1. Don’t be afraid to talk about money. Writing may be your passion but it is also your business. It’s not a hobby.
2. If you have an agent tell the producer they must speak to your agent before anything is agreed.
3. Let your agent know that you can’t afford to work for free. If your agent encourages you to work for free you may need a new agent.
4. Always be polite but firm.
5. If a producer wants to shop your idea around without taking an option on it, make it clear that – without an option – they don’t have exclusive rights to your work. You are free to show the idea to other producers. And you intend to do so.
6. If they suggest you do a treatment or an extended synopsis or a first draft or any other development work, ask them what they will be paying.
7. If they say they have no money for development, tell them your overheads mean you can’t afford to work for free.
8. It is rarely, if ever, true that there really is ‘no money’. If you stand firm you may be surprised by what you achieve.
9. Be prepared to walk away. If a producer is really interested they’ll find a way to pay you. If they won’t pay, they probably don’t value your idea enough.
The above is taken from Free is NOT an Option: A Good Practice Guide for TV Writers, Agents and Programme Makers.