I don't care if you've written 2 or 20 screenplays. It's got to be one of the biggest pains in the ass and most unnerving things you'll ever do. I have people to hand the script to when it's done, but even when you have someone, it's not guaranteed that they'll send it out, or even like it. I've been though about 6 or 7 agents and managers over the years because they wouldn't send my material out to studios.
"Given the marketplace, I don't think this will sell right now. Let's put this on the back burner and come back to it in a few months (they never do). What's your next idea?"
"I don't think the idea is big enough (even though when I pitched it to you four months ago you loved it)."
"I need a big spec sale to get you going. No one wants to read new writers right now (if no one wants to read new writers, why am I writing a spec?)"
Whatever fucking excuse they come up with--it's all bull shit. Remember, agents and managers make money by selling things. At any given time they might have 100-150 clients. How many of them are writing a screenplay right now? How many of them are getting screwed over just like you?
A lot of them.
Your agent might send out a spec or two a week, maybe. And, half the time it's something they've picked up 'off the street.' By this, I mean, someone has sent them a spec that they think might sell, so they send it out, and 'hip pocket' the writer. If it sells, or is positively received, they sign them, if it doesn't, they don't. They're throwing shit against the wall constantly.
And, I don't mean that in the pejorative sense. An agent or manager is an intellectual property salesperson. They're selling ideas, all day. Any salesperson or representative is dealing in high volume, otherwise they'd never sell anything. Do you want to be an agent? I don't.
Hollywood is a numbers game. The more you put out there, the better chance you have to sell something and make money. It's that simple, and you have to respect that. You don't have to like it, but you have to respect it.
That said, when I started out 15 years ago, agents and managers used to build careers. About ten years ago, the business started leaning heavily toward sending out "ready" spec material. Meaning, if I'm an agent, I used to look for talented writers, and work with them, try to get them noticed, get development execs to read their material, and hopefully meet with you. After 2 or 3 specs, everyone 'knows' you, and they are becoming increasingly more likely to buy something from you (or hire you to write or fix something else) because you're talented and they keep seeing you.
All that shit went out the window.
People in the business today have become incredibly impatient.
"I need scripts that are ready to go." Meaning they need a script that they think will sell right now. They don't care if it comes from a client, or some 8th grader who's still picking his boogars and eating them. No more career buidling, no more sending a script out just because it's funny, or well written--it's all about the idea. No one gives a shit about anything else, frankly.
There's never been a time when your material needs to be better. As I always say, "You can't change the business, you can only learn how to navigate the insanity."
So, the point is, even though I've sold stuff, even though I have 'people', my chances of selling something are still the same as yours. That's the reality of it all, and I'm fine with it.
So, here I am, writing a brand new spec screenplay for the first time in two years (I've written four TV pilots, and turned one into a feature length script--which of course, my manager didn't want to send out even though every person he sent it to thought it was hilarious--"there were too many projects like it in the marketplace already." Add that to your list of excuses you'll hear). I'm writing something autobiographical--writing what I know--about something that happened to me that I think was pretty remarkable. Better--I'm writing it for myself.
You never know what it's going to be, and when it's going to happen.
So, you gotta just write.