Yesterday, I went to London to attend Meet the Agents – a Q and A Panel, held by the Writers Guild. Well, I didn’t just go to London for that, I also went up to do a bit of shopping and dining (as you do) but at 7pm headed off to Chancery Lane to meet representatives from The Agency, Casarotto Ramsey & Associates Ltd and Ki Agency. First of all, it’s lovely to see that these hallowed creatures are indeed human, and not only that, they’ve got a great sense of humour! On a personal level, I’ve been wondering if the next step for me is to get an agent and this helped me to make up my mind – basically, not yet. I’m ambling along quite nicely, building up a body of work (very important nowadays the agents insisted if you want to be considered by them), making great connections and enjoying freedom of direction. Another year or two and I’ll take stock. Meanwhile, it’s good to hear from the horses mouth just what they can/can’t offer. Here it is…
Agents look after:
Negotiation of fees
Ensure fees are paid
Developing a writer’s career (eg advising what you should be writing/branding)
Encourage you to keep writing (when you’re convinced no one cares!)
They’re someone to turn to with any writing concerns you may have.
How to Approach:
Research your agent; only apply to those interested in what you are doing.
When emailing/posting, make sure you spell their name right!
Show professional attitude, recognise that you are asking an agent to invest in your work.
Leave a period of a month to six weeks before you chase an enquiry.
Before you approach an agent make sure you have a body of work – agents want to see that you are a serious writer and not a one-trick pony.
The relationship is bespoke.
Communicate with agents re events, eg meeting a producer at an event, give the agent feedback, it may prove invaluable to them.
Don’t rest on your laurels thinking your work is done just because you’ve got an agent, KEEP WRITING!
Deliver on time anything you are asked for (although it might not be read on time!).
Learn how to be good in a ‘meeting’ situation – contacts are essential.
Being placed can take time, sometimes a lot of time (we’re talking years here!) – be patient.
Earning a Living from Writing:
Chris Lund was used as an example; it took him six years to become an overnight success!
It can move slowly at first re earnings but can accelerate the more work you build up (without sacrificing quality of course!).
The minute you give up is the minute it won’t happen.
Right now is considered a good time to translate books to film. If you’ve got a series of books you think would make good TV/films, approach an agent with that specifically in mind.
Advice to the Agented and the Agent-Less:
Write what you are passionate about – approach agents with that.
If you’ve already had an agent and parted ways, reinvent yourself; respond to changes in the profession.
Consider an interesting new take on something that’s been successful.
Try a different approach to a different medium, novelist to scriptwriter or vice versa.
See what is on TV at the moment, what is popular – ensure what you are writing has an audience.
Radio drama is often overlooked, an unsung area. If you are interested, listen to what’s on Radio 4, who the producer is, can email them directly with a pitch. You DON’T need an agent to work for radio.
Make your writing exciting – interest/passion is infectious.
Offer an original voice.
Questions to Ask an Agent Face-to-Face:
What deals have you done recently that excited you the most? This is a way of checking how high profile they are.
What are the biggest challenges in the industry right now? This is a way of checking that they know what’s going on in the industry!
Best Way to Find an Agent:
The Writer and Artist’s Yearbook
Look for up and coming agents who are building lists. They are more likely to take you on than an established agent.
Agents believe it’s a case of when you should approach an agent, not if. However, some publishers will read your work without an agent (which is well worth remembering!) Whichever route you choose, good luck with it!
The Writer’s Guild: http://writersguild.org.uk/meet-the-agents/