Most aspiring writers dream of the day they can say they have representation, and for good reason. It gives any creator a sense of self-worth - that somebody, a professional, thinks that they excel at their craft, that their writing is worthy of being performed, and that the world needs to see it realized.
But for those outside of the business, there’s a fair amount of confusion over the role an agent or manager would potentially play in a writer's career.
Many writers only have agency representation. Some scribes (albeit, far fewer) only have a manager helping guide their careers. And many choose to have both. So, what do they all do?
Firstly, agents and managers roles do certainly overlap significantly. All representatives advise their clients on potential projects, utilize their relationships to set them up with potential collaborators, and pitch them for new projects.
So what are the differences? To start, managers - by far - have fewer clients by far. Around 20, on average, compared to the 60ish most agents carry. Managers are also much more involved creatively in what writers do, and the best ones help shepherd every project a writer engages in - from the treatment and outline stages to final draft. And then your rewrites.
Conversly, your agent will probably read two drafts at most and is likely to only chime in with broad notes. Beut while agents don’t shepherd the creative process quite as extensively, they understand the marketplace. They know what every network, studio and buyer is looking for. And in a bigger sense, they also know what types of projects their agency’s biggest producers, directors and actors are looking to take on and can help attach someone meaningful to your script.
And when it comes time to make a deal for their client, agents are the ones that will be fighting the battles over every penny and percentage point.
Regardless of where you find yourself in your career, every writer should absolutely know this: Signing with an agent or manager is the START of a journey - not the finish line. Too often writer’s feel like getting representation will result in a near immediate influx of job opportunities and money. But representatives are only good as the tools they’re given. That means your scripts, projects and potential projects.
Bottom line: Being a professional screenwriter is a team sport, and never forget that you’re the quarterback.