Pestering Your AgentComplications Ensue
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Friday, August 08, 2008

Q. How often are your periodic conversations with your agent? Weekly, bi-weekly, monthly or bi-monthly. Is there such a thing as engaging with your agent too much (or producers and development people for that matter)? What happens if you pester them so much they won't take your calls, let alone work with you?
Then they won't take your calls or work with you.

It depends where your career is and how much you have to talk about. I never call Amy to chat. If I have info for her, I email her. When I have questions, I call. If I'm busy writing, that might not be more than once a week. If I'm actively trying to round up business, or forward my own projects, that could be several times a week. If we're in a contract negotiation, that's several times a day.

Even if I'm hunkered down in the middle of a script, I'll usually send her a weekly "roundup" email of all my current projects, where they stand, ideas for things I'd like her to do (what about sending script X to guy Y?), and questions about new avenues to pursue. Then I call to go over the roundup email. That way we don't forget anything current. Nothing focuses a meeting like an agenda.

I try to be very sparing of her time. The point of the call is to determine (a) what I should be doing (b) what I'd like her to do. It's all about the doing. Neither of you make any money from her talking to you. 

I let her know where I would like her to focus her energies. Sometimes, I'm overloaded and I can't take on any more work; then I would like her to push my finished material. Sometimes I'm running low on work and I'd like her to find me a rewrite or a free lance script or a commission.

You can usually tell if you're calling too much, or if your agent has lost interest, because the time to return your call starts to deteriorate. I fired my last agent after a couple of phone calls went unanswered within a week. (There was a hostile email, too!) Amy almost always responds within 24 hours. If you're a newbie, response time may be closer to a week than a day; but if it gets to be much over a week, your agent may not be beating the bushes for you. Is that because you haven't provided her with fresh material? Write something new and brilliant. But if you've sent in a new spec and you haven't even had an acknowledgment, time to quietly reach out and start looking for a new agent.

Give your agent time to read new material. At least two weeks to read anything longer than six pages.

Don't call to nag. If you haven't heard back in a reasonable while, send an email. If that goes unanswered, don't send a follow-up. Wait until you have fresh info or a fresh question.

Yes, it's agonizing to wait. But keep the relationship professional. She has other clients. If you're not getting served the way you want, figure out what you're doing wrong, or move on.

Agents like to hear from their clients. But they like to hear positive, useful things from their clients. They want to hear "I have a fresh spec." Or, "I met a development guy at a party and I wanted to chat with you what to send to him." Or "I have two great ideas, which should I write first?"

They don't want to hear, in essence, "I'm lonely and sad and you're the only one who'll talk to me." 

(If you're lonely and sad, volunteer.)

Like all relationships, put yourself in your agent's shoes and ask: "would I want to be on the other end of this phone call?" That should tell you whether to call.

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Thanks for this dose of "how to" and perspective.

Very useful info for those of us with very little experience of agents.


By Blogger Eleanor, at 3:55 AM  

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