"NOT FOR US"Complications Ensue
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Tuesday, February 22, 2005

A reader writes in to ask if "It's not for us" means it's too edgy and she should tone her piece down.

"It's not for us" means "We didn't like it and we don't feel like telling you why, 'cause you'll probably argue with us about how we're wrong about whatever it is we're saying we don't like, and we don't want to give you anything to argue about." "It's not for us" means "next!" You can't read anything into it. Nothing at all.

Most people won't like most of your stuff. And that's if you're successful. The difference between successful and unsuccessful here is that, if you're successful, some people like some of your stuff.

I don't give rejections a second thought. Frankly, I don't give submissions a second thought. That way lies pain. I send my stuff to an agent or publisher or whatever, and forget about it. If they're interested, they'll call me. If they're not interested, they won't. If they have to be cajoled into being interested, their interest isn't going to be worth very much anyway.

This is not the case when you want a meeting. Then you're trying to get in the door by any means necessary, on the theory that once they see you, they'll love you; and anyway, they'll remember your face. But if they have already received your material (including a query) and they don't get on the phone to you, forget'em and move on.


As a director of development for a production company (as well as an independent writer) I use the "It's not for us" line a lot. With the limited amount of time I have to get back to writers, it doesn't make sense for me to get into detail with every single one of them as to why I'm turning them down.

The easiest way to look at it, as a writer, is to realize that production companies only have a limited development fund from which they can purchase or option new material. After that, it's going to be a year or two of their time to turn that script into a film. That's a lot of time to devote to something they even like but don't love. We always say that we have to feel completely passionate about something in order to consider taking the step toward development or production. You could have a very good script, but if it doesn't completely resonate with the person reading it, it doesn't matter. Close doesn't count. Usually.

By Blogger Your gracious host, at 8:16 PM  

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