|I am constantly asked by
aspiring writers, "How do I get an agent?" The
only honest answer I have is, "I have no idea."
I know how I got an agent, but that was a hundred years and a
million lawsuits ago. It was much easier in those
days. Which is not to say it was easy then.
There is no easy way to get
an agent to read your work. The best advice I have to
offer is to try to find a completely unknown agent with classy
stationery. If your manuscript ends up on a producer's
desk with a nice letter from any agent, there is a chance
someone will read your script. If you script ends up on a
producer's desk without a letter from an agent, your script will
be returned to you, or it will go into the trashcan
The reason a producer won't
read a script submitted by an unknown writer is that we have all
been sued by someone in the middle of the country who wrote a
spec script that bore an amazing resemblance to an episode we
did last season. I was sued for an episode of MASH called
"Picture This." In the episode, Hawkeye moves
out of the Swamp and into a shack behind Rosie's Bar. The
idea was given to me by the executive producers. It had been on
an index card on the idea board for months. It did not
come from a housewife in Minnesota. It came from one of
the people who sat around that table for hours on end, for
eleven years. Sooner or later, someone was bound to say,
"What if Hawkeye moved out of the Swamp?"
Before I was sued, I did read
unsolicited manuscripts. I read a million spec MASH
scripts. Every third spec script was about Hawkeye having
to shoot someone. But if we'd ever done Hawkeye shoots
someone, I'm sure we would have had lawyers lined up to sue
us. The point is, there are only so many ideas, and people
are bound to come up with them simultaneously. And in our
litigation-happy society, we simply can no longer afford to take
a chance. Therefore, you have to find an agent if you want
someone to read your script. The agent is a guarantee that
you won't sue the show if you see something similar to your idea
end up on it.
A word about that: No
matter what you may think of Hollywood, I promise you that in
twenty years, I have never seen anyone digging through piles of
spec scripts trying to come up with a story idea. Writers
generally have things they want to say, which is why they became
writers. They are not motivated to steal your ideas.
Legal issues aside, writers tend to like their own ideas.
TO WRITERS' RESOURCES
Internet Directory of Literary Agents from Writers.Net.
Names, addresses, e-mail addresses, descriptions of agencies
including areas of expertise.
Waterside Productions, Inc. --
Agents, authors and publishers. Information on how to publish
a book electronically.
Writers Guild of
America Among other resources, the WGA provides a list of