Screenwriters’ agents are their official representatives to publishers or producers. The service they render is probably the only instance where the employee (agent) can decide whether the employer (screenwriter) is worth working for! In a way they both work for one another. The fact of the matter is that the agent becomes the undisputed king of the career of the screenwriter, turning the tides as and when he may wish.
The role that the screenwriters’ agents play quite simply put, is to assist them to sell their scripts to suitable people higher up in the industry so that not only do the deals prove lucrative but also have good chances of being turned into a teleplay, play or a movie. On their parts, the scriptwriters must understand the relationship with their agents to be able to reap rich benefits. Although having a formal education in law is an advantage, what really counts is to have extensive experience. That is one of the reasons for new screenwriters’ agents to accept every project that comes their way. Having the right connections with the right people in the trade can be extremely helpful to get their clients’ scripts read and accepted.
Screenwriters’ agents who do well are the ones who have a good intuitive power and can gauge the latent talent of the writers who approach them. The way the agent makes money is by getting a small cut from the deal which he closes on his client’s behalf with the producer or a publisher. It is customary to fix this cut anywhere from 10 to 20 percent of the total transaction. It is good for the writer to make sure of the agent’s capabilities before hiring him. Besides luck, the best that can happen to a screenplay writer is the agent who acts for him. The ideal ways to get the top agents to handle your scripts are:
• Get a listing of all efficient agents. This can be done through books that are published annually and are available at all leading book stores. You could also refer to Writers’ Guild of America.
• Select agents who specialize in the genre of your writing.
• Go in for newer agents who are not choosy and will go all out to launch you and themselves.
• Attend conferences of writers to learn more about how screenwriters’ agents operate.
• Send out well framed letters of queries to agents with a stamped self addressed envelope
• Do not be cowed down by a few letters of rejection. There may still be some agent who will accept to work on your behalf.
Build a network of other screenwriters who may help you find a reliable agent.