One question I always get asked when talking to writing groups about how AMAZING AND SUCCESSFUL I AM is ‘How did you get an agent?’, there apparently being an assumption that the getting-of-an-agent is the difficult bit and that from that moment on, the work will flow like honey and that the putting down of a mortgage on a sensibly-sized castle is but a twelvemonth away. I know that because that was the assumption I always had.
Obviously the reality isn’t quite like that, but who cares about the reality? Much more interesting to email random people from my hotmail contacts list and ask them how they went about procuring themselves a godforsaken bloodsucking culturally-illiterate fifteen-per-cent-taking workshy fop all of their own:
ALEX WILLIAMS: Writer (Sir Gadabout)
”I tackled the whole thing in two ways. I established contact with a couple of agencies with something I'd written and then the vibe was very much 'come back when you can prove you can be a working writer for us'. I kept writing and getting encouraging feedback from the industry so when I was finally invited in to meet with an agent I had a shoebox full of personal letters endorsing my work. The agent was new and looking to build a list of clients so she took me on. Nothing changed overnight and in fact my first paid job came about through contacts I'd made myself. But it was nice to have someone to deal with contracts etc.”
DANNY STACK: Writer (Doctors)
Well, I approached about 10 agents (all of whom I knew were good, or had clients I liked), and some rejected me outright, while some met me and said ("let us know of your next project, and maybe we can do something"). Basically, I got some positive noises but I wasn't getting
anywhere. I hadn't heard back from one particular agent so I sent them a polite follow-up query. They hadn't received, or had mislaid, my scripts for some reason, so they asked me to re-send. I didn't hear anything for a few months, then got an email to come in for a chat.
Previously, all of the other agents I met were only interested in my 'next script' or deal, but the agent said: "I like your writing, I think we can help your career, what do you think?" So I knew I had someone who believed in me as a writer rather than a useful commodity.
Danny’s agent there was the fragrant and beautiful Ginny Sennett, who also became my agent in a very similar process (although I’d point out I saw her first). Tragically, Ginny is now lost to the labyrinthine corridors of the contracts department of the National Theatre, may the Lord have mercy on her soul. Fortunately, her then-acolyte Matt proved himself a worthy, if chromosomally less gifted successor.
More ASTOUNDING tale of agent obtaining to come. If you're reading this and have an agent, feel free to expand on the gettingness in the comments section. My aim is in time for this to become the most preeminent site for agent snaring there ever has been or will be.