Screenwriting Question: Which Agent?

A screenwriter recently sent me this question via email:

Which screenwriting agent should I get?

This is an interesting question that assumes two things:

1. Your screenplay is good enough to land an agent.

2. You need an agent to sell your screenplay.

Let me answer the second point first.  (Because it’s more confusing that way…) 

So you’ve written a screenplay – or two – and you want to attract attention, and perhaps even sell the darn thing.  Now what?

Well, there are a few ways to go. 

A great book on the subject is Breakfast with Sharks.  Michael Lent covers most of the ways screenwriters go about selling your screenplay, and discusses his experience in a straightforward, and honest manner.  Query letters, cold calls, the basics of networking – it’s all there.

I don’t want to read a whole book, I just want to sell the darn thing.

Okay, okay, check out Ashley’s post from SellingYourScreenplay.com:

How to Get an Agent for your Screenplay (And Why You Don’t Need One!)

This gets to point #2 above.  A great way to get an agent – especially your first agent – is to directly approach producers yourself.  Write a great query letter and send it to producers who make similar films – or at least films in your genre. 

Then wait for them to request your script.  Which leads me to point #1.

Point #1: Is your script ready to go?

The number one mistake of a writer is to show your work too early.  I have made this mistake.  I still make it.

Let’s say a production company love your query letter and requests your script.  Awesome!  You’re on your way.

Unless…

You send your script before it’s ready.  The company reads it, hates it, and doesn’t want to read anything from you in the future.

Think this won’t happen?  Maybe, maybe not.  In the digital age, it’s easy to keep track of who wrote what. 

How do you know when your script is ready? 

It’s easy to get excited about your screenplay.  You just finished it – you want to show it to people!

But wait!  Instead of trying to sell it, first, give it to a few friends who regularly read screenplays.  Get feedback from critical people.  You might even enlist the help of, I don’t know, a screenplay consultant?  A script doctor?  Ones named Eric?  :)

In all seriousness, this is one of the reasons I set up my script consultation service.  I’ve read so many scripts submitted to agencies and production companies that simply weren’t ready. 

And did any of the writers’ future scripts get requested?  What do you think…

Make sure your screenplay is as good as you can make it BEFORE sending it out.  Then you’ll have a better shot to impress the reader/agent/producer. 

Write a good script and even if they don’t buy it, you just might make a fan.  And that’s a great way to get your foot in the door.

So which agent?  The one that will read your well-written screenplay.  :)

Hope that helps!  

And…

Onward!

-Eric

Have a question?  Email me or use my Online Screenwriting Question Form

4 Responses to Screenwriting Question: Which Agent?

  1. Anthony says:

    You make it seem like its easy to get the information of a Producer/ers.

  2. Doug says:

    Hey Eric!

    Are there issues with agents’ disinterest in a script that producers or production companies have seen?

    I mean, say a producer at a mid-sized production company requests, reads—and hates—your script. How much would that be a turnoff for an agent who’d otherwise (ie based on the work itself) be interested?

    Assuming you don’t lie your little teeth out, that is. :)

    • Eric says:

      Doug!

      That is a really good question and somewhat debated…

      I’d say it’s a slight risk you take when going to producers first instead of agents and managers.

      If you want to be extra-extra safe, query managers first, then agents, then producers…

      If you ARE lucky enough to get an agent or manager excited about your script, and you’ve already shown it to a few producers, you DEFINITELY want to tell them which producers you’ve shown it to. You can wait until after they’ve agreed to be your representation, or do it before – it’s up to you. They may or may not have a relationship with that producer (odds are pretty low), but it’s good idea to keep your representation in the loop.

      But in the end, while your question COULD be a concern, as someone just starting out, it’s been my experience that it’s tough to get ANYONE’S attention. Right now, it’s more important just to accumulate fans of your work..producers, agents, managers…

      And ESPECIALLY their assistants…

      Build a fan base. Then continually churn out great scripts and watch that base grow.

      -Eric