View Full Version : Querying Etiquette?
12-18-2000, 08:27 PM
I think this topic came up recently, but I thought I'd post this for those interested.
Recently, I had been very disgruntled about the slow response from a reputable LA agency. I finally decided to write this agent off, and I sent an assertive e-mail to the effect of, "Thanks for the opportunity. You're obviously too busy right now. Perfectly understandable. Please return my script. Take care. Me" (It was better than that.)
Much to my surprise, I received an immediate response for the first time in a while. The agent said she was "confused" and didn't understand why I was in such a "hurry" (months had gone by), but... she said her assistant liked my script a lot and she wanted to read it. She also said she could send the script back.
So her response obviously opened the door back up. I replied that I still wanted her to read it, would love to work with her, etc., but that I mistakenly took the long period of silence as a rejection. I hope she reads my script now, but at least I received a response.
12-18-2000, 08:30 PM
That is odd, Z. Let us know what her next response is.
12-18-2000, 08:40 PM
Agents do not like to be rejected. Think of it like school. Agents want to be friends with the most popular kids. If you write a letter that sounds like you are maybe a popular kid, well they don't want you to be the one pulling a plug, they want to be the one pulling the plug if any plugs are going to get pulled. So by requesting your script back you got her attention because that was your rejecting her, not her rejecting you. Agents don't like that. They want to be the only kids on the playground rejecting people. So she's going to read that script to make sure, if any rejection is going on here, it is going to come from her.
Good luck on the read.
12-18-2000, 08:43 PM
Thanks, GiG and Crash. GiG, I hope you're right; your advice is equally applicable in some kind of love advice column.
12-18-2000, 09:15 PM
First off, GIG, you are probably right on. The "most popular in school" could very definetly be going on.
AND five months is incredibly long to wait for a reply. Now Zeeman should probably wait, be coy, and be asked to dance.
12-19-2000, 02:37 PM
Someone out there was right. I'm happy to say I just received an e-mail to the effect of, "My assistant thinks it has great promise, which means I wil read it over Christmas. Thanks for being patient."
Not so frustrated anymore.
12-19-2000, 03:08 PM
Good luck, Zee! May you get a date to the prom!
GirlinGray's observations were great.
But I think everyone just basically acknowledged how right they were, that agents want to do the rejecting, not be rejected, and then walked past the implications.
The implications are that when the agent drops an e-mail and says "my assistant thinks it has great promise" she's just trying to ensure she does the rejecting.
Think of it this way. You've been submitted a script. You like having scripts submitted because even thought it burdens your assistant (or assistants) the more scripts that come your way, the better the chances of finding a great one.
So if this script has just gathered dust for these months, and the writer writes asking for it back, do you think the agent will want to send it back?
I don't think so. Instead I think the agent will devise a way to keep it longer. (I would if I were an agent.)
Two more things to consider. If the assistant had really thought the script had "great promise," don't you think she would have read it soon after the assistant said it had "great promise?" Everyone I'm sure is aware of what percentage of scripts floating around agents think is good.
Second, consider what would have happened if zeeman had asked for the script back. Then if the assistant really had thought it had great promise, the agent would have read the script immediately, so that if the script was great the agent wouldn't have to send it back but instead invite the writer to come down to the agency and chat with her.
Zeeman, she called your bluff in saying she could send the script back but then in also saying her assistant liked it.
Pardon the negative nature of my observations, but I think people were overlooking some kind of important things.
12-19-2000, 04:30 PM
Well another take would be, no one looked at that script before Zee wrote his "give it back" letter. The script just sat on a pile of scripts for five months. Then Zee sent his letter and the agent bluffed and said the assistant liked it so she wanted to hang on to it, but no one had actually looked at it. Then she handed it to the assistant and said look at this and tell me if I should read it. If the assistant had come back saying no, Zee would have gotten a letter today saying the agent read the script and it wasn't for her. The assistant came back with a maybe, though, so instead the agent wrote Zee and said she'd read it over Christmas to stall for more time.
That's one interpretation. Not necessarily the right one. But a possibility.
That post was certainly the Salt Peter to the St. Nickelaus... :lol Not that I have any problem with it, or even disagree; I've worked with agents in other fields before, and people need to remember a phrase that's high on any Agent's X-mass list...
Sending scripts back diminishes "head-count".
Another fave phrase with agents: "Back-burner".
Keep many talents on the back-burner in case the "A-List" Clients aren't selling or prod.co's ask "Whatcha got that's new?"
But bear in mind that these points are in no way meant to diminish Zeeman's rightful enthusiasm. Getting read at all counts in my book. Everyone has to get read by somebody sometime, whether that's by an assistant-agent, ass. director or ass. editor. And many times, those folk go off and start their own agencies/co's. So there's no reason for Z to be anything but optimistic at this point. Then again...
I could be full of crap. But in this case, I truly hope not.
Zeeman, may I ask what genre the script falls into?
Best of luck, kosk
12-19-2000, 04:48 PM
No, no, that's okay, GiG. Zaps is right. I can take it.
I just can't believe all of the implications that I walked past. Oh, what a fool I've been. You're right, Zaps. The assistant didn't like the script or didn't read it (Egad!), and the agent's just holding it hostage. Should I run the hot bath water now and polish the straight razor, or should I wait for the inevitable rejection?
Please let me know. Crumbling under the great weight of this newly-discovered reality and sobbing with anticipation for your erudite thoughts, Z
12-19-2000, 04:53 PM
I notice the one possibility that's missing - maybe the agent was telling the truth.
In Hollywood? Naw. Well, maybe.
12-19-2000, 04:57 PM
She sat on a script for five months and only replied to email when someone told her she was fired, Bill. What are the odds?
12-19-2000, 05:17 PM
G-girl, in reality, I would guess you are probably right in assuming the agent was just stroking the Zeeman, but if the same situation occured for me, I would probably hold on to that lingering speck of doubt. Perhaps that is why agents can get away with doing things like that. Too many of us are willing to take it.
12-19-2000, 06:26 PM
First of all, I didn't provide all of the facts here in the interest of discretion. I spoke frequently with the assistant who conveyed her assessment directly; she may have been using my butt as a peace pipe. Who knows? Second, this board can be like that "pass it on" game. Example: when did I say FIVE months?
My view is that this is a new agent at a busy place who took on too many reads and was less than forthcoming or responsive about the inability to read everything. Probably happens often.
But nobody knows nothin', right?
BTW, Kosk, it's a drama. Z
12-19-2000, 06:34 PM
The strongest word in a writer's vocabulary is "No." And it always will be. At every turn, at every stage, of a writer's career.
"No," you cannot have my work forever and a year to "consider."
"No," you cannot have my work for free.
"No" I will not sign a form that says you can have my work just for reading it.
"No," I will not run on a treadmill rewriting and rewriting my work for nothing.
"No," I do not want that job, I want to wait for the job that is right for me.
"No," I do not want to work with those people who chew up writers and spit them out, I want to wait and work with the good people who do not.
Every step of the way, the only word between a writer and the wolves is "No."
12-19-2000, 11:19 PM
Thanks, GiG. All this time, my mantras were:
"No," I am not the father.
"No," I'm not the guy that played Lamont on "Sanford and Son."
"No," I will not stop wearing your bikini underwear.
"No," I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV.
"No," I'm not going back to Betty Ford.
"No," let go my Eggo.
12-20-2000, 11:16 PM
I'm sorry, Zee. Someone said "five months" and I was just assuming that number came from you. My bad. (Never "assume," Gig, sigh.)
Potts, thank you for asking but odds are not.
12-21-2000, 04:31 AM
Zeeman, did you ever play one of the English Doctor Whos?
If so... I have a piece of advice regarding your next conflict with those silly Dalek robots. Next time, throw a bag over their ray-gun barrels and roll 'em onto the floor.
They can't get back up if you do that.
If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I am far too old for this board.
12-21-2000, 01:01 PM
GiG, you don't have to apologize. (Smooch)
Chris, I get that question a lot. Yes, I played Dr. Who, but the time travel in the phone booth began to wear me down, so I quit in 1981. Great show and thanks for bringing me back. Z
12-21-2000, 04:23 PM
You people are in serious need of some business sense. (But that often seems the case with artists.) Agents rightly consider 99.9% of the scripts they read from novice writers to be worthless (i.e., unsaleable). They know that in finding new writers they can sell they are in the needle in a haystack business. Scripts from unknowns are not valuable commodities, just hay.
So there is unquestionably serious interest here from that agent.
12-21-2000, 06:56 PM
brave, bold words. and if you're wrong, do we get to knock your block off?
love the sweeping statements, by the way. always the best way to build an argument.
12-21-2000, 07:57 PM
I guess I'll be the lone voice on this one: why sweat querying an agent in the first place?
As someone else here pointed out, 99.9% of scripts by new writers are unsellable so agents prefer to go with a known commodity. Wouldn't it make more sense then to establish yourself as a commodity?
It is no more or less difficult to get in the room with a showrunner or staff writer in a position to hire you than it is to get an agent. I'm not necessarily talking about primetime network shows here (although some of those aren't impossible either) because there is an ever-growing number of cable outlets that employ all manner of guild and non-guild writers.
Get a job writing a TV show, preferably one where you can do your best work, and you won't have to look very far for an agent. They will seek you out.
And the best part is, in the meantime, you won't have to pay anybody a commission.
BTW - Congratulations, Zee. I'm glad you got your foot in the door. You're a stronger soul than I.
Quit making your mom log in as Eric41. It's kind of weird.
12-21-2000, 08:37 PM
Um, how many agents have you had Eri -- er, I mean, Mother Zee?
... asst. agent and reader, who doesn't want to be deluged by our poor widdle attempts over the remaining days of the holidy...
Merry X-Mass, Eric!
12-22-2000, 08:42 AM
MOM, GET OFF THE COMPUTER! You're embarrassing me again!
12-23-2000, 09:12 AM
That's it, shoot the messenger when you don't like the message.
12-23-2000, 10:22 AM
Well Eric, lots of agents read writers and talk to writers and meet with writers without, ultimately, signing those writers. It just works that way in Hollywood. Now maybe I am wrong saying that and just have no business sense. Or maybe I know what I am talking about. Personally, I hope this woman is a great agent, falls in love with Zee's script, takes his work out, and there is a feeding frenzy for that script the likes of which have not been seen since locusts descended on Egypt. But I also know agents string writers along every day so it could go either way.
05-05-2005, 11:41 AM
Spoken like someone who knows from experience, GIG.
If you don't mind my asking, do you have any credits I'd recognize?
05-05-2005, 11:42 AM
(This post is missing and can not be restored)</pagetext>
<title>Flipside: The Power of "Yes"</title>
<pagetext>(which in no way disagrees with any of the above statements/advice; they're good; if good, then they're "Unbroken". If it ain't broke, don't fix it.)
"Yes", I am willing to come down to La-La if an opportunity presents itself.
"Yes", I will re-locate, if that's what it takes to gain an assignment, from which I might get help/assistance in having my own spec sold.
"Yes", I will put my own "koskian" B.S. aside for the good of the project, should that project be offered in a "real" fashion.
"Yes", I will happily change my manner of dress and demeanor for the sake of the pitch, since I'm not being (potentially) hired for my dress or demeanor (I'm pitching for my story, rather than wardrobe or personal manner).
"Yes", I will accept that Cameron did Piranha 2, and Stone did The Hand, before they were given the opportunity to do either Titanic or JFK. And that anyone might have to do the same to reap any rewards regarding their "personal" stories.
"Yes", I will accept that I might have to do my own "Stuart Little" to eventually get even a vague/possible shot at my own "Unreconcilable".
And with that, I've spent my 2 pennies.
Hope all here are well, kosk.
05-07-2005, 10:16 AM
Let's just close this five-year-old thread that was resurrected for one post. If someone wants to start a new thread, then that is fine.
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