Every once in a while, someone with a new screenwriting book or seminar or product asks me to write a review. Unfortunately, I often have to decline after trying the product or reading the book.
This is not one of those cases.
When I was asked to read The Hollywood Pitching Bible by Douglas Eboch and Ken Aguado, I was intrigued — there are a plethora of books about screenwriting itself, but I haven’t seen many specifically about pitching. I was suspicious that Douglas and Ken might simply regurgitate run-of-the-mill advice, but after reading the first chapter, I was hooked.
The authors have put together a guide that is straightforward, insightful, and full of practical advice that both novice and professional screenwriters can benefit from. They cover everything from developing story ideas to how to behave in an actual meeting. Both feature and television pitches are covered, but an emphasis is placed on feature pitches. The Hollywood Pitching Bible is a book you can read in a few nights, and the knowledge you’ll gain will stay with you throughout your career.
Now, many budding screenwriters who have yet to make a sale might feel like studying up on how to pitch might be a bit premature. Why learn how to sell before you’ve mastered how to write? The simple answer (which Douglas and Ken cover in the book) is that understanding what will sell will make you a better writer. The book covers not only how to develop a pitch for an existing script, but also how to develop a pitch from an idea. If you can’t create a good pitch for your idea, it probably means your story isn’t well developed. In other words, you can use the pitching method described in this book to help you develop and outline your ideas, making sure that your story is high concept and saleable before you set pen to paper (or finger to keyboard).
Another key reason to learn the art of pitching before you’ve made your first sale is that pitching will more likely than not be precisely how you make your first sale or get your first manager or agent. Pitching is an important part of this business — you won’t be able to succeed without doing it. So start learning now!
Douglas wrote the original script for Sweet Home Alabama, and Ken is a studio exec and producer who has bought and sold numerous pitches. Together, Douglas and Ken provide insights on pitching from both the perspective of the pitcher and the person being pitched.