“Agent Advice”(this installment featuring agent Margery Walshaw of Evatopia) is a series of quick interviews with literary agents and script agents who talk with Guide to Literary Agents about their thoughts on writing, publishing, and just about anything else. This series has more than 170 interviews so far with reps from great literary agencies. This collection of interviews is a great place to start if you are just starting your research on literary agents.
This installment features literary agent Margery Walshaw, founder of Evatopia in Southern California. Margery is literary agent and script manager, focusing on both feature film scripts as well as juvenile fiction writing.
GLA: What's the most recent thing you've sold?
MW: “Sahara Cassidy and the Extinction Caverns” by Kevin Emerson has been sold to Indalo Productions, who recently produced “Day Zero” starring Elijah Wood. Kevin also has a five book deal with Scholastic coming out.
GLA: You're a script manager - not an agent. Please explain the difference. If one is a newbie to the Hollywood scene, what is the advantage of having a manager?
MW: In the state of California, only agents are licensed to sell scripts. However, sales arise following an introduction made by a manager. Agents typically spend the majority of their time involved in the selling and negotiation process whereas managers will help writers perfect and edit their projects, as well as offer long-term career advice. For this reason, there is a tremendous advantage for a newcomer to work with a manager and have that person help them through the writing process to make their script more marketable.
GLA: Evatopia has multiple people working in the company. Are they all managers like you? How should people direct queries and pitches?
MW: Everyone in our organization has a strong literary background, although not all are managers. The best way to submit a query to Evatopia is via our online submission form found at www.evatopia.com under the link “For Our Consideration.”
GLA: When writers want to query you with a script, you ask them to do so through an online form, including a one-line "logline" and a synopsis. How long should the synopsis be?
MW: Although writers may submit as long of a synopsis as they desire, ideally it should get to the point fairly quickly. In a sense, this is the writer’s first test to see if they can get their point across in a concise manner that is also engaging.
GLA: What genres and categories are you looking for right now concerning film?
MW: Comedy is particularly hard to write and as a result, we find very little that stands out above the crowd. We would love to see more well written and smart comedies. We also enjoy strong character dramas that offer actors roles that are new and challenging.
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GLA: Do you also represent TV writers? If so, are you looking to receive new stuff - such as original pilots, or are you looking for spec scripts of existing shows?
MW: At this time, we are only looking for features. We do introduce feature projects to television as well as film production companies.
GLA: Recently, you've branched out in the literary world more with juvenile fiction? Can you tell us why you made this transition?
MW: There are many reasons. First, the novel form has always been my first love in the literary world. At USC, I received my masters in professional writing, which focuses on novels as well as scripts. Because of my interest in novels, I have always maintained contacts and stayed abreast of developments in the publishing world. Finally, my client, Kevin Emerson, who we just optioned “Sahara Cassidy and the Extinction Caverns” on behalf of, has a five book deal with Scholastic coming out this summer for his middle grade vampire series, “Oliver Nocturne.”
GLA: Regarding this new interest in children's writing, what exactly are you looking for? Children's picture books? YA only? Tween, middle grade?
MW: YA, tween or middle grade is where my interest lies.
GLA: When you're reading a partial for a YA novel, let's say ... What things turn you off when reading a manuscript? What kills a writer's chances of getting signed with you?
MW: There’s no need to tell an agent or manager that your project is like no other they’ve ever seen. If it’s good, the writing will stand on its own. If it’s not solid writing, then there’s probably a reason why we’ve never seen something like it published. Another thing that turns me away from a sample is sloppy proofreading.
GLA: Will you be at any writers' conferences in the future where writers can meet and pitch you?
MW: I'll be at your conference [The Writer's Digest Books Writers' Conference] here in LA on May 28.
GLA: Best advice concerning a topic we haven't covered?
MW: I work with three writers who live in Europe. (I spend a lot of time in the UK working with publishers and broadcasters abroad.) What I like about their writing is that it takes me to another place and is told in a voice unique to what we typically hear in the States every day. I encourage writers to be true to their life’s experiences and tell stories that may be off the beaten track. There’s no point in copying what’s already out there.
To query Margery regarding your juvenile work, use the online form on Evatopia's Web site. For the "genre" tab online, put YA or middle grade. A synopsis is still required.
Check Out These Great Upcoming Writers Conferences:
- Feb. 11, 2017: Writers Conference of Minnesota (St. Paul, MN)
- Feb. 16–19, 2017: San Francisco Writers Conference (San Francisco, CA)
- Feb. 24, 2017: The Alabama Writers Conference (Birmingham, AL)
- Feb. 25, 2017: Atlanta Writing Workshop (Atlanta, GA)
- March 25, 2017: Michigan Writers Conference (Detroit, MI)
- March 25, 2017: Kansas City Writing Workshop (Kansas City, MO)
- April 8, 2017: Philadelphia Writing Workshop (Philadelphia, PA)
- April 22, 2017: Get Published in Kentucky Conference (Louisville, KY)
- April 22, 2017: New Orleans Writers Conference (New Orleans, LA)
- May 6, 2017: Seattle Writers Conference (Seattle, WA)
- May 19-21, 2017: PennWriters Conference (Pittsburgh, PA)
- June 24, 2017: The Writing Workshop of Chicago (Chicago, IL)
- Aug. 18–20, 2017: Writer's Digest Conference (New York, NY)
Other writing/publishing articles and links for you:
- 6 Keys to Revising Your Fiction.
- Why "Keep Moving Forward" Is the Best Writing Advice We Can Hear.
- How Deadlines Can Help Your Writing.
- Literary Agent Interview: Tamar Rydzinski of Laura Dail Literary.
- Be True to Yourself, and Your Writer Voice Will Come.
- Sell More Books by Building Your Author Platform.
- 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.
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