I get a lot of emails from complete strangers with TV series they want me to help them sell. This one is typical:
I am coming into Los Angeles on a trip. If you are free this week, I would like to buy you lunch. I have created a TV series I think you would like. All the scripts are written so all you have to do is sell it.
Is that all? Here's another:
I enjoyed reading your Successful Television Writing book. I have read everything on the subject and yours is superior. I am a writer from Vermont, new to Hollywood, with a fully written TV series in my back pocket. Is there any chance I could buy you lunch some time? XYZ and XYZ are my mentors, if you need references.
If he read my book, then he'd know this is not the way to get your series sold. Not only were the two people he used as references not friends of mine, I'd never heard of either one of them. Turns out one of the guys is among the six credited writers on a Big Tentpole Superhero Movie, the other is a guy who wrote Saturday morning cartoons in the 70s. As mentors go, though, they aren't doing a great job. The first thing they should have told him is not to hit up complete strangers to help you sell your series…and certainly not a guy who hasn't succeeded in getting a series of his own on the air.
Here's another one, from a "an actor/writer who resides in the Bible belt of the USA":
For the past year I have been working on a series I want to pitch to network. I had an agent that was going to help me out. She asked a producer friend to read the short sizzle script. Producer said it was defiantly worth shopping around, next thing I knew that agent was closing her doors. She couldn’t handle the stress of the biz. Now after talking to a producer in LA that says it is worth shopping around as well. Told to expand it into an hour drama instead of the 30 min one, and get together a budget. […]I’m currently trying to find a more flexible job in the industry so I can pursue my acting/writing career and looking for a mentor to guide me. I look forward to hearing from you.
I have been in the TV business for over twenty years and I have no idea what a "short sizzle script" is. Maybe I need a mentor to guide me. And if she's already talked to "a producer in LA that says it is worth shopping around," why isn't she busy shopping the project with him instead of contacting strangers like me?