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May 12, 2023

Is Getting an Agent Worth It In 2023?

What is an agent, and do you need one as a screenwriter? Let’s explore the role of an agent, how to get an agent and the advantages and disadvantages.

It’s also worth noting that some incredible developments over recent years have given screenwriters more opportunities than ever before. Still, is getting an agent worth it in 2023? Or could you go it alone?

What is a screenwriting agent?

A screenwriting agent represents screenwriters who want to sell their scripts. An agent pitches a screenwriter’s work to production companies and studios to sell their scripts.

Agents also negotiate deals, handle contracts and develop their clients’ careers by securing opportunities in the filmmaking industry.

The difference between an agent and a manager

An agent’s focus is selling your scripts to make you (and them) money. They represent you, and they negotiate deals by utilising their contacts and knowledge of the industry to pitch and sell your scripts.

On the other hand, a screenwriting manager tends to provide more of a personal approach, offering long-term guidance to help and support you in shaping your career.

The financial breakdown of an agent

Screenwriting agents work on a commission basis, meaning they only get paid when you do. The standard commission rate is around 10-15% of any script sale made.

It’s important to note that you shouldn’t pay an upfront or monthly fee to an agent; anyone asking for this will likely be a scammer.

How do you find a screenplay agent?

All agency submission requirements are different. If an agent is open to submissions, you can typically query them with a brilliant, attention-grabbing query letter and a sample of your work.

Due to the competitive nature of the industry and the submission process, getting an agent as a writer can be a challenge, so be sure to do everything you can to stand out!

Is there another way to get an agent apart from submitting?

Submitting to an agent by following their guidelines (usually on the agency’s website) is the standard way to find an agent. However, you could also make contacts by networking at screenwriting events, festivals and conferences.

There might also be opportunities to pitch your work to agents by entering competitions or participating in online pitch contests.

The advantages of having an agent

Getting an agent has many advantages. An agent’s job is to sell their clients’ work. Their career success and their commission depend on it, which means they’re highly motivated.

An essential element of an agent’s job is networking; they must have good contacts and strong relationships with people in the industry who buy scripts and make screenplays. This a significant advantage for screenwriters as a good agent will have the expertise, knowlege and the professional relationships to sell a script.

The disadvantages of having an agent

Agents at established agencies will be juggling many different clients (potentially around thirty to forty) and mammoth workloads. Therefore, there’s a risk that you might get less attention if you’re a newbie screenwriter. Alternatively, a new agent will have less experience, but you’ll likely get more attention while they carve their career and build their contacts and expertise.

A different approach – can you get your screenplay made without an agent?

It’s by no means impossible to get your screenplay made without an agent. However, the ‘closed door’ nature of the entertainment industry means this approach has its challenges.

Still, some production companies offer open calls or open submissions. You could also build your contacts book by networking at events and festivals, or even become part of the industry by applying for a job or an internship.

How has the screenwriting industry changed in the last 20 years, and what impact does that have on screenwriters?

The industry has changed immensely over the years. Compared to twenty years ago, there have been significant developments for screenwriters. For example, new screenwriting technology, like Arc Studio Pro. And crowdfunding sites focused on funding more opportunities for creative storytellers, like Seed and Spark. These developments mean there’s more potential than ever before to have your screenplay made without pursuing the traditional route.

Is getting an agent worth it in 2023?

There are undoubtedly benefits to having an agent as a screenwriter. A good agent can be enormously beneficial in getting your foot in the door of the entertainment industry and selling your work. Still, you might prefer to keep control (and the commission) and go it alone, instead making the most of networking and the new opportunities that have developed over the years.

So, is getting an agent worth it in 2023? Whichever route you pursue will depend on what you ultimately want to achieve, your short-term and long-term goals, and what success looks like to you. It’s important to remember that the relationship between a screenwriter and their agent should be strong and mutually beneficial.

You should be able to trust them and their judgement. You should feel safe in the knowledge that they’ll champion you and add value to earn that commission.

Don't forget you can download our FREE screenwriting software today.


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Is Getting an Agent Worth It In 2023?
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