Q. In your book you recommended not to deal with agents who aren’t members of the Hollywood Representation Directory, as they can’t help a writer, and they could probably hurt a writer. Can you briefly tell me how it’s possible they could hurt a writer?
An agent does three big things. One, negotiates your deals. Two, puts your work in front of people you don't otherwise have access to. Three, validates you.
An agent who is not a recognized professional -- well, there's probably a reason for that. They may not know how to negotiate a good deal for you. They probably don't have much more access than you do. They might put your material in front of, and make deals with, people who won't get your material made, and won't pay you very much along the way.
And, crucially, if they are not recognized, then they don't validate you. If your script comes in from CAA, that carries a lot of weight with producers and execs. It means that someone at a top agency thinks you're worth their time. If your script comes in from Willard McGumby of the Willard McGumby Agency in Baton Rouge, that means that the only guy you could find to rep you is some dude who answers his own phone in Baton Rouge. That might actually be worse than repping yourself.