ONE Interview with Rob Gallagher
Q:What are the major qualities that
help you decide to sign a writer?
As a manager, I represent far few clients than I did as an
agent. Agents represent hundreds of clients, spend little
time with them, and have little invested with wether their
writing sells or not. With a hundred clients, it's a fair
bet that a number of them will find work that you can commission,
wether you helped or they found the work on their own and
you just negotiated the deal. I hated that aspect of agenting
which left me little to feel proud about. Once you book a
deal, you have to move on to the next deal, because the agency
is constantly pushing you to bring in more and more commissions.
That's not very gratifying. Now as a manager I represent less
than twenty writers, and to make enough money they have to
be extremely prolific creators -- not just someone who wrote
one great script. I look for the kind of writer who writes
for the love of it and can't stop writing -- not a one shot
dreamer who just wants to cash in on a big spec sale. I look
for writers who will constantly be creating new projects and
who I can partner myself with over the next twenty years and
eventually produce with. When I was an agent it was OK for
each of the hundred clients to have only one script, but as
a manager, mathematically they now need to have five each
if I represent only twenty writers. These are just general
guidelines to give you an idea of what I look for. Again,
I'm looking for real writers, not one shot wonders. Now I
do represent single scripts on a case by case basis and the
way that works is that writers are invited to pitch their
completed specs to me online via my email address at DealmakerX@AOL.COM.
If I love their pitch I'll ask for the script via the mail
and if the writing is there, I'll send it out in the spec
market. Most of the time I go through at least three drafts
with the writer to help get their spec in the best shape,
and I have a team of development people to assist me with
this. It's very important for writers to be willing to take
notes and make the appropriate changes. Occasionally you'll
meet a writer who thinks he's smarter than everyone else and
won't make changes, and word will quickly spread about him
-- his potential career will immediately become a thing of
the past. Keep in mind that this is a business, not an art
gallery, and until you've sold enough scripts that you can
insist on your way, you'd better show that you want to be
a friendly contributor to getting the movie made.
Q: Who are a few of your successful
clients and what is it that you feel has contributed to their
Most of my clients are successful either in screenwriting
or television and to name them individually in an interview
wouldn't be kosher, but I can tell you what makes them successful.
Professionalism and originality. Consider yourself a professional
writer and discipline yourself to writing undisturbed everyday.
Next, make sure you are bringing originality to your work.
Write stories the audience has never seen before, and stories
that are high-concept.
Q:How long does it usually take you
to respond to a query, proposal, or manuscript?
I'll get to an online pitch within a week. If I request the
script, I'll have it read by one of my team within a couple
weeks. If the coverage comes back great, I'll read it myself
within a week. If I love the script, I'll call the writer
and tell him/her my thoughts. We can start working on the
script together to get it in the best possible shape and I'll
plan on going out with it to the spec market within a month
once it's ready. Nothing happens overnight in this business
and with millions of dollars at stake, it's surprising it
moves as quickly as it does. Be patient and get your writing
in shape before you ruin your first impression.
Q:Is there any surefire way to catch
the attention of a literary agent without having connections?
Do agents pay attention to any of the major contests and their
winners? Would winning such a contest (like Story or Glimmer
Train) widen the door for the writer?
Call the agent and tell them you have a deal ready to be
negotiated! This sounds funny, but several times I've "placed"
a client with an agent once I already had a deal on the table.
Agents are so busy, you'll never really understand just how
busy someone can be until you work in an agency. It's unbelievable.
Start with a manager or attorney and have them find you an
agent. Submission letters directly to agents via the writer
are almost always thrown out by the assistant. Winning or
placing well with contests always helps -- it separates you
from the pack and shows that someone liked your writing more
than the rest. Now you don't need an agent and you don't need
a manager -- you can just have an attorney negotiate your
deals. I believe in having a full team on your side though,
especially to launch your career properly amongst the thousands
of writers out there. The agent covers the marketplace better
than anyone else -- only an agency has this manpower. The
attorney negotiates your deals better than anyone else and
occasionally can also make some nice connections for you.
The manager is the only one who will really spend time with
you and your writing, and the manager brings your whole team
together to work for you strategically. The manager also works
with multiple agencies and is consequently going to know everything
that is going on in the marketplace, and best of all, will
share this information with you.
Q: Is there a listing of agents for
specific types of writing, e.g.,nonfiction, fantasy, literary,
Not that I know of. But I do know what each agent's taste
for writing is. It takes a long time to figure this out though
and no one would create such a list. Personally I keep this
information in my computer under each contacts rolodex file
and it's very valuable to me.
Q: What is the attitude of agents and
publishers toward work that appears on the Internet? Also
is it "fatal" for an author's work to have been
published on an Internet page or e-zines?
There really is no attitude or even AWARENESS of the Internet
among agents or the industry. Everyone is so busy that they
would have no reason to find out with is going on online.
This will change someday, but currently when an agent or producer
asks me where I find all my great material and I tell them
the Internet, their eyes glaze over and they grunt about how
they hear it's an amazing thing. These people are on the phone
constantly -- in the office, in the car, at the studios, and
even over meals. Don't expect them to log onto the Internet
unless it's an assistant who isn't quite that busy yet. They
just have more material than they can handle, so there isn't
a need. Again, this will change -- someday.
Q: From IronLady32@aol.com "How
do I know it's true when an agent tells me he/she has represented
Call the publisher/producer/buyer. But always look for more
than one success story -- you want someone who knows what
they are doing, not someone who got lucky.