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Old 11-06-2015, 04:35 AM   #1
Grandmaster
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Default When your rep wants more

I've read now in a few places that UK agents take 20% and American ones 15%; US managers are supposedly taking 10%.

I don't expect all agents and managers to operate on those same terms, but what if you're a writer finally making your way into the "loop" and your rep' wants more than the average... 5-15% more?

The obvious answer would be to say that if the writer's not happy with the offer, to simply not accept it - walking away if that's the only alternative - but if you've spent a long time having your queries ignored and all of a sudden you have a pretty good buzz that this could be the start of things going right, is negotiating right off the bat advised, or should a writer just shut up, accept what's offered and worry about asking the agent/manager to take less once work's coming in steadily?

I saw an agent in the UK who was taking 30% of all earnings that the agent obtained for the writer, but 30? Seriously...
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Old 11-06-2015, 09:46 AM   #2
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Default Re: When your rep wants more

Say no and walk away.

Or don't. But if you don't, have a lawyer look over anything you sign.

(edited to add, in an attempt to be more useful

Look, you've got to have confidence in your material. If you think your material is good, then you should be willing to walk away from any one manager or agent. You can't possibly think that this is the only guy or gal who will want to work with you, right?

And yeah, when you hear no a lot, that confidence is going to get challenged. It's easy to say, "well, this one rep is a genius who recognizes my talent while everybody else is a hack." And it might even sometimes be true.

But if somebody is making an unacceptable offer, smile and thank them, and move along. If your material is good enough to land one rep who you'd actually want, it's probably good enough to land others.
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Old 11-06-2015, 09:56 AM   #3
JeffLowell
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Default Re: When your rep wants more

American agents charge 10%.

Anyone who charges more isn't a real agent. They're opportunists.

Most reputable American managers also take 10.
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Old 11-06-2015, 10:35 AM   #4
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Default Re: When your rep wants more

Listen to these guys.

To me, the key in your letter is that you felt you spent a long time being ignored, and now this guy has created a buzz and a flurry of activity around you. Now you're being wooed and wined and dined and it feels good. You have stars in your eyes. But what's his track record? Who's he negotiating with? Is the activity just what's he's reporting? Who is he interacting with, and what's their value in the market? Obviously he has to sell something to get the twenty percent, but how do his other clients feel? How many of them are there? Has there been any long term success here? What's he doing that's worth that extra money? What is that extra money for? Dig deep and get answers.

If someone is asking for a bump above norm, it raises red flags, especially at a lower level. He may not be a con man, but he's trying to create a standard that doesn't bode well for writers.

Look, I once paid a real estate agent 5% above the going rate in NYC to find a lower priced apartment. Agents took a percentage of the first year's rent of the feel, so it was worth the extra money to get a lower rent. That paid off, because I had that lower rent for ten years, way beyond the initial bump, so that was worth it. But how does paying him extra benefit YOU?--not him. If he's just doing what everybody else does, it doesn't. Just liking your script is not enough.

I doubt he's doing 50% more work.

It may be he believes he can only get so much for your script, so he'd like a bigger cut. That doesn't signify a lot of faith in you. My suspicion is he's gathering up a stable of entry level writers, throwing their scripts at the wall and seeing who sticks. If you stick, he'll keep getting 20% from you and he'll ditch the writers who aren't productive for him. (But you might be the ditched. This kind of guy usually puts a lot of energy upfront and quickly loses interest.) There's always been guys like that in this business and that dazzle-dazzle initial sweep-you-off-your-feet thing is a hallmark.

If you really like him and want to stay, say no to 20% and say you'll do it at the going rate now. 10%. See what happens. Absolutely do not to commit to 20% with the idea you'll ask him to lower his percentage later. That's just asking for a complicated expensive lawsuit that will break you.

I'd keep looking.

ETA: yes, and spend the money to get a really good lawyer to look over the contract if you do decide to stay.
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Old 11-06-2015, 11:39 AM   #5
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Default Re: When your rep wants more

Reputable UK agents take 10%

I've been repped by ITG, 42 and have been at Curtis Brown now for a few years. All top tier agents and all take 10%. Plus an additional 2% VAT as is standard.

When U.S reps come aboard they tend to split it so things don't go past 26%

So UK Agent 7, US agent 7, US Manager 7 and lawyer 5. If you only have one of manager or agent then they usually do 10% each plus 5% for your lawyer.

U.S reps don't usually get a slice of anything based out of the states i.e if the writer gets a commission to write an episode of a BBC drama. A few younger British agents have recently been allowing it as they're keen to get buddy buddy with their American counterparts but most of the bigger British agents don't agree to it as the writing/ directing quotes tend to be less and they don't want their U.K clients working for lower sums than need be.

Who was this U.K agent that was talking 30%? PM me if you'd rather and I can tell you if I've heard of them.

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Old 11-09-2015, 12:23 AM   #6
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Default Re: When your rep wants more

It's okay, someone has since linked me to that UK "agent" on a list of scammers on Predators & Editors.

But all US agents and managers charge 10%? I thought I read differently somewhere...

Thanks for the heads-up.
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Old 11-09-2015, 02:39 AM   #7
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Default Re: When your rep wants more

No worries. Can only talk from my own experiences and re U.S Managers -- like Jeff said, the reputable ones should only take 10%

Manger-wise I'm repped by Echo Lake and prior to that KPE and Energy Entertainment. All of whom are reputable and took/ take 10%. Anything more and personally, i'd be wary.
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