What Is Script Coverage?
When a producer or agent receives your screenplay submission, they rely on a Script Reader to read the script and produce a “coverage report.” The report typically includes a synopsis of the story, some reader comments, and why it worked for them (or didn’t). The Script Reader will then rate your screenplay with a standard “Pass, Consider, or Recommend” rating. Only those submissions rated “Recommend” will move up the chain.
What Do the Standard Coverage Ratings Really Mean?
In line with industry, 95% of all screenplays submitted to TSL Notes will receive a Pass rating. This doesn’t mean give up and go back to your day job. Rather, you’ll get expert advice to help you refine your story idea or completed script. 4% of screenplays will receive a Consider rating. This means your screenplay is in great shape, but you have some minor tune-ups to complete before submitting to an agent or producer. Only 1% of screenplays receive a Recommend rating from TSL Notes. If your work gets this rating, start submitting to industry contacts pronto!
What Does the TSL Stoplight™ Indicator Mean?
As TSL Notes offers screenwriters the chance to get professional feedback during the earliest stages of the development process — namely, the The First 20 Pages, The Treatment, and The Rough Draft packages — we felt it was important to provide an easy, heads-up indicator for moving your story forward (or not), prior to the standard “Pass/Consider/Recommend” rating process for a completed work. Stop means that your story has some fatal flaws from the reader’s professional perspective. Caution means that the story has promise, but needs enough revision that you should address the issues before proceeding with your screenplay or treatment. Go means you are on the right track and should move forward on completing your story. Keep in mind that the reader’s notes will provide you with specific feedback supporting the indicator your submission receives.
Why Is Professional Screenplay Coverage Useful?
A producer or agent will only give your screenplay to a Script Reader for coverage once. Using a professional coverage service like TSL Notes prior to submission to the industry helps your work have a shot at getting past that first gatekeeper, the Script Reader. Our readers will provide you with valuable feedback on how to improve your screenplay — from an objective, professional, and experienced vantage point.
Why Can’t I Just Get Feedback from Other Writers (or Friends & Family)?
The entertainment and media industry is not for the faint of heart, nor for rose-colored glasses. It is, at its core, a business. So while you may certainly rely on your own personal and professional networks to provide you with feedback on your screenplay, it is the cold, hard professional guidance that will help you take your work to the next level.
What If I Haven’t Finished My Screenplay Yet?
While most paid coverage services focus only on completed screenplays or teleplays, TSL Notes offers aspiring or first-time screenwriters the opportunity to get low-cost feedback at the earliest stages of the writing process — with our The First 20 Pages service for feature screenplays, The Treatment service for television, or The Rough Draft for shorts.
Who Are the Readers Behind TSL Notes?
Our reader network is made up of professionals who’ve served as gatekeepers on the front lines of the entertainment and media industry. Most of our readers have at least 2 years’ experience in the industry and have worked at a management company, production company, or talent agency as a script reader or writer’s assistant. Each reader goes through a rigorous background confirmation, interview process, and coverage sample review. As we strive to continually offer you objective, actionable, and (sometimes) sobering feedback at all stages of the development process, our readers must also maintain complete anonymity at all times.
May I Work with the Same Reader Over Time?
Absolutely. As you evolve your script from your first 20 pages through complete drafts to your final draft, you may choose to stay with the same reader for an additional fee of $15 per analysis. Please note that we may need to extend our turnaround time by up to 48 hours, to allow for availability of the requested reader.
What If My Screenplay Exceeds the Page Limits in the Service Package?
As a rule of thumb, feature film screenplays should not be longer than 120 pages (roughly one page per minute of screen time); television sitcom or drama teleplays should be no longer than 30 or 60 pages, respectively. You should consider trimming your work prior to submitting to us. However, should capturing your story demand the additional pages, we’re happy to read them all. You will be charged an overage fee of $1 per page, per analysis.
Is My Intellectual Property Safe with TSL Notes?
All of the readers in our partner network must accept and adhere to strict terms and conditions to remain part of it. Your work is password protected and never shared with anyone besides your assigned reader. The coverage management system used to manage the review process also maintains a permanent record of every reader who covers your work over time. And, regardless of whether you take advantage of TSL Notes coverage, you should consider registering your work with the WGAW Registry, the industry standard in the creation of legal evidence for the protection of writers and their work.
Are There Any Exceptions on Turnaround Time?
TSL Notes is committed to a maximum turnaround time of 3 days (72 hours or less) for the vast majority of coverage orders. There are three exceptions to our turnaround time commitment:
- Same reader requests, where we may need extra time to allow for availability of the requested reader
- Spec teleplays, where we may need extra time to allow for availability of a reader who knows the show
- Orders on holiday weeks — Thanksgiving; Christmas; New Year’s; Easter; Memorial Day; Fourth of July; and Labor Day. During these periods, we extend our turnaround time to up to 5 days (120 hours or less), to enable our readers to enjoy quality time with family and friends.
If my completed screenplay receives a Recommend rating, will it be sent out for consideration?
TSL Notes and the feedback our readers provide are designed solely to help screenwriters develop their craft, improve their stories, and ensure that their work is industry-ready. Regardless of your screenplay’s rating, we do not share your script with any outside parties for review, consideration and/or feedback. On occasion, we are queried by the industry as to whether we have Recommend-rated scripts that meet their specific parameters (genre, budget, etc.) In those cases, we simply connect the two parties, with the writer’s prior approval.
Should you have any additional questions, please visit our knowledgebase first. Should you not find the answers there, contact The Script Lab support team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. (We do our best to respond to most inquiries within 24 hours or on the next business day.)