Want to get signed by a top literary manager in Hollywood? Check out these five things every manager wants to hear AND make sure you can say them in that important meeting.
1. “I have more than just this script.”
We’ll start with an obvious one – but managers want you to have more than just one script before signing you. Multiple scripts mean two things:
A. You’re dedicated to your craft.
B. You didn’t just get lucky, you’re a consistently good storyteller.
2. “I write on brand.”
What does that mean exactly? It means that you know that it’s easier to sell a writer who has a brand! Whether that means you’re the sci-fi gal or the historical drama guy, having a brand can be really, really helpful at any point in a writing career. But if you love all genres, there’s good news: “brand” can be broader.
Look at Aaron Sorkin’s brand: “I write clipping, biting dialogue.”
Nolan’s brand: “I write blockbuster scripts that are intellectually challenging.”
Your brand doesn’t have to be just one genre, but you should have something that you can tell managers is your “brand”.
Have you written a feature screenplay that shows your brand? Enter the WeScreenplay Feature Screenwriting Contest here.
3. “I’d love to be a staff writer or write on assignment.”
Sure, every writer would love that big, splashy spec sale. But unfortunately, it’s not 1994, it’s 2019 and those types of sales aren’t happening as often – especially to newer writers. In the meantime, you and your manager still have bills to pay, so writing on assignment, in staffing rooms, and doing re-writes can help pay those bills while giving you credits. Saying all you want to do is sell your spec is a pretty certain way to NOT get signed.
4. “My five-year writing goal is…”
A manager’s job is to help develop your career. How can a potential manager do that if you have no idea where you want to go? Do you want to write a Star Wars movie? Do you want to direct a project you’ve written? Do you want to eventually publish a fantasy novel trilogy to be adapted into a TV show? Whatever it is you want from your career, know it and communicate it.
5. “I am a fast, focused writer.”
This one you’ll have to say and then PROVE after you get signed. Your manager wants you to look at your writing as a JOB, not just a passion or hobby. He/she has bills to pay and those bills aren’t paid if it takes you two years to write a feature. Without rushing yourself, you should be finishing pitches in a few weeks, pilots in a few months, and features in no more than 6 months. Those timelines may seem tough for some, but there are writers (with day jobs) who can hit those deadlines, so you have to as well.
There are plenty of other skills and qualities that individual managers will look for, but make sure you go into a potential manager meeting with these five locked up. It’ll be a great way to ensure you’re a few steps ahead of the competition.
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