Some Key Takeaways from my Interview with Literary Manager ‘Quincie Li’

Hey, everyone. My name is Sam, and I’m the founder and CEO of Get Me An Agent. I’m also a screenwriter working on constructing my Hollywood career, finding representation, and getting my projects made. In addition to Get Me An Agent, I’ve got a grab bag of other projects I’m working on, and one of my favorites is my screenwriting podcast, Screenwriter Survival Guide. In my most recent chapter of the guide, I sat down with the first Literary Agent I’ve ever had on the show: Kaplan/Perrone’s very own Quincie Li, and I thought I’d take a few minutes here to talk about my takeaways coming out of that interview. If you haven’t listened to the chapter yet, I highly suggest doing so first.

So, assuming you saw the running time and completely ignored my advice to listen, here’s the TLDR:

  • Always keep writing
  • Always keep reading other peoples’ scripts
  • Make friends who are also coming up
  • Do this for a long time

That was Quincie’s general advice (although, again, listen to the chapter for way more. She goes far more in-depth). But now let’s dive into some key takeaways from the interview:

Should I quit GMAA and stop reaching out to agents and managers?

That depends. My advice on when to use GMAA hasn’t changed one iota. If you haven’t written (at least) six scripts, and don’t have (at least) two scripts you’d be excited to give to Patty Jenkins if she asked you for samples tomorrow, you’re not ready to use GMAA. The agent search process is extremely difficult. You need to set yourself up for success, and the ONLY way to do that is by having your ammunition at your side. What’s your ammunition? Your scripts.

Write a bad script. Then write another, slightly less bad script. Then write three more of those. Then write a “meh” script. Then two more. Then write an “okay, there’s talent here” script. And so on and so forth. Trust me, I know how absolutely depressing the length of that process can feel. But you NEED to go through it. Every script you write, you improve. That’s just how it goes. I write every day (excluding weekends), and try to watch at least one new movie or TV episode per day to keep the creative juices flowing.

But what if I’ve already written a lot?

Chances are, you haven’t. I probably haven’t, and I write a ridiculous amount. Don’t stop writing. But if you’re at a point where you’re starting to garner some level of industry interest in your scripts, now’s the time to get a GMAA subscription. And I stand by what I’ve always said: a GMAA membership is NOT enough to get you an agent. But it is an excellent first step. Why?

  • It’s a step you can take TODAY. The agent search process involves a lot of waiting. Subscribing to GMAA and starting to reach out cold is a step you can take right now!
  • You’ll get valuable feedback. Your best shot at finding a rep is through a connection. But reaching out to agents and managers through GMAA is a great way to get feedback about what your script needs, and what your writer story needs.
  • You’ll get read. The vast majority of our customers (who follow the tenets) are read by at least one agent or manager within a month. Even if they don’t rep you, they may very well circulate your material and you may get an exciting call from a totally different agent a month down the line.
  • Your real-world connections matter more. Your real-world connections are vital. But I can’t tell you how often I’ve met somebody at an event, lost them in the shuffle without swapping contact info, and been up a creek with no paddle the next day when I wanted to contact them. GMAA offers that ease of communication for over 400 agents and managers.
  • You learn. GMAA is an amazing source of information about the industry. Even with our new DIY plan (shameless plug below), you’ll get vast stores of information about the industry, and especially agencies. Those who are informed win.

How do I build my network?

One of THE MOST important things Quincie talks about is building your network. This is something I struggle with. I absolutely HATE networking, and I’m somebody who needs a lot of personal time, which makes it difficult to make new friends, keep old ones, and also get my work done while finding time for myself. Yikes! To fix this chasm of information, I’ve talked with tons of people better at this than I am and ended up with a massive knowledge base, which we’ve recently published in our DIY Plan. This is a very in-depth look at how to build up your network without smarmy, insincere networking. I’d also highly recommend Jonny Santana’s chapter of Screenwriter Survival Guide, which you can listen to, here:

What happens once I have an agent?

This is something we haven’t touched on much at GMAA. But it’s one of the most fascinating takeaways I had from my interview with Quincie: How to have an excellent working relationship with your agent or manager once you’ve achieved the impossible and found one. As a quick refresher, here’s what she had to say:

  • Always be working on new material.
  • Let your reps know before you start work on a new project.
  • Don’t be afraid to call your reps.
  • You should be willing to pay your rep 10% even for jobs you earned yourself, since they’re actively working on your behalf all the time.

The first point is pretty self-explanatory, but it bears repeating (this is going to be written on my g.d. tombstone): always be writing. Have something you’re developing at all times. If you thought this stops once you find reps, think again. The process is ongoing. Always be writing. Always be writing. Always be writing.

The second point was one of the biggest revelations I had during the entire interview. This had never occurred to me. I’d always assumed you write a script and your manager takes it once you’re done. But Quincie’s advice makes a lot of sense: Agents and managers are much more plugged-in to the industry than writers, and they know exactly what studios and streamers are looking for, while we might not. So if you write a project, then drop it in your rep’s lap with no prior warning, they might tell you the script is unsalable, and you’ve wasted everybody’s time. Excellent advice.

The third point is something I’ve seen a lot in movies and TV: the writer who’s constantly waiting for his/her rep to call but never thinks to call them. But agents and managers are people too, with lots of clients and a personal life, and you may just slip through the cracks sometimes. So don’t be afraid to call.

Quincie’s last point is the only one I’m not sold on. While I understand where she’s coming from, that you are a team with your reps, and therefore any job you get yourself still has their fingerprints all over it, I don’t totally agree. First off, I don’t think you need to pay your agent anything for the jobs they don’t get you. An agent’s entire job is to get you jobs so if you get it yourself, they have nothing to do with it. Managers, on the other hand, are more of a grey area. If you love your manager, and they are instrumental in your development as a writer, paying them for jobs you get yourself is certainly something to consider. If not, well, maybe just pay them when they get you a gig. Of course, it’s not actually up to you, so this is basically pointless rambling. Yay!

So there you have it: My key takeaways from Literary Manager Quincie Li’s chapter of Screenwriter Survival Guide. She dropped knowledge bomb after knowledge bomb, and, if you haven’t listened to the chapter yet, go do it! I promise it will deliver some real value to you.

And if you haven’t listened to the entirety of Screenwriter Survival Guide, go do it! In each chapter or the guide, I sit down with a different screenwriter, director, or other industry professional to talk through one specific aspect of the industry, in the order a new screenwriter needs to know it. For instance, we talked about moving to LA in our first chapter, landing your first industry gig in our second, making the jump to professional writer in the third. Click the below buttons to Followscribe wherever you get your podcasts:

And finally, if you’re curious about starting your screenwriting career and want to find an agent or manager of your own, you could use a subscription to Get Me An Agent. Click the big red button below to get a free month, then use the discount code “survive” at checkout for half off your plan forever.

Alright, guys. This has been a lot of fun. I’m hoping to come back and do some more guest posting from time to time. Until then, guys, remember to keep writing! You can write your way out of anything! Peace.

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