Thursday, May 02, 2019


Last week, a hollywood manager saw some of my Twitter pitches during the #DVPit pitch event. She was excited about the concept and reached out to me directly saying she'd like to read my manuscript.

Now, while I'm very familiar with the world of literary agents, I have absolutely no clue about the world of hollywood agents/managers. She appears to represent both books and film and her company appears to be legit based on some early internet research, but I'm not sure what to do.

Is it safe to send a manuscript to a hollywood manager? Do I need to engage an agent beforehand? If she wants to see it now and I need an agent first, is it appropriate to ping agents who have my full about it?

I feel extremely out of my depth and would so appreciate any advice!

"Appears to be legit" is an interesting turn of phrase.
What factors did you use to assess?
Have they gotten any movies made?  Recently?

Getting movies made is 1000x harder than getting a book published. This is also a section of the industry that draws hucksters and fast talking flimflammers. I'm not saying this dame is any of those things. I will tell you that a "Hollywood manager" tracking pitches of unpublished book puzzles me. Generally, a book not only needs to be published, it needs to  have sold well to get any kind of option deal.

Just yesterday, this appeared in Publishers Marketplace

One thing I have learned in the course of my career is that Hollywood is relationship driven like book publishing is, but more so.  It's a very different style of pitching too. Pitching books to Hollywood is like pitching books to publishers ONLY in that you are talking about the same set of words on the page.

The conclusion you can draw here is that successful book to film agents are often NOT the same people as successful literary agents. It's like being a virtuosos cellist and a virtuoso violinist. Both are stringed instruments, but there the similarities end.

It's VERY easy to think "this is my big chance and I'll miss it" but the last thing, the VERY last thing you want to do here is jump the gun.

You want a lit agent on your team, helping you assess interest and viability of other subrights offers (including film),  FIRST.


E.M. Goldsmith said...

OP The interest should boost your confidence if nothing else. That said, follow the shark's advice. Get an agent and go from there. It is super hard to get a film made, at least one with any kind of budget and distribution. And the industry is overflowing with bottom feeders so you want someone in your corner to steer you away from the garbage. My kid is in film industry in New York. It can be very cool but a very dark place especially for writers. Keep swimming. Get that agent. If this Hollywood person came out of no where on twitter, I imagine once published, there will be good opportunities for film options. And with an agent, you have a better chance of getting properly paid.

Mister Furkles said...

What is a Hollywood Manager? I've heard of producers and directors but not 'managers.' OF course there are various managers in the industry. But they included the manager of site facilities or union maintenance workers.

Pericula Ludus said...

OP, that does sound so exciting and I can definitely see the temptation. Usually, I'm all "what have you got to lose?" but in regards to the film industry... Quite a few of my friends are in it and my general impression is "THERE BE DRAGONS". This is all just anecdotal evidence, but from what I hear many, many projects that have people all excited then never go anywhere despite the initial promises. Budgets are hard to find and scripts (or novels to adapt to scripts) are plentiful. You don't want to give away any rights that then don't go anywhere, but tie you up in legalese and keep you from taking your novel elsewhere. If you do have the next Blockbuster on your hands, that will be recognised by agents and you'll then have an industry professional on your side to ensure you're not selling your first-born to some silver screen satan.

Lennon Faris said...

I'm not saying your book isn't worth it, OP, but something about this feels off.

I cannot think of a reason that a successful Hollywood manager (I don't know what that is, either) would be looking for new work in the 'slush pile.' Well, I can think of reasons, but none of them are fantastic for the writer.

I would def. get an agent before saying yes to anything.

Best of luck, OP!

dave wolf said...

I've gotten pitches out of the blue that offer to promote or transform my book to a movie. Sometimes the offer includes a bit of flattery. These often will charge a submission fee. What they are really offering (in exchange for some of your rights) is to post your concept or a few chapters online and see if any of the offerings light a fire with their audience. It's a clever (insidious) way to glom onto what may be a great vehicle. Movie-making is very hard, and usually requires a pre-set package of director, actors, production company, multiple executive producers and more. In many cases, the screenplay is simply a convenient hat-rack for collecting the elements of that "package." It's a perilous journey, and most stories/screenplays don't survive.

Theresa said...

Mr. Furkles, everything I know about Hollywood managers and agents I learned from episodes of Bojack Horseman.

OP, I think Pericula is right. You want to make sure that your rights are protected, and that's where an agent comes in.

Kate Larkindale said...

My day job is in film, and I can tell you, it takes years for a script to get from the page to the screen. And only a tiny percentage of scripts that get developed ever make it into production. So even if your book does get optioned, the chances of it ever being a movie are very small.

Katja said...

I actually CAN imagine that a film director approaches the slush pile, simply because of my elderly neighbour I recently had here in England. Her daughter is a producer in London (not sure if Hollywood is that different from the London-film world... maybe). When I had told my neighbour about my book, she said, "My daughter is always looking for new writers."

She didn't say "My daughter is always looking for published books (that do well)"! I can't be sure but my feeling is that this means that these producers look for ideas, and maybe approaching a ('desperate', inexperienced, whatever) writer might be the easiest way for them. Maybe they'd buy it from you for an apple and an egg (=sorry, just HAD to throw this translated German saying in).

So, I'd agree with Lennon: I too can think of reasons, but they aren't fantastic for the writer.

I've told myself to stay away from this, even though I've got to know my (now former) neighbour - but in the end, her daughter's interest will come before mine, so I wouldn't get involved (unless I had an agent, maybe).

Be careful, OP!

MA Hudson said...

OP - in regards to pinging the agent’s who have requested a full... part of me thinks, why not, what’s there to lose? The other part wonders if it might come across as desperate or maybe naive, but I think you could word the email so that it just passes on the information and let them decide if it’s of any interest.
Something along the lines of ‘Hi ya. Hope you’re enjoying the spring weather. Not sure if this is relevant or not but I’ve had a request for ‘ms title’ from ____ representing ____ Studios. Cheers.’
Couldn’t hurt, surely?

Matt Adams said...

DO NOT DO NOT DO NOT send them your MS. Copyright law for ideas are very vague, and they can take your MS, change a few parts of it and turn it into something slightly different and never give you credit.

How do i know this? it happened to me. My MS made the rounds in Hollywood, repped by UTA. Someone even had me write a pilot for a potential miniseries. It wasn't great, and nothing came of it.

Two years later, large parts of my plot and a few of my characters showed up on TV. Even a few bits of dialogue. I talked to my agent, and she talked to the UTA agent and they both said "wow, what a coincidence, but ..." Undeterred and feeling violated, I talked to a lawyer. She quite kindly declined my case and referred me to this:

In this case she actually had an option agreement with a studio, but after a merger, they just decided to forget it. The director and his son claimed they wrote the screenplay, which just happened to have the same title, the same premise and the same MC as the original novel. Because ideas can't be copyrighted, it's hard to prove where exactly an idea came from. In other words, Hollywood only pays if they think they need to. And in unpublished MS is nothing they'll feel like they need to pay for.

Lauren B. said...

Also, do your research on the difference between agents and managers in the entertainment industry. They are NOT interchangeable/the same thing. Many actors, screenwriters, etc., have both. Managers can get you meetings, etc., but they cannot negotiate deals, so you're going to end up needing an agent anyway, and it would likely make a lot more sense to have a literary agent instead.