If you’ve landed an agent or manager, congratulations! You’re well on your way. But don’t think you can rest on your laurels and the jobs will just be rolling in. Sorry, we all wish it worked that way, but it doesn’t. Here is what you need to do to keep your career moving forward and your representative happy and yourself represented:
A) Constantly produce new material. Your representative needs things to send out.They generally expect two new pieces of material per year – and that’s in addition to any assignments you may take on. There are exceptions, but be aware. The worst thing you can do as a repped writer? Not write.
B) Involve your representative from jump. Send them a list of ideas for future projects and let them pick the one(s) you should focus on next. Incorporate their feedback into any draft you send them. Essentially, the more skin they feel they have in the game, the harder they will work for this material. They need to feel like their contributions are valued for the team to remain strong.
C) Don’t be a pest. Email your representative sparingly and only when you have an actual reason (and, no, “Why haven’t you done anything for me lately?” is not a reason). If you haven’t heard from your rep in a while, say a few weeks or so, maybe send them a link to an article and say “Have you seen this?” It will also work as a reminder.
But remember, they may be waiting for you to drive the next play – which may mean brainstorming some new ideas or doing some hustle on your own. It’s a mistake to think you shouldn’t keep working it once you’re repped.
D) Be courteous and professional at every meeting your representative sends you to, and always handle every job they get you (even the tiniest rewrite) with 100% commitment and professionalism. You may have a valid reason to complain – but try not to. Remember, it’s a very small town, and your rep may not be on your side. One key reason why reps stop working with writers is because the writer did not handle the politics of their previous assignment well.
E) Listen. Your rep wants to monetize you over the course of a career, not just one sale. If they’re not all that excited about a script, they will maybe test the waters by sending it to five trusted industry friends. If that response is not positive, they’ll think, “Well, I took a shot,” and they will expect you to be okay with moving on. Sure, there are 40 other places they could send it to. But they won’t. You need to be okay with that. That doesn’t mean you cannot find a path for that material yourself down the line. But if you push a rep to send something out, that’s a black mark. Accumulate too many of them and you may well find your phone calls are no longer getting returned.
Similarly, if your rep tells you something like “This might work better as a pilot,” or “Act 3 is a bit soft,” you need to… you guessed it… listen. They are your partner, yes. But they are also the gatekeeper and the representative of both the entire agency or management company and Hollywood itself — and they likely are basing that opinion at least in part on internal coverage. Be the one who embraces the notes, who embraces changing the format. Even if it kills you a little inside!