Ok... so in order to get your name out there and get your writing in front of people you need to master the art of Cold Calling. I... am not a master. But I do know the importance of the activity.
I get butterflies in my stomach as I'm dialing the phone. I sit and re-read and re-read and re-read email queries over and over until I'm satisfied that they are 100% perfect... Inevitably I go back to them a day later and BAM! Spelling mistake, or I've accidentally repeated a word a dozen times. I think even veterans have this issue. BUT! Its an exercise that needs to be done.
Most of my cold calls are for interviews for the Website. Contacted people I don't know or haven't spoken to in years is difficult and uncomfortable. So here's a couple of tricks I use to make it a little less like a job interview.
1) Know your stuff. If they ask a question of you, you need an answer. So if you're pitching a show, know your world. So when they ask you... Why do the Purple dragons eat only vegetables and the Green dragons only marshmallows you can easily answer with something that sound splausible.
2) Know who you're calling. Find out about them people, the company, their prod. history and make sure that what you're ptiching is something they'd be interested in. If you're pitching a Sci-Fi Epic to a Documentary company you'll look like an ass.
3) Remember the worste thing that can happen is they tell you they are not interested. You have nothing to lose.
4) Remember your stuff is GOOD! I mean really good... BE confident, and self assured... but don't be a jerk about it. People LOVE to offer opinions... and yes, I'm sure you put everything you have into your script or show, but remember. You going to them. Show them that you know your stuff. That you are confident that you can do the job and get results... but that you're open to their ideas and expertise.
5) MAKE SURE ITS READY... Don't make a single call until you have something polished to show them. It's really hard to rattle off a completely polished script in 24hrs. So be prepared for them to say... Can you send us a sample? Make sure its polished. Get some expert Coverage done. Make sure you've dotted you I's and crossed your T's. A sloppy script won't sell... an unfinished script... unless you're Paul Haggis or Quentin Tarantino won't sell either... They can sell concepts... We're not so lucky...
6) If its a phone cold call... Rehearse with a friend. Have them pretend to be the producer and go through your pitch. It sounds stupid, but at the end of the day the more you go over it the more you know what will work and what won't. You don't want to run at the mouth and sound like an idiot on the phone. You want your conversation to be as polished as your script.
7) FOR GOD SAKES keep it short. Don't linger. A query letter is a page. Be breif. Answer questions, be informative, but don't ramble. Again... you'll sound like a Noob!
I have rehearsed cold calls in front of a mirror before. Just to get an idea of what I would sound like. I've also recorded myself answering questions to make sure I'm not shooting myself in the foot.
At the end of the day, the best advice I can offer that has helped me is... be prepared.
Anyway... Time for a few more calls...