Search online for agents who work in your field.

The internet is the best place to gather information about potential agents.
Try doing a search for agents in your industry close to your home.
Then use those searches to build a list of potential agents to contact.

  • If you’re a novelist in Iowa, for instance, searching “literary agents in Des Moines” should give you some good leads. Do the same for your specific field and hometown.
  • Note down the contact information for all the agents as well.
  • There are also smaller agent postings on websites like Craigslist. Be careful with these postings, however. Don’t give them any money or information upfront, just in case they’re not legitimate.

Make a list of agents who specialize in your genre or specialty.

Agents usually have a specific field that they work in.

So finding one that’s an expert in your area of work gives you the best chance for success.

When you’ve made a list of agents, narrow that down by field to find the ones that you’re the best match for.

  • If you’re an actor, different fields include TV, movies, and stage productions.
  • If you’d like to focus on one of those, then look for an agent in that area.
  • If you’re an author, you may have a specific genre like fiction, screenwriting, or history.
  • Larger firms might have several agents working in different fields, so look at their staff list to see if they have the right agent for you.

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Attend talent showcases to connect with agents looking for new clients.

Occasionally, clubs or agencies host showcases for potential new clients.
These showcases give people an opportunity to quickly display their talents for agents in the audience. Keep an eye out for these events and attend as many as you can.
This is a good way to get noticed early on.

  • Always be polite and friendly to everyone at the showcase.
  • You never know who’s an agent, or if someone knows an agent they could introduce you to.
  • This is probably more suited for actors or musicians than writers.
  • However, there still may be trade shows and similar showcases in your industry.

Cultivate an active social media presence to showcase your work.

Many agents are active on social media and use it to find new talent.
If you don’t already have social media accounts, start some to showcase your work.
Post about your writing, acting, or musicianship to gain attention.
Agents might see your pages and reach out to you.

  • Keep your internet presence professional. Don’t post things that are inappropriate for a work environment. This kind of behavior could turn off potential agents.

Continue booking your own work to build your resume.

Finding an agent takes time, and might even be a year or more of work.
In the meantime, don’t stop honing your skills and booking work on your own.
That way, you’ll continue making connections and building your resume.
All of which makes it easier to get an agent in the future.

  • At this stage in your career, you’ll probably have to settle for small roles and gigs.
  • Don’t worry; everyone starts out small. These little roles are important for building your resume.

Meeting with Agents

Ask colleagues or friends for referrals to agents if they have one.

Agents receive a lot of inquiries from people who want to work with them, so it’s tough to get noticed.

If you have a friend or colleague who works with an agent you’re interested in, ask them for a referral. This could be the best way to get your foot in the door for a meeting.

  • Remember that a referral isn’t a guarantee that an agent will book you.
  • You still need to show off your skills and prove that you’re up to the challenge.
  • Some colleagues might not want to refer you to their agent.
  • Try not to take this personally. They may feel like their agent is not right for you.

Send your most recent resume and a cover letter asking for a meeting.

Always write a polite, short cover letter introducing yourself to the agent.

In 1 or 2 paragraphs, state your interest in working with the agent and give a quick rundown of your past work.

Politely request a meeting with the agent. Also include an updated resume of all your work, no matter what field you’re in.

  • If you know someone who’s represented by that agent, name them in your cover letter.
  • Make sure you ask their permission before doing this.
  • If you’re an actor, send the most recent headshot you have. Agents submit actors for auditions based on looks, so if you don’t look like your headshot, then they’re less likely to represent you.

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Submit your best work as a sample.

Agents get a lot of inquiries, so their time is limited.

If you’re applying for representation, then you have to catch their attention with your very best work.

Send in your best acting reel, piece of writing, or live performance to demonstrate that you deserve their attention.

  • Some agents will want your creative material right from the start, and others might request it after you’ve already sent your resume and cover letter.
  • Check online to see if they list the items they want in an initial contact.

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Have a conversation with an agent about your work and career goals.

Getting into an agent’s office for a meeting is a big accomplishment in itself!

It means they’ve already seen something they like. But now you have to nail the interview.

Do your best to be yourself and have a good conversation with the agent.

Don’t spend all your time rehashing your resume.

Show the agent your personality and that you’re someone they can work with.

If the agent likes your personality, they’re much more likely to work with you.

  • Ask the agent questions about their work and life as well.
  • This establishes a comfortable dialogue.
  • If you have friends with agent, ask them what the interview was like. This could help you prepare.
  • Whatever you do, don’t act smug or show off an ego. This will turn agents off.

Show all potential agents that you’re a reliable worker.

Besides knowing they can work with you, agents want to see that you’ll represent them well.

Show that you’re a professional by showing up on time, dressing well.

And giving the impression that you’re reliable. These are all good signs.

Also, have good answers for what you’re currently working on.

You might be taking an acting class, writing your latest chapter, or composing a demo tape.

These all show that you’re active and professional

  • Talk about your goals as well. Having goals shows that you have long-term plans, which look good to an agent.
  • Always be polite to everyone at the meeting. Show the receptionist as much courtesy as you’d show the agent themself.

Choosing an Agent

Prioritize agents that share your career goals and outlook.

Your agent will be a big part of your career, so it’s important that they share your goals and outlook.

If you’re juggling multiple offers from different agents, think about which one best line up with your goals. Will they be able to book you the work that you want to do?

Think about this before choosing an agent.

  • For example, if you’re an actor that want to work in movies.
  • But you have an offer from an agent that primarily places actors in TV roles, then they might not be the best choice for you. Your career goals don’t line up with their typical placements.
  • The same can go for an author. If you want to work with big-name publishers but an agent primarily works with smaller ones, then they’re probably not the best choice either.

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Pick an agent that you feel a personal connection with.

While you and your agent share a business relationship, it’s also important to work with someone with who you get along with.
An agent should feel a personal stake in your career and help you make the best decisions.
Someone you get along with personally will make the process much easier and more enjoyable for you.

  • Remember that personality is important, but not everything.
  • You still have to make sure the agent is offering you a good deal.

Don’t be afraid to reject agents if you don’t like their offer.

If you do get an offer from an agent, it’s tempting to celebrate and accept it.
However, look at the situation and weigh all the pros and cons carefully.
If you don’t like the deal or don’t think this agent will line up with your career goals, then don’t be afraid to say no.

  • Always be polite when you’re rejecting an offer because you never know when you’ll meet this agent again. Say, “I’m very flattered that you want to represent me, but I feel that we have different plans for my career. I’ve decided to accept a deal with another agent. This is nothing personal and I’d be glad to work with you in the future if things change.”

Avoid any agents that want to charge you money upfront.

This isn’t how a legitimate agent works. While you’ll have to pay them eventually, agents only make money when you get booked for work.
Then they’ll take a percentage of your earnings for their services.
If any agent wants money upfront, then leave and find another candidate to avoid getting scammed.

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More tips

  • Agents are very busy people, so don’t be insulted if some don’t respond to you or only speak with you briefly. If they have a lot of clients, their time is very limited.

  • Remember that an agent can make a big difference in your career.
  • But you still have to work hard. Do all you can to improve your skills and reputation, and your agent will have a much easier time getting work for you.
  • Once you pick an agent, this doesn’t mean you can never change.
  • People switch agents all the time.

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Conclusion

  • Unfortunately, there are some scammers in the world posing as talent agents.
  • Always be cautious and investigate anyone thoroughly before agreeing to work with them. Never give any money upfront, because legitimate agents don’t work like that.