Larry Brody: Of Cabbages & Kings & PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019

People's Pilot 2019

by Larry Brody

As many of you already know, PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 opened for entries back on June 1st, and fortune smiled upon us.

As the old-time showbiz trade press might’ve put it, we had a boffo opening weekend, the highest-grossing in the history of TVWriter™ and PEOPLE’S PILOT.

Since then, entries have held steady, and we could be heading for our biggest year in the twenty year history of PEOPLE’S PILOT. We’re a boutique competition, so I’m not talking about thousands of competitors here – nowhere near that, in fact – but seeing the curve go up a bit definitely brings a smile to my face.

The whole “boutique competition” thing has always been something I’m proud of. We’ve deliberately kept PEOPLE’S PILOT lowkey – with little outside advertising and no paid advertising as all – because I’ve always believed that regular TVWriter™ visitors should come first.

A few years ago, though, we brought on a new SEO – that’s marketing, in non-interwebspeak – consultant because I got this weird idea that maybe TVWriter™ should try to actually make a little money. Maybe even turn a profit.

Our SEO Lady is a whiz, truly brilliant when it comes to finding ways to turn unexpected things into moolah, and I put my toe in the water of change.

Ms. SEO’s research had showed that a lot of people hadn’t entered PEOPLE’S PILOT in the past because – of course – we hadn’t spread the word all over the web – and also because we hadn’t been charging a high enough entry fee. She said the $40 fee we’d been asking since the year 2000 made TVWriter™ look “penny ante” and cast doubt on the contest’s validity.

She also showed me how many, probably most, writing contests used tier-priced entry fees, increasing the cost of entering as the end of the submission period approached, and how they also used outside entry sites and lots of paid email blasts to get the word out to more potential entrants. And flash sales! My God, that woman loves flash sales.

I knew Ms. SEO was an expert and that not following her advice meant I was wasting an important resource – her – and a lot of time – my time as well as hers. Because we were trading expertise and experience one each other’s projects instead of slapping each other’s bank accounts with that green stuff so many fools are so soon parted with.

I decided to give a few of her suggestions a try.

I started by raising the submission fee to $50 and trading email blasts with some other writing and intellectual property sites and also listing the PP on a few sites that carry such listings. I also added some special discounts.

The email blasts didn’t accomplish much, and neither did the outside listings. The $50, on the other hand, didn’t seem to scare anyone away, so last year I went a little further and added an outside entry site – FilmFreeway – as a secondary entry path for PP 2018. And I did the flash sale thing a few times.

The flash sales were wonderful. They definitely garnered more entries. FilmFreeway was wonderful too. Through FF we not got more PEOPLE’S PILOT entries, we also got a host of new visitors to TVWriter™. (Hi, newbies, glad you’re still here.)

This year I changed the special discounts around a bit and finally went with Ms. SEO’s pet technique, the tier-priced entry fee thing, adding five bucks a month to the submission price, and there’s no sign that we’re taking any kind of hit as a result…

But I just haven’t been feeling right. Instead of concentrating on the entrants’creativity and enjoying what all of us here at TVWriter™ have been doing for them, I’ve been focusing on increasing our income.

And for me, messing with money just ain’t no fun at all. If I wanted to dedicate myself to the symbol of money and that for which those dollars stand, I would have kept writing and showrunning and arguing with execs and agents, and, well, with everybody. (Because that’s what I did back in the day. I wrote a lot, to be sure, but arguing was the biggest part of the job.)

I look out at the world from my little – very little – forest enclave, and I see things crumbling apart. The earth is burning, my fellow Americans are at each other’s throats, the middle class is history, and society and psyches everywhere are shattered.

Sorry, Ms. SEO, but I just can’t take pride in marketing success.

TVWriter™ and PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 and I are here because I got lucky and achieved not just everything I dreamed of, but more than I’d ever had the chutzpah to dream of.

And the reason we’re here is because I want to help others, oh so many others, achieve their dreams too. I want to help as many people as possible attain the personal power and mastery of their creative craft and immerse themselves in lives of joy and fulfillment.

To do that, to increase the impetus, I’m rolling back PEOPLE’S PILOT’s Official Entry Fee price to $40.

Forty fucking bucks, kids, with no tiered pricing, the same price we charged way back in 2000, right around the time so many of you were kids whose dreams hadn’t yet become distorted by reality’s light.

That’s the price I’m putting up on the PEOPLE’S PILOT 2019 website right now.

And it’ll be there till PP 2019 closes at Midnight, November 1st, 2019.

No more monthly increases.

No paid-for eblasts or ads on other sites to bring in strangers to our little storytelling campfire here.

But more flash sales. Absolutely.

And, if after PP 2019 is over, we do find ourselves with more entry fee dollars than before, more prize money spread among more top finishers, if not for this year’s contest, then definitely next time around.

Uh-oh, almost forgot. I don’t want anyone to misunderstand. Ms. SEO is a fine person and good friend, and I appreciate all the input she’s given me. In fact, to show my appreciation, I’m using an idea of hers that I’ve been rejecting since we first met.

Never mind that forty buck price. I’m going to practice good old tried and true – and corny as hell – SEO pricing.  As of right this minute, the revised Official Entry Price is…

How many of you know what’s coming?

$39.95 per entry.

A steal, amIright?


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Author: LB

A legendary figure in the television writing and production world with a career going back to the late ’60s, Larry Brody has written and produced hundreds of hours of American and worldwide television and is a consultant to production companies and networks in the U.S. and abroad . Shows written or produced by Brody have won several awards including - yes, it's true - Emmys, Writers Guild Awards, and the Humanitas Award.