GLA: Besides a concise pitch, what are you looking for when a writer talks to you in person or contacts you via a query?MM: Personally, I look for some sense of concept and marketing in a writer’s queries – is the person hitting the commercial side of my brain? Or is the person boring me with unnecessary details about how the main character changes because of a tragedy? If the person’s loglines seem to encapsulate a really good movie idea, I will usually ask to read a sample. A person’s background can help, as well. I will lend weight to someone who claims to have a background in writing (journalism, advertising, etc.) or someone who has gone to film school.Assuming the writer makes it past the query stage and I’ve read a good sample from the person, it’s time to meet. When I sit down (or chat via phone) with a writer, I am essentially looking for someone that I am not afraid to put in a room with executives and producers. That person should be articulate and energetic. I’ve actually passed on representing people who come across as lethargic or argumentative. Life is too short.GLA: We know the textbook definition between a manager and an agent in Hollywood. That said, do you feel like contacting a manager is the best route for newer writers? Are agents just too busy?
MM: For newer writers, yes. Agents rarely have time to deal with some of their existing clients.
The biggest literary agent database anywhere
is the Guide to Literary Agents. Pick up the
most recent updated edition online at a discount.
GLA: When a writer contacts you, how many scripts should they have up their sleeve?
MM: I recommend at least two, if not more. And a plethora of good ideas!
GLA: What are the most common problems you see in the first 5-10 pages of the specs you read?
MM: Beginnings that are uninteresting and fail to set the tone of the script. And lackluster introductions of main characters. I can’t tell you how many scripts fall short on those two levels…
GLA: Any other advice or tips for newer writers on a topic we haven’t covered?
MM: Yes, it’s not enough to simply generate a feature or TV idea, write the script and be done with it. You have to think about the business – how it grows, where it’s moving. Think about your idea as intellectual property and not just a movie or television show; platforming is important.
And legacy. Will your idea stand the test of time? It’s important to understand what moves human beings and how to effectively communicate that in your story.
Other writing/publishing articles & links for you:
- How to Find the Perfect Writing Spot.
- Literary Agent Interview: Jeff Ourvan of Jennifer Lyons Literary.
- How to Find Beta Readers and Peers to Review Your Book.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Writer Platform.
- Literary Agent Interview: Laura Bradford of Bradford Literary.
- Is Writing a Numbers Game? I Think So.
- Follow Chuck Sambuchino on Twitter or find him on Facebook. Learn all about his writing guides on how to get published, how to find a literary agent, and how to write a query letter.
Want to build your visibility and sell more books?
Create Your Writer Platform shows you how to
promote yourself and your books through social
media, public speaking, article writing, branding,
and more. Order the book from WD at a discount.