Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reader question - Leveraging a manager's interest into a read from an agent

I got an email yesterday from longtime reader Susan and I'm hoping you guys might be able to help her answer a question:

I know I wrote to you a little while ago about how my husband and I were trying to use our audio production company, Pendant Audio, to gain some leverage when talking about our Hollywood aspirations with others.

Interestingly, this strategy has started to pay off in a number of different ways.

For one thing, talking about our company makes us feel a little bit impressive. We've started appearing at comic conventions and fans show up. It's kind of cool, it gives us an air of legitimacy, and it shows that we work hard and all of that good stuff. We project confidence when we talk about ourselves as writers now. It's also useful in networking with comic writers and companies.

Then, about two weeks ago, something interesting happened.

We were contacted by a fan of our company who has Hollywood representation. He actually had representation for a while with a different agency (I can't remember which right now) and he tried to help us get representation a year or so ago, but it didn't work out. Since that time, however, this guy sold a book, which was subsequently optioned. So he offered to send our material along to his new manager... at [REDACTED.]

At that point I just about fainted. If I had to pick the perfect management company for us in my fantasy dream land populated by unicorns who poop rainbows, we'd be managed by them ... and now we've got one of our screenplays over there in the hands of a seriously experienced manager. He's been sick, and he hasn't read it yet, but he confirmed today that our script is in his pile.

My question, now, though, is ... is it OK to leverage this, and contact agencies and say, "Hey, we're being read by [REDACTED]"? I've seen some places say yes this is OK, and some places that say no, that is not OK. And I'm really not sure.

I'm researching agencies to get names of agents and details about the types of materials they represent, and my husband is putting the finishing touches on our very latest screenplay so we're not ready to go out and try to leverage this just yet. I know of course this is a bad thing; this opportunity came up at a weird time for us where we were in the midst of putting together a package of related samples, and we aren't quite done. But if all goes to plan we should be ready by next week, and if we haven't yet heard from the manager, I COULD do this and feel reasonably confident in querying some other companies.

I just want to make sure I'm not committing a grievous faux pas.

First, great strategy in marketing yourselves. One reason I printed the whole letter is that I think a lot of my readers could take a lesson from this: Find a way to build a following or distinguish yourself in some way. In doing so, you might be able to draw people to you who can help build your career.

As for your question, here's my take - You might be jumping the gun. Sending out a query that says "So-and-so agreed to read my script" doesn't really point to anything more impressive than getting past the first gatekeeper.

You know what might be more impressive? "So-and-So is representing me."

My gut is to hold back on the agent queries, both for the sake of seeing how the manager responds and also for the sake of getting your other ducks in a row. If I was in your shoes, that's how I'd play it?

But do the rest of you have an opinion on this?


  1. Yeah, I agree. Worst case scenario, the manager doesn't like the script and passes, then the agent finds out that the manager didn't like it and doesn't read it because he assumes it's no good, etc. Then you've burned through two potential contacts rather than the one.

    I'd see where the manager stands in regards to your script because they're a little more lenient when reading scripts that aren't necessarily perfect. A good manager looks for potential as their job is to guide your career over a long period of time, rather than an agent who is usually just looking for something he can sell right away.

  2. Agreed on both thoughts. See what happens there first.

    Much better to use the leverage of so-and-so is buying my script/representing me, what do you got for me? vs. so-and-so has my script waiting in a pile to read, what do you got for me?

  3. In my experience, saying you're "being read" is not going to be impressive to agents. If the manager signs you, then maybe an agent would take note.

  4. I agree that they should wait. It isn't a big selling point at this stage that someone is reading your script. It is a great step and something to be excited about. Patience seems like the best move here.

  5. Hmm I wonder if this is my manager, he's been sick the last 2 1/2 weeks.