michael Hager

In my experience you should let the writing speak for itself, but you shouldn't feel shy about promoting it. You don't want to query by saying, "this is a hilarious comedy!" They will be turned off by that, trust me. Promote your work, but let it do the horn-tooting.

Bill Costantini

I better be a pretty good trumpet player if I'm trying to sell something to high-level producers or anyone else. The first trumpets were used to signal war or were used for religious ceremonies. Trying to sell a script is defintely a battle and a war...selling a script/getting contracted to write a script/optioning a script is like a religious experience - at least to me.

Matt Hurd

I agree with Michael - be a writer first, tell people you're a writer second. If anyone asks me what I do, I'm not shy about telling them I'm a writer - but I'm not pursuing this career so that I can claim the fancy title of "Writer" with a capital W, you know? That's not what it's about. David Foster Wallace talked at one point about how the last thing he wanted to be was one of those guys who went to fancy parties, stood around with a stiff drink, and got to tell people "I'm a writer, I'm a writer." There's no need to be bashful about who you are or what you do, but I think there'll always come a point where the work needs to speak for itself - and if you've spent all your time trumpeting yourself instead of actually writing...well.

Conrad Ekeke

Michael, Matthew, Bill, I totally agree with y'all. It's more of a waring situation Bill and yes Michael, you better be right about the trumpet and let it speak for itself. :)

Richard "RB" Botto

Excellent, excellent post, Matt!

Dan Guardino

Tooting your own horn is never a good idea because you are setting the bar higher than it needs to be. It is better to deliver a screenplay that is better than they expected.

Dan Guardino

I am the opposite of Mathew. I don't want to tell people I am a screenwriter because they will often ask questions I don't want to answer.

Richard "RB" Botto

Got a good laugh out of that, Dan...A knowing laugh, but a good laugh.

Beth Fox Heisinger

The work absolutely needs to speak for itself. Horn tooting is rather boring and obvious—not in a good way! Lol! Being confident, humble, open and approachable is much better in my opinion. Anyway, I'd much rather talk about the craft. ;)

Fiona Faith Ross

You start some really good threads, CE.

Richard "RB" Botto

Yes he does...

Bill Costantini

Isn't pitching your scripts to people in the business considered "tooting your horn?" If you've ever pitched a script, don't you consider that to be marketing yourself and your script, or are you tooting your Uncle Schmedrick's horn instead? Are you there to find out a producer's favorite restaurant, or are you there to show someone your goods - your script and yourself? Or having a profile on a website like Stage32, and calling oneself a screenwriter...maybe listing one's screenplay competition placements...listing one's loglines and scripts....and maybe even having your own website, like a lot of screenwriters have - isn't that a big loud toot-toot-toot, too? Maybe some of you don't consider that "tooting your horn"....I sure do. It's marketing, pure and simple, and all writers need to be able to market themselves and their works. It's not like you're required by law to do any of what you all are already doing (even though some of you don't seem to think you are all already doing it) .

Al Hibbert

Everybody's done it at least once. Talk about something you've done, and after you hit 'send' you're like, "Oh my God, I seem like a horn tooten braggart now!" Maybe you take the bait of one of these guys (present company excluded) who post some really poignant statement or question, and you try to start a conversation, ask them a question and you get no response- making you feel like "Maybe I shouldn't have passionately described my project or something?". Damned if you do , Damned if you don't. But you can't take offense, they probably didn't mean anything by it- just stuff flying by on their cell phone- we forget sometimes that real people are on the other end.

Dan Guardino

Everyone in this business is a genius, so it goes without saying.

Beth Fox Heisinger

To "toot one's own horn" is an idiomatic phrase which means to promote oneself; to boast or brag; to tout oneself. There's a big difference between bragging/boasting about yourself and talking about a project or what you do for a living. Confidence is a good thing, but bragging is a real turn off. ...And let me tell ya, some of the self-promotion I see on a daily basis is down right obnoxious—just saying.

Al Hibbert

Fine line- Even the act of just telling a little bit about a project some people would call boasting. What about the "Greatest Show on Earth"? that's boasting. Even if it's true.

Cherie Grant

Conrad, are you waging some war against my every word? This is the second time you've publicly used my words for a thread. The first time you called my comments repulsive. Now this? And thank-you Beth, that is exactly what I have been saying. Not that anyone pays the least attention to what I am actually saying.

Bill Costantini

Cherie - I pay attention to your posts. Beth - I hear you. His words are a bit mixed, though, and I concluded the "spirit" of what he was saying when I read the line "and some screenwriters prefer to sell their goods by staying quiet." Maybe I was wrong. But I know in certain situations that I've been in, I have definitely been put in positions to toot my own horn. When I was contracted to write a script, I wasn't the only writer in contention, and had to answer the question "why should we pick you?" Same thing when I optioned a script. Same thing for when I co-founded a newspaper. Same thing for when I wrote ads for political candidates. All my other jobs, too...the last question is always, "why should we choose you?" I doubt I'm the only person who ever had to toot, but when I have to.....I TOOT. I'm sure you can understand that. Maybe his original question would have been more clear in a better context.

Beth Fox Heisinger

"The Greatest Show On Earth" is the title for a film about the Ringling Brothers and the Barnum & Bailey Circus. Perhaps it's even a tagline? Anyway, that's not tooting any one person's horn, that's marketing. Lol!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Bill, in my mind, that's not "tooting your horn" or bragging, that's simply talking about your abilities as a professional; what you bring to the table. Tooting = Bragging. Again, very different. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Yes, be wary of the idiomatic phrase or aphorism! Be sure you are using them clearly and correctly. LOL!

Al Hibbert

Some people can brag up a storm and they come off just fine, others do it and they come off like jerks. I think that's why a lot of artists seek an agent to sell their product. An agent can 'brag' about the person's work for them, and because they're not as emotionally attached to it they don't come off as needy or desperate for attention. But even to get an agent to believe in it an artist, the artist has to make the pitch to him or her. For example, my agent will probably start like this when he's pitching my show- " I tell you - This is the GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! " ha ha

Beth Fox Heisinger

Oh, and Cherie, I pay attention! ;)

Al Hibbert

Am I missing something?

Cherie Grant

I don't know if that's a good thing or not Beth. ;)

Beth Fox Heisinger

Haha! No, no. It's a good thing. Lol!

Dan Guardino

Cherie - I pay attention to your posts!

Mark A. Crawford

Sharing accomplishments are great when expressed in a way that encourages others that they too can achieve a similar goal.

Adam Tester

I think it's good to talk about how great you are once you've sold a few things that are well known, but it also might get old fast.

Al Hibbert

Mark, well said. I think people more than anything just want to tell their stories- so many story tellers, not enough listeners sometimes. But, that's just because everyone is busy.

William Martell

If you have accomplished something, spread the word. If you are bragging about things that haven't happened, wait until they happen (or you'll look like a pre-bragger and a fraud).

Conrad Ekeke

Cherie, no I've not noticed you being repulsive towards me and no, there's nothing about your words used on other posts that I find particular. Though, I apologize for making you feel this way for it must have been a coincidence, trust me it is. However, if this is a subject you can share your views on, and make firm points I think it would help.

Sarah Gabrielle Baron

Don't just blow it, make music.

Conrad Ekeke

Hey everyone, I didn't respond to threads directly because it was important for every opinion to come up fresh and if there's anything anyone has learned from these numerous comments, I think it's worth sharing. However, we can't change the philosophies others have built for themselves because we can make stronger points or bring out the good in everything that's wrong. On this topic, my humble opinion is courage and humility. Those two can blow - toot that flute/horn better. It will permit you watch your steps, it will guide you to and through a just course. Selling a script is just one thing and who is buying it is another. I have sold a script to a buyer who never paid me a cent! I blew my horn, he heard it and liked my melody and came. I was excited, I trusted but then... I regret that today and there's nothing I can do about that. To you who thinks people tell their stories here to brag or something that will directly relate to "tooting one's horn", my word to you is that it's never so. Every story is worth telling and as writers that you are, you must learn to appreciate that and see what intrigues you about the story than the teller. It's not an advice, it's my humble opinion :)

Conrad Ekeke

Hahahah Sarah, music will be bragging but if you must, your music must be best. :)

Dan Guardino

If someone wants someone to read their screenplay or hire you to write one then you really need to tell them if you have accomplished something to show them you know what you are doing. I don't consider that tooting your own horn. However if you say you are a great writer and or you have a great screenplay they will figure you are full of it.

Al Hibbert

Feed back is the only way to get better.

Beth Fox Heisinger

...Just let your work speak for itself. No horns are necessary. Lol! ;)

Conrad Ekeke

Dan, what if you have been unable to make any accomplishments so far but that an opportunity presents for you to prove you can do it? Probably after comparing your work with several others and grading yourself as being a good fit. Will it be advisable to just direct them to read your work? Or if you throw more light on what you're capable of, would it be seen as "tooting your horn"? I think doing both is okay. In a humble manner though. What do you think?

John Marc Bimonte

In art and design that I have done professionally for a while, I always say 'the proof is in the pudding.' In an ideal world, a creative meritocracy, the work would stand, and sell, on its own merits. As artists this is important for us that the work can stand on its own legs. Over time I have softened my view and am less averse to explaining or introducing a work to an audience. Providing a context, a motivation, and sometimes an explanation can help bring a work toward a person and help them appreciate it. Be your own toughest critic, and if the work pleases you, don't be afraid to sing its praises.

Conrad Ekeke

Bravo John, I like your idea about this.

John Marc Bimonte

Thanks Conrad!

Dan Guardino

Conrad. Just mentioning the number of scripts you wrote might be enough to get their attention. That is one of the reasons it is good to have more than screenplay under your belt. I agree with those people that say to "let the work speak for itself" but you have to first convince them that they should take time out of their busy schedules to read your screenplay. The biggest reason screenwriters can't sell a script is because they don't have a track record and they can't get a track record because they can't sell a screenplay. It really is a catch 22. One thing I think helped me get over that was to attach directors that had a lot of credits to my script and use their contacts and credits to help market my screenplay.

Conrad Ekeke

Okay, thanks a lot Dan. That's very true and I think it's an easier way to toot :) lol

Jorge J Prieto

Write, write, write and watch as your written work improves, it has to, then, you will see how much your work zDhas improved, you will see your voice coming through and hopefully realize what kind of writer you are. Just my humble opinion. Now if I may blow my trumpet? I've completed, magic seven screenplays. Nine is my goal by years end. BETH: How about another November Write Challenge, to push me and everyone along?? So we can ALL unite and blow our trumpets at once?

Conrad Ekeke

Hahaha haha... This trumpet thing... Lol

Al Hibbert

Maybe we can eat some crumpets after we blow our trumpets?

Conrad Ekeke

You're "rhymist" too :) love the that crumpets & trumpets. Sure, if we don't blow the trumpets off like... BOOM! Lol

Beth Fox Heisinger

Jorge, yes, I'm sure we could do another Write Club challenge, but at the moment life is a bit hectic. We'll have to come back to that at a later time; talk to the powers that be. Lol! :)

Jorge J Prieto

November is still far away, Beth. We'll come back to the subject, then.

Regina Lee

I can only speak for myself as a producer. If you are asked about your qualifications, I think you must state them objectively in order to properly introduce yourself and to clearly convey your credentials. You should be allowed to take credit for what you've worked hard to achieve. For example, "What are my qualifications? I sold a pilot to HBO in a 4-network competitive situation. I'm so privileged to be working with this proven showrunner. May I tell you about some of my other projects?" Those are objective facts about something I worked hard to achieve. I do not think the optics are as good if you state your qualifications subjectively. For example, "What are my qualifications? I'm a great producer because I sold an awesome pilot to HBO." That's a subjective opinion. But as we all know, people have different styles and being vocal really, really works for some people. Just look at Donald Trump. Many people are buying his claims. So if it's working for Trump to brag, then he has no reason to change his style. There's also the new-ish term "humble-brag" which is all over social media, right? :-)

Conrad Ekeke

Yes Regina. That sounds wonderful. Thank you

Conrad Ekeke

Hahahah and Trump is doing the humble bragging. Lol :)

Regina Lee

I really believe that some people are gifted with great charisma and interpersonal skills, and if they brag, people love it. I am not that lucky! If I brag, people want to throw tomatoes at me. :-)

Conrad Ekeke

That makes the two of us ;)

Dan Guardino

Same here. I always describe myself as a self-taught hack so that way I am sure I didn't set the bar too high.

Conrad Ekeke

Self-taught hack! Sounds "trumpety"... Hey, I'm kidding Dan, I love the sound of that and it's how a true writer should express him/herself. I guess we're buying it, all of us. :D

Vanessa Bailey

What Matt and Dan said! :D

Brian Shell

When a creative doesn't need to tell me how good they are, that's when I know they're good.

Conrad Ekeke

True Brian.

Jorge J Prieto

When a creative can write something that can only come from them. When they are courageous enough to search for stories to which they have a real personal connection, that's when I know they're good. Agreed, Brian? Come on, say yes, brother.

Fiona Faith Ross

Personally, I don't think the writer can say whether his/her work is good or better than good. I think it's for others to say. However, you do know when you've made mistakes or fundamental errors, and if you don't, you need to learn and practise more. I've stopped trying to judge my own work. It's ended up being counterproductive for me and now I write what I write and leave it to others to judge. I hope that doesn't sound pompous. It's not intended that way.

Conrad Ekeke

Yes Jorge. Very true and I've experienced what you say. Fiona, I think that's a good strategy that can get us the attention we most times want but it's true that it's not easy but we must not also give up.

Brian Shell

Jorge and Conrad... agreed. I think the main thing is to express ourselves in a way which expresses our Unique Voice while expressing the tale we hope to tell... with our own unique 'flavor'

Conrad Ekeke

Brian, that's an advice I wouldn't neglect ever. It's a summary of everything that makes a true writer and we hope we all work in that path as you've put it. Thanks man :D

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