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Asked and Answered: Query letters as unsolicited submissions?

Q: As a TV/film screenwriter I've sent short pitches and query letters to several agents. Some have responded with requests to see my work, but other have returned my queries with a “no unsolicited” material letter from the submissions department. I have two questions: 1) Since when is a query to an agent unsolicited material and can anything be done about it? 2) As I am over 40 years old, since the TV Writers Settlement on age discrimination is there anyway to encourage agents to at least review my work?

A: You're encountering the catch-22 most writers face as they're getting started out.  It's difficult to get anyone to review your work, unless it's recommended to them by someone they trust, but you can't get those recommendations until someone has read the work.

The meaning of “unsolicited” is that the recipient of the submission has not specifically asked for it.    Now, a short query isn't usually returned in this way, but some companies may take a harder line than others.    The bottom line is that you'll encounter this from time to time.  Some agencies may not be taking on new clients, so they're not reading any queries.

As for the age-discrimination argument,  I daresay that the law can't force people to consider representing anyone.   If you're a member of the WGA,  you might want to take this up with them.

Actually, though, unless it's a rather unusual query, the recipient shouldn't even know the age of the sender.   So, based on the question, I suspect you're submitting more than mere queries.  That may be part of the reason you're getting returns marked ‘unsolicited'.

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One Response to Asked and Answered: Query letters as unsolicited submissions?

  1. I noted that the last question mention age discrimination because he is over 40. Is there really an age limit on screenwriters? I started writing about 5 years ago, using my life experiences to develop interesting stories.
    I have a BS in Electronic Engineering, 20 years retired from the Army and have experienced 26 countries and 2 wars.
    When submitting my work I have called out my life experiences, thinking that it makes me sound like a seasoned writer, but I still can’t get anyone to read my work.
    Am I shooting myself in the foot by calling out my credentials?

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