How to Sell a Story Idea

by Vanessa Cross; Updated September 26, 2017
Sell your story idea with clarity and professionalism.

Do you have an article, book, play or script idea you want to get produced or published? Then you will have to sell the story idea to the right parties. Proper research, planning and professional communications can help your idea get green-lighted.

Items you will need

  • Story Idea
  • Computer
  • Printer
Step 1

Review writers market publications. Various publications provide annual information and contact lists for writers markets in both book format and through online databases. For instance, The Writers Market series serves nonfiction, fiction, poetry, scriptwriting and other niche-specific markets.

Step 2

Compile a contact list of prospects who may be interested in your story idea. Knowledge of their recent productions or publications, or those of their competitors, are great indicators of potential areas of interest. Be prepared to identify the type of audience that would be drawn to your story idea. This can be a very important business selling point, because financial investments to develop story ideas often are quite costly.

Step 3

Check the company's website to find out if they have submission guidelines available online. If not, call the office and inquire about the proper way to submit a story idea. Some agencies only accept story-idea submission through agents or legal counsel. In contrast to such stringent submission standards, Broadcasting & Cable reported that the Current TV cable channel, co-founded by Al Gore, will allow story idea and storyboard submissions in what it describes as a move away from "passive participation" to one that "allow[s] viewers to become true programming partners." This might be a great way for novices to develop experience.

Step 4

Draft a pitch letter after reading the agency's story idea submission guidelines. The pitch letter should have a clear and concise synopsis of the story idea. Include a paragraph on why the story would appeal to the company's audience or gain the attention of previously untapped audiences. Also, explain why you are the best person to write and/or produce the story idea. Include closing thank-yous to the reader for reviewing your correspondence, as well as your contact information and a self-addressed stamped envelope for the convenience of the reviewer's reply.

Step 5

Make a follow-up phone call. If guidelines specify time period to receive a reply, do not call before the deadline. If no time frame is provided from the agency, wait a couple of weeks to call. First check to find out if the correspondence has been received. If a response is not available at that time, politely request an estimated time frame for a reply.

Tips

  • Think outside of the box when developing your next story idea. There have been many media content innovations in storytelling, such as the rise of reality-show programming.

Warnings

  • This article is for information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for legal or tax advice.

About the Author

Vanessa Cross has practiced law in Tennessee and lectured as an adjunct professor on law and business topics. She has also contributed as a business writer to news publications such as the "Chicago Tribune" and published in peer-reviewed academic journals. Cross holds a B.A. in journalism, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in international business law.

Photo Credits