Meet the Agents!

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:

Contracts

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.

 

Once Signed:

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.

Collaborate.

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 Internet

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/

 

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10 thoughts on “Meet the Agents!

  1. Thank you for this, Shani. Like you, I dont think I need an agent just yet – if at all! It seems we’ve found a good publisher in the CCs, and I use the Society of Authors free help with contracts. Dont want other people telling me what to write either….

  2. Whether an author is currently looking for an agent or not, this is a really interesting post, Shani. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Good article, Shani. Whilst most of the ‘what to do’ has been around for a while – it doesn’t hurt to remind us what we should or shouldn’t be doing. The Questions to Ask an Agent Face-to-Face are good too. All interviews are hard, and basically approaching an agent is like an interview for a job and it is a two-way exercise. Hopefully, for those taking the agented route the relationship will be long and happy so best to get off on a good note.

    • Those are the questions the agent wants you to ask, June, they want to know that you are taking a professional interest in the state of the industry too. All very interesting and you also get an idea of just how big their workload is. It seems the whole world wants to write now!

  4. Excellent, clear piece, Shani. Thank you. Though I did wonder about the advice to check TV, etc, to see what’s popular and that there is an audience. If you’re doing that how can you ‘offer an original voice’, much less ‘write what you are passionate about’? Just a thought.

    • Yes, I thought that was slightly contradictory, Kathy – we want an original voice but then again, go check what’s selling and emulate! I suppose what they meant was check what’s selling at the moment and find a new angle on it. Mind you, we all know there’s a huge market for just plain copying what’s selling at the moment, right down to covers being practically the same (naming no names however!!).

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