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.

How To Write A Screenwriter Resume

If you’ve been searching around online, you’ve likely found very little information on how to write a resume if you’re a screenwriter. And the information that does exist is made-by-committee, copy-and-paste garbage. Why is that? Thousands and thousands of creatives want to become screenwriters, so why is it so difficult to find good information on how to write your screenwriter resume? Today we’re going to go over why there’s so little on this topic online, what a screenwriter resume even is, and how to best go about showcasing your talent as a writer.

Why you don’t need a screenwriting resume

The real reason there’s very little information on making a screenwriter resume is because you don’t need one. That’s not to say you don’t need a resume when applying for assistant-level positions, but those resumes aren’t any different from the type you’d make for any “normal” job (here’s a great article on writing a traditional resume). But once you’ve graduated to actually finding writing gigs that pay you to, you know, write, most employers couldn’t care less about a properly-formatted piece of paper. So how do you get jobs if not via a resume?

  • Through your agent and/or manager – I’m not just saying this because this is Get Me An Agent. The only purpose of an agent is to find you jobs, that’s literally the whole gig. Which means they’re very good at it. Agents and managers often have personal relationships with execs at the companies who’ll be hiring you. So they can dispense with formalities like resumes. All that matters to these producers is your writing. So that’s what you should focus on improving. Also, if you don’t have an agent, you might want to get one.
  • Through the WGA directory – Back in my day (up until 2021), members of the Writers Guild of America weren’t allowed to have agents due to a dispute between the guild and big time agencies. When this was the case, writers had to turn to other tools to find employment. One of the most popular was the WGA directory. This is a system that allows showrunners and producers to find talented writers using an online database. This directory is, as with everything, all about the writing. Petty details like your last six assistant jobs and your alma mater aren’t nearly as important.
  • Social media – You should NEVER bank on being randomly discovered, because it rarely rarely rarely happens that way. That being said, more than a few successful writers (especially actor/writers) have been discovered on social media sites like YouTube and TikTok. Rachael Bloom, for instance, the co-creator of Emmy-award winning series, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, was discovered after the show’s other creator watched her YouTube parodies. But, again, it was about the content she was making, not lists of her responsibilities at McDonalds.

You may be sensing a pattern. Like almost everything else in screenwriting, it always comes back to the writing itself. If you can write well, you will find work. If not, you won’t. A resume has nothing to do with it.

Does this mean you shouldn’t make an effort to put your best foot forward and really sell your talent? Absolutely not. As much as this word has sleazy implications, developing a personal “brand” is vital to any screenwriter’s longevity. So let’s take a look at some of the ways you can show your talent without writing a boring old resume.

The power of portfolio

There’s the key word: Portfolio. This is the single most important tool a writer can use to find work. And no, that doesn’t mean a bound glossy catalogue of your scripts. It’s not about what the portfolio physically looks like, it’s about what’s inside. The ugliest, most hideously formatted script that tells a beautiful story will beat the good looking, poorly written screenplay ten times out of ten. But no matter how pretty it is, having a portfolio is vital.

But what exactly is a portfolio? Here are a few things a portfolio isn’t:

  • A bound catalogue of all of your scripts.
  • A single PDF document with all of your scripts.
  • A website where employers can read all of your scripts.

Sensing a pattern? A portfolio isn’t about showing everything you’ve ever written, or even everything you’ve written that you really like. Instead, a portfolio is a private collection of scripts, stored somewhere like Google Drive, including only the best scripts you’ve ever written. These are the scripts you’d be proud to show Steven Spielberg if he knocked on your apartment door and asked to read a sample. And you should have one script that’s better than all the rest. This is your calling card. It’s the first thing you send out to agents and managers when they ask for a sample. If you write TV and features (or drama and comedy), you may want to have one of each on hand. The rest of the samples in your portfolio are backups (but still excellent). These are the scripts you’ll send when a potential agent asks for a second sample. You can have a couple, so you have a deep bench to send out, depending on the feedback you get after the first one.

PRO TIP: If you have more than four or five scripts you’d be happy to show Steven Spielberg, and therefor would be happy to put in your portfolio, you probably have a heightened opinion of your abilities, and aren’t quite ready to look for work, anyway. Be honest about your talent level. Talk to writer friends or submit your work to a reader if you need a reality check.

Your writer bio

You probably also need a writer bio. Some agents and/or managers will write one for you once you’re their client, but it never hurts to have one ready for when you do find reps. Your agent will send your bio to potential employers to give them a sense of who they’re about to read. Consider this the screenwriter equivalent of a cover letter.

Here are some tips to keep in mind while writing your bio.

  • Keep it third person, present-tense.
  • Explain your backstory (where you’re from, anything that makes you diverse or unique, etc)
  • Include any previous credits you have (max 4)
  • Add your awards, fellowships, and accolades (max 5)
  • Make sure to have a personal detail or anecdote that makes your bio memorable.

If you’re looking for a more in-depth guide to writing your bio, you can check out this excellent video from Reedsy. This is for authors, but much of it still applies to you:

Once you’ve finished your portfolio…

The above two steps will account for 95% of your “resume”. This is how you will get the vast majority of jobs as a screenwriter. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have other ways to display your work. Operating outside the lines of a traditional agent/client relationship is a vital ingredient to a long and fruitful screenwriting career. Here are some ways to display your work publicly (which can also be an invaluable resource for finding work as a writer).

  • A website – Having a basic portfolio website is a great way to market your skills. It doesn’t have to be complicated, and you shouldn’t make your scripts publicly available. Instead, display loglines, links to any developed projects you’ve made, and at least one way to get in touch with you. If you have an agent, include their name and number as well. You can use something fancy like Squarespace, but I’ve personally found that a domain from IONOS ($1 for the first year), and a clean Google Sites website looks plenty nice, costs less, and is easier to build and maintain.
  • Social media – In my personal life, I hate social media and hardly use it. But in my professional life, I’ve found it a vital resource. I was once told by a successful showrunner that the writers who consistently find work are the ones who are constantly releasing content on social media. It doesn’t have to be great, groundbreaking short films, or anything. But potential employers want to catch a glimpse of who you are as a writer, and having a professional social media presence is a great way to do just that.

Putting it all together

Okay, so let’s recap: Screenwriter resumes don’t really exist, at least not among professional screenwriters. Instead, you should let your exceptional writing speak for itself in a well-curated portfolio. A writer bio is a nice supplement to said portfolio, and you can add a cherry on top with a basic website and a steady, if not groundbreaking, social media presence.

You can find writing jobs without a screenwriter resume. But it’s going to be very hard to find them without an agent or manager. Agents and managers are the gatekeepers to the industry, and while having an agent doesn’t guarantee you a successful career, not having one creates a real hurdle for you on your road to the red carpet. So how exactly should you go about getting an agent? The easiest way is with a strong industry connection. But a close second is by cold-emailing. The only problem with that is that many agents have emails that are incredibly difficult to find. They’re out there, but buried. That’s where we come in. With a plan from Get Me An Agent, you’ll get unlimited access to our catalogue of hundreds of Hollywood lit agents and managers, plus free email templates to help you craft the best query emails, and unlimited Live Chat support with actual industry professionals who will help you every step of the way towards finding representation. Our plans start at only $19.99/month, and every plan comes with a free month to help you get started. If you’re curious about a plan from Get Me An Agent, click the big red button underneath!