How to Get Your First Screenwriting Literary Manager

For screenwriters seeking representation, finding a literary manager is a great first priority. Unlike agents and entertainment lawyers, literary managers work with you to navigate your long-term career roadmap. If your goals are to work with production companies to develop your screenplays or to get staffed in a writers’ room, a literary manager can use their industry expertise to introduce you to key players in Hollywood. Finding a literary manager that fits your career goals and understands your vision is a great way to build your team! 

Make Sure Your Scripts Shine

Before reaching out to representatives, make sure your scripts are stellar. You only get to make a first impression once. Use reader feedback from peers and script competitions to polish your screenplays. Triple check that there are no typos or formatting errors. Understand what you’re trying to say with each script and its central themes, and use that information to write an exciting logline. This will help you stand out in your query letters!

Do Your Research

Once you have two strong writing samples, you’re ready to start reaching out! Make a list of potential managers to reach out to and understand why you’d like to work with each one. Do they have clients whose trajectories you’d like to emulate? Have they worked on scripts that you love in your genre? You can use industry tools like IMDbPro and Variety Insight to see managers’ client lists, but you can also learn more through a quick Google search. In my own quest to find representation, I’ve reached out to managers because I liked their social media presence, watched SXSW panels to get to know their management styles, and read screenwriters’ websites to see what opportunities their clients are getting.

Shoot Your Shot

Reaching out to managers can seem daunting, but when you boil it down, it’s just sending an email! If you have existing connections to a literary manager, a recommendation will put you at the top of their list. Use your networks to get introduced. If that’s not the case, don’t worry! Many screenwriters have successfully found representation through cold queries.

A cold query is a quick email that introduces you as a writer. It contains the logline of the script you’d like to share. Personalizing the email to the manager you’re reaching out to can show that you’ve done your research and you’re not just blasting the same email to every rep in Hollywood. Managers are busy and field a ton of queries. Make sure your email is short and sweet, but still stands out. Do not send your script or any attachments: this will get your email automatically deleted. If they’re interested in reading more, they’ll request your screenplay when they follow up.

Cold Query Letter

Here is an actual cold query that I’ve sent out that received a response:

Hi [Rep’s Name]!

We met at the roundtable last night (I was the one whose dog thought it’d be cool to jump in on the end of the meeting). I’m a queer, Chinese American comedian and screenwriter. I love writing messy, complicated protagonists making bad decisions with humor and compassion–my characters blow up their lives so I don’t have to.

Alice, Everywhere: A recently divorced 30-something navigates single life, getting over her trust issues, and keeping her ability to teleport a secret as her investigative journalist ex-husband unwittingly closes in on her mysterious string of druggings around the country.

It’s Search Party meets Love Life: the highs of a binge-worthy rom-com and the lows of someone lurking at the edges, threatening to expose a life-shattering secret. If you’re interested in receiving the full script, I would love for you to take a look. 

Thank you!

The Meeting

If a manager is interested in meeting with you after reading your script, this means they liked your writing and your voice, and they’d like to see if you’d be a good fit to work together. It’s less of an interview and more of a vibe check. Understand your career goals, practice a blurb about yourself as a writer, and get excited to talk about your script! Use the meeting as a chance to get a sense of their working style, what meetings they might set you up with, and what they envision for this partnership. A great manager will help you navigate the industry and work with you to drive towards your long-term goals.

If you both decide it’s a good fit, congratulations! You’ve landed your first literary manager!

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