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What Is This “Be That One In A Hundred” Phrase In My Book Title All About?

And Who’s Claiming To Know?

As for who’s writing these books and making claims to have information, please see my bio at (right side of the page) and read the homepage blurb on the research I’ve done to gain some understanding of this subject.

As to “That One In A Hundred”:

Well, first, it might not be a hundred. “One In A Hundred” is a convenient way of talking about the numerical odds of selling or optioning a screenplay to the U.S. movie industry (and probably the British or Australian, and maybe the French, Chinese, Bollywood, Nigerian, and other movie and TV industries).

Your numerical chances might well be a bit better than a hundred, or a bit lower. No one knows because no one has any real statistics on how many screenplays are proffered and how many sold. The phrase is a convenience, not a definitive statistical declaration.

The goal of my books is to help you increase those odds substantially by avoiding the mistakes which the other 99+/- percent make. It might also help you to market your screenplay(s) and yourself as a writer more effectively.

This first book in the series is about what many aspiring screenwriters do “wrong” (“wrong” in the eyes of the industry) which reduce their chances of making it as a screenwriter.

My purpose in researching and writing it was to inform (not give my opinions, but actually inform, based on factual research) aspiring screenwriters about what gets in the way of success.

Some people reading this commentary are bound to think, “Well, who needs a book like this? It’s all pretty simple. You just ...”

Yes, it’s simple. What it is not is obvious to most new screenwriters.

For example, suppose you just wrote the greatest box-office-bonanza screenplay since “Casablanca” or “Gone With the Wind” or “Star Wars.”

Then, you just “get an agent,” and then your next “Casablanca” or ”Gone With The Wind” or ”Star Wars,” appears on 3500 screens nationwide next year, and has a run so long that people forget there ever was a “Casablanca,” or a “Gone With the Wind” (which, counting by ticket sales and adjusted for inflation, is still the top-grossing movie of all time, I think), a zillion samolians come your way, you buy that Malibu Colony mansion, and you show up at the Academy Awards to pick up your little gold statuette.

No. Doesn’t work. If you copied “Casablanca” or “Gone With the Wind” or “Star Wars” and renamed it, and sent it out to a hundred Hollywood agents under your name with no other produced credits, not one of them would get back to you. At least 99 agencies wouldn’t even read it, and the one person who opened the envelope and maybe passed it on to a reader at the hundredth wouldn’t recognize it.

That route to success doesn’t work anymore.

I’m not blaming agents.

OK, I am, to a degree. As marketers of work for unknown, unproduced feature screenwriters, they suck. Marketing unknowns and their work is not their expertise. Even if it were, marketing is so much work, and the response rate is so low, that they’d still put all their marketing efforts into their established clients with production credits.

That is, even if they were good marketers, they wouldn’t market well on your behalf. Why? There are a hundred thousand or more of you aspiring screenwriters, but only a few hundred agents, all of whom have full client lists.

So do the math. “Write screenplay, get agent” is not a viable approach for you, the unknown writer.

The good news is that there are many approaches that DO work. They are discussed in chapter 8, and will be discussed at greater length in a second book.

But first, you need to know what doesn’t work, and how your own pet fantasies are working against your success. And that’s what this book is about: how to avoid or stop doing the things that don’t work, and how to change your attitude if it is holding you back.

That’s what Be That One In A Hundred is about. Doing the smart things and not doing the dumb things, as the industry sees them.

It’s for sale in both digital and paperback formats. Go to the book order page to order.

Bill Donovan


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