Talking Script/Screenplay Managers

Publish date:

Q. I was wondering on how you can help me get the right agent. I've written a screenplay, which is copyedited and registered. My query letter and my synopsis seem to be very good.
- Natalie

GLA: A-ha. You're looking for a script agent, not a literary agent. More specifically, you want a script manager. Agents in California are wheeler-dealers who generally do not take on or consider new clients. If you're trying to break in cold, query a manager. Managers work like literary agents out there. When the time comes, your manager will connect with an agent to make a deal. It stinks a bit, because you have to pay 15% to one and 10% to the other. A lot of reps out west who are open to queries from new screenwriters are managers, but may not call themselves that (they may use the word "agent").

The new 2009 Guide to Literary Agentsbook doesn't list any script managers. Why, you ask? Because in less than six months, the first ever edition of Screenwriter's & Playwright's Market will be in bookstores. If you don't want to wait that long, just get a subscription to, which has the entire database.Fortunately enough, I just interviewed script and literary manager Marc Manus, of Manus Entertainment Literary Management, who was a panelist at our writers' conference in Los Angeles in May. I interviewed him for the new SPM book, but I want to post some of his answers here because I think they'll help.

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.

Screen Shot 2016-08-08 at 2.57.50 PM

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:

Image placeholder title

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.

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Amanda Jayatissa: On Spiraling Out in Suspense

Author Amanda Jayatissa discusses the fun of writing "deliciously mean" characters in her psychological thriller, My Sweet Girl.

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

3 Tips for Writing a Memoir Everyone Wants to Read

A memoir is an open window into another's life—and although the truth is of paramount importance, so too is grabbing hold of its reader. Writer Tasha Keeble offers 3 tips for writing a memoir everyone will want to read.

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Zoe Whittall: On Personal Change in Literary Fiction

Bestselling and Giller Prize-shortlisted author Zoe Whittal discusses the complexity of big life decisions in her new novel, The Spectacular.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 582

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a transition poem.

4 Myths About Writing Animal Characters

4 Myths About Writing Animal Characters

Author Codi Schneider debunks four myths about writing animal characters, including that audiences won't connect with animal characters and that they're only for children's books.



Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character is a modern day voyager.

Stephanie Marie Thornton: One How an Entire Rewrite Added Suspense

Stephanie Marie Thornton: On How an Entire Rewrite Added Suspense

USA Today bestselling author discusses how rewriting a portion of her new historical fiction novel, A Most Clever Girl, added suspense.

Creativity Is Making Small Choices

Creativity Is Making Small Choices

When struggling to work through a creative dilemma, it's best to think of your work in small pieces that create a larger whole. Author Perttu Pölönen explains how creativity is a collection of small choices from an abundance of options.

Zibby Books Market Spotlight

Zibby Books: Market Spotlight

For this market spotlight, we look at Zibby Books, a brand new book publisher (just announced earlier today) that wants to introduce a new model with book champions and ambassadors to the publishing and promotion process.