Typing Faster

October 12, 2009

Landing an Agent (Canadian)

Filed under: Agents — petertypingfaster @ 9:00 am

Landing your first agent is a huge deal for any neophyte writer. While having an agent doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to be rolling in job offers, it’s undeniably a huge step towards becoming a pro.

There are a lot of things you should consider when it comes to signing with, or even approaching, an agent.

Before you go looking for an agent:

  1. Do you have POLISHED material that’s ready for public consumption? If you’re aiming to break into television, do you have AT LEAST one polished pilot and a polished spec? If you’re aiming to break into features, do you have AT LEAST a couple of polished features?

Background research:

  1. Are they a guild signatory? If they’re not, then they’re probably not a legitimate agency. Both the WGC and WGA maintain lists of signatory agenices and production companies.
  2. Do they represent writers working in the field / genre that you’re interested in? Some agencies specialize in specific types of writers. Some literary agents are only interested in representing feature film writers, some only rep TV writers. Figure out what you’re interested in doing, and then try to find an agent that can help you achieve those goals.
  3. How big is the agency roster? How many clients do they represent? Having a big roster isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can provide packaging opportunities for example, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into, and what you feel comfortable with.
  4. Where is the agency located? What’s their primary base of operation? Not much point in signing with an agent from Duluth.
  5. What kind of reputation does the agency have? You’ll probably have to be at least somewhat plugged into the industry to get a read on this, but if you have the contacts it might be worth asking around.

When you’ve narrowed down your selection and feel you’re ready to take some meetings:

  1. Is the agency taking unsolicited submissions? If they are, then how do they like to receive the submissions (mail / email / carrier pigeon)?
  2. If they are accepting unsolicited submissions, and they’ve told you how to submit, then send your material in and settle in for a long wait. It takes a while for people to read you in this business, depending on the individual be prepared to wait anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months.
  3. Try to track down other writers that are repped by the agency. Get their inside take on things.

When you’re in the meeting:

  1. Have a (loose) plan for where you want to take your career. It helps ensure clear communication between both parties if each side knows what the other’s looking to get out of the relationship.
  2. Are they excited about you? Your work? An apathetic agent is worse than no agent at all.
  3. Is this someone you like? You’re going to be working closely with your agent for years to come, it can grow into a very close relationship. Is this someone that you can see yourself having that type of relationship with? Or is having that kind of relationship with your agent not important to you?

Landing your first agent is a tough, tough process. There’s a lot of thought, and a lot of anxiety, that goes into the process. An agent won’t make or break your career, but they can certainly help you along.

Tomorrow I’ll put up a list of the Canadian literary agencies, along with any notes and / or thoughts I have on them

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