How to Sell TV Show Ideas to Big Producers

Written by carl carabelli
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How to Sell TV Show Ideas to Big Producers
Selling a TV show to a big producer is not an easy task. (executive teamwork image by Andrey Kiselev from

Everyone has had an idea for a great television show at one point in his life. Many people are convinced that they have the next big hit. Some people even go so far as to develop those ideas. It is a select few, however, who make it in front of the big time producers to pitch their ideas. In order to sell them on your idea, you must be confident, engaging and above all, have an idea that stands out above the drivel that gets pitched to them on a regular basis.

Skill level:

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  1. 1

    Create a logline. This is a one or two-sentence synopsis of the proposed television show. For example, "a group of individuals are forced to survive on a mysterious island after their plane crashes" describes the show "Lost." "A group of wrongfully-convicted soldiers go on the lam, offering their services to those in need" is "The A-Team." Make sure your logline is compelling or you won't even get through the door.

  2. 2

    Hire an agent. It is an unfortunate reality in the entertainment business that you will not even get an appointment to pitch your television show to a big producer without an agent. You can find a list of agents on the Writer's Guild of America web site ( Send queries, network, do whatever you can. You have practically no chance of selling your show without representation.

  3. 3

    Find producers who specialise in your genre. You don't want to pitch your show about a dental hygienist to the vampire community to the producer of "Gilmore Girls." Nor would you want to take your serious cop-drama pilot to the creators of "Family Guy." There are always exceptions, but typically, if a producer has produced five science fiction shows, his sixth show will likely be sci-fi as well.

  4. 4

    Write your show's bible. A television show bible is a master book of all the show's plots, secrets, twists, characters, motivations, etc. The more you know about your show and the direction that you're going to take it beyond the pilot, the more effective you will be in pitching the idea. If you don't know where the plot is going beyond the pilot episode, it will be unlikely that you will have enough to sustain a full season.

  5. 5

    Modify your idea to make it unique. Chances are high that your producer has already heard your concept before. The trick is to take familiar concepts and stories and switch them up to make them stand out. Give the stripper a genius-level IQ or make the grizzled war veteran a florist. The same old ideas just won't cut it.

  6. 6

    Pitch your idea. Don't be intimidated by the big producers. They may be jaded by the majority of sub-par ideas that are sent their way, but they are looking for the next big hit. Keep your pitch short, between 10 and 15 minutes. Any longer, and you may start to lose them. Be enthusiastic and confident in your vision. Cast any doubts aside as they can always be addressed once the show is picked up.

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