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Thread: What's a literary manager?

  1. #1
    boldly going nowhere... JulieJames's Avatar
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    What's a literary manager?

    Has anyone ever heard of one?? Particularly in the world of screenwriting? I have an oportunity to pitch one while signing up for a class and I'm just wondering what's the deal??

  2. #2
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Some managers are legit, others aren't, and there's not many regulations as to who can call themselves one. See if you can check this person out to look for sales they've initiated.




  3. #3
    ... Sakamonda's Avatar
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    The title "literary manager" is generally only used in the theatrical (i.e., stage, NOT film) world. Literary managers are on staff at theatre companies and are responsible for reading and selecting scripts for production.

    If you aren't talking about the theatre world, I'd be suspicious of anyone using this term.
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  4. #4
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I agree with Sakamonda. Can you give us the name of this person? Also, have you checked into his/her background to find out what credits s/he has?

    - Victoria

  5. #5
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Actually, "literary manager" is a job description that has caught on big-time in Hollywood over the last 15 years.

    Literary manager Ken Atchity describes the distinction on his website; this interview with Candace Lake also discusses the distinction.

    Warren Zide, for instance, describes himself as a "literary manager," as do Rob Gallagher, E. Brian Dobbins, and many others.

    So, the job title is not suspicious or unprofessional. Full stop.

    But, as Sakamonda and Victoria say, the key thing is what kind of track record and credits the person has.

  6. #6
    Rhiannon Ellis ellisnation's Avatar
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    I think literary managers are the same as managers for sports pro's, actor's, etc. I have seen alot of small-time agents/publishers ask what you will do to market your book, aside from book signings. A manager could handle this. I have a contact/friend who manages NFL player's who has expressed interest in managing me should I ever get published. She would handle marketing, PR, and whatever else she has up her sleeve to make sure my name gets out there. She's not a lit manager, but because of her outstanding list of contacts, I'd be stupid to turn her down. Now I just have to get published, lol.

    Anywho...

    In my opinion, a manager probably wouldn't be needed if you land a BIG publishing house, like penguin for example. I could be wrong though
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  7. #7
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Most of the book writers I know or am acquainted with work with agents. A few work with publicists. I don't know any who have a literary manager.

    Book marketing is a very specific skill. Even a very successful marketer for celebrities or sports figures might not be able to effectively market a book.

    A publicist or manager might not be a good financial investment if you signed with a smaller publisher, because if the publicist were able to create demand (via a major interview or TV appearance, for instance), the publisher might not be able to fulfill it (since many smaller publishers do limited print runs, and have limited bookstore presence). With a big publisher, a big print run, and national store presence, hiring a publicist might be more worthwhile, because there would be more to build a publicity platform on.

    - Victoria

  8. #8
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    The OP's interest in a manager is for screenwriting, and sometimes it's easier to get a manger to look at a new writer's stuff. (not always, by any means). The trick is to find a legit one.

    The manager can help you get in touch with an agent and takes an additional 15-20% off direct sales resulting from their contacts. From what I've heard, they're not technically supposed to an agent's job, but a few with good contacts can and will pitch to prod. co's themselves.




  9. #9
    ... Sakamonda's Avatar
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    The manager can help you get in touch with an agent and takes an additional 15-20% off direct sales resulting from their contacts.
    YOU DO NOT NEED THIS KIND OF MANAGER. Professional writers of scripts, be they plays, screenplays, or teleplays, get their contracts through agents. You do not need a "manager" to get an agent. Any writer who is capable of landing an agent can do so on his or her own; paying a manager a 20% cut of something you can do yourself is ridiculous, especially when you consider that a legit literary agent takes 15-20% off the top of any script he/she sells.

    Victoria is right. Writers work with agents, and (occasionally) publicists. "Literary managers" who aren't on staff at theatre companies (where they earn a pittance for working very long hours) are scammers at worse, and bloodsucking charlatans at best.

    Would you really want to give up 40% of your income in finders' fees? Fortunately for these Hollywood "manager" types, a lot of really naive people would.

    A lot of sharks prowl the waters of Los Angeles. Beware!
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  10. #10
    boldly going nowhere... JulieJames's Avatar
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    the problem is the class for a session with a script doctor They listed her name and she does have a very long track record. Then as a bonus on another night they are having a session with a "literary Mannager" who at one point worked for summit and we will be able to pitch to this person, for whatever reason they don't mention this persons name... I'm just wondering if it would be worth it to take this class or not.

  11. #11
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    They don't provide the name of someone who is hosting a session? That's really odd. Are you sure that the people putting on the classes are reputable?

    If you take the class, do it for the chance to get advice from an experienced script doctor, not for the chance to pitch some nameless person whose resume you can't confirm. Besides, even if this person were supremely reputable, pitch sessions rarely result in anything more than a request to submit--which you might have gotten by submitting the ordinary way.

    Hopefully you don't have to pay extra for the pitch session.

    - Victoria

  12. #12
    Rewriting My Destiny Cyia's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sakamonda View Post
    YOU DO NOT NEED THIS KIND OF MANAGER.
    <snip>
    Would you really want to give up 40% of your income in finders' fees? Fortunately for these Hollywood "manager" types, a lot of really naive people would.

    A lot of sharks prowl the waters of Los Angeles. Beware!
    Very true. You don't need one, but there are a lot of people out there who think it's a short cut to the top of the heap with big name agents.




  13. #13
    boldly going nowhere... JulieJames's Avatar
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    I was more interested in the part with the script doc than the manager, seeing as how I've decided to rewrite that damn script for the millionth time.... oh well such is life, I get emails from them all the time (weekly) about all their guest speakers etc... its screenwriting.com I think or maybe screenwriter.com something like that, I've never signed up for one of their classes but every once in a while one looks good, this one caught my eye with the manager thing though. Thanks for all the feedback, I figured it wasn't really worth it, I think I missed the deadline for the class but I will keep writing and keep my eye on future classes for something good.

  14. #14
    practical experience, FTW para's Avatar
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    Well I'd email them and ask who the literary manager was. If they are unwilling to say I'd probably give it a pass.

    ETA I googled screenwriting.com, then clicked the link for online classes. This site came up:
    http://www.screenwriter.com/
    TONIGHT'S MASTERCLASS IN SCREENWRITING SPECIAL GUEST IS
    CRAIGIN HOWLAND
    LITERARY MANAGER
    SUMMIT TALENT AND LITERARY AGENCY

    MARCH 25, 2009
    googling that person brings up a imdb page for MTV Awards 2005 (3rd link) which links to this: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm2057774/
    but I can't find anything on the first page of google that shows this person has any experience. Granted I didn't look that hard.
    Last edited by para; 03-26-2009 at 03:02 PM.


  15. #15
    practical experience, FTW
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    Someone on the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award forum has a literary manager. This person sollicited him after reading his excerpt in last year's contest. The whole concept seems kind of fishy to me, sort of like Writer's Relief. This guy helps him decide which agents to query, how to write the query, etc. I just don't see the benefit. The guy has certainly not helped him get an agent or get published thus far. The situation for Ellisnation is different. That person is a professional who would do marketing and publicity and, she's right. She'd be crazy to turn that down (if the price is reasonable). He might not be a literary guy, but he can get her name out there.

  16. #16
    Hapless Virago IceCreamEmpress's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ellisnation View Post
    I think literary managers are the same as managers for sports pro's, actor's, etc.
    No, they're not.

    Did nobody read the links I posted to actual Hollywood literary managers describing what it is that they do?

    "Literary managers" who aren't on staff at theatre companies (where they earn a pittance for working very long hours) are scammers at worse
    THIS IS NOT ACTUALLY TRUE. Holy cow, people, flinging around misinformation like this is really not doing your fellow writers a service.

    Yes, some scammers call themselves "literary managers." So do some very distinguished and successful screenwriters' representatives. The way to distinguish between scammers and actual people who know what they're doing is to look at their track records.

    The people at Zide/Perry are not "scammers". The people at AEI are not "scammers".

  17. #17
    minion kullervo's Avatar
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    Fantastically common in screenwriting, not a scam, legitimate companies. I've been repped by the former Zide/Perry. Go pitch, and good luck.

    http://www.kullervo.com/The_Agents.html

    L

  18. #18
    practical experience, FTW
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    From what I understand, pitching a screenplay is an art and something that is best done in person. I suppose I can understand why literary managers might be desirable for screenplay writers.

  19. #19
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Hopefully this should help with the rampant misinformation that's around.

    I run Quattro Media. I've been in the management business in the entertainment industry for over 20 years and i've represented creators, writers, directors, publishers and various other types of creative personnel.

    First, it always pays to be properly represented. No matter what you are doing in life. In terms of screenwriting deals or book deals, unless you're a very experienced professional you dont know the day to day appetites of one firm vs another and you dont know the gives on any particular deal vs another. For screenwriters, having no representation or inexperienced representation leads writers to be potentially very taken advantage of. There are many deal points that even established writers wont understand.

    The difference between managers and agents? Think macro vs micro. Agents should be specialists in a given field. Think a SVP of sales with experience in a narrow field like feature film literary or in books maybe thrillers. A manager is more macro. I liken it to a defacto COO, where they corral all of someone's activity into a cohesive strategy. If someone is also repped at a large agency, it means coordinating between departments, keeping everyone on task among others. Tasks that would befall a manager are development, optioning material (like an article that someone found), packaging, yes helping to procure an agent or attorney, laying a foundation by promoting and marketing someone, pr, overseeing legal on a deal, advising on personal matters (we've bought cars for clients and helped arrange mortgages, introduce people to the right realtors), ie manage their life and career.

    It does all cost money. Artists at the beginning of their career shouldnt pinch pennies. They should want the best money (or they) can buy. Focus should be on the bottom line not top line. Every person employed should be able to point to a value that they helped create or add to that exceeds their cost. (Just like everything you buy, you want to feel like you got a good deal.) Managers are generally 10% in the lit business. Agents for tv and screenwriters are 10%, book agents higher. Business managers are 5%. Publicists are paid monthly often 3k+ per month.

    Business that have a gross margin of 75% are doing pretty damn good. And it is a business and you should run it as a business.

    There are experienced people and inexperienced "comers" in all fields. You should do homework and look people up. You can succeed in the entertainment industry through the investment of time or money. Homework takes a bit of both. But the homework pays off. Buy a book called The Hollywood Representation Directory (www.hcdonline.com). It's published by the gang who publish The Hollywood Reporter. Then do even more homework.

    Good luck.

    -Jim Strader
    QUATTRO MEDIA

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