Jobs with writing – what they involve and tips for getting in. Part 2: literary agent and scriptwriter

Literary Agent;

The work:

· Sifting through the ‘slush pile’ (samples of work which people have submitted) and approaching writers you’d like to work with

· Agents usually take a percentage of sales of their clients’ work: (typically it takes at least 18 months for work to be at the stage where it can be published)

· Pitching clients’ work to publishers, editors, producers or film companies and negotiating on their behalf

· Reading drafts and giving constructive feedback to clients

· Dealing with contracts, payments, legal, financial and translation rights on behalf of clients

· Long hours; no time for reading during the day, so literary agents read samples, manuscripts and drafts outside working hours

· Roles mainly London, Oxford, Edinburgh

· Typical starting salary for an assistant: £16-18,000

Increase your chances of getting in:

· Follow literary agencies, scouts and literary agents on twitter

· Start by researching literary agents via twitter or The Bookseller to see whether they offer paid internships

· Can also move into this area of work from publishing

· Need to be thick-skinned to handle the ups and downs which come with the role, a keen eye for detail is important and you also need to be good at multi-tasking and prioritising

· Usually start off as agent’s assistant, with the opportunity to move into literary agent role if you show potential after a few years

· Join groups and attend conferences: SYP, SCBWI, Women in publishing

Find out more: BBC News – Top 10 tips for being a literary agent


The work:

· Writing scripts for film, TV, radio or theatre, or working on commissions to turn a book into a play or film

· Could be hoping to sell the script to a producer, studio or theatre company, or could be commissioned to write a show or play which has already been conceptualised.

· Periods of unemployment, temping or unpaid work which fit around scriptwriting are common

· Getting a paid job and scriptwriting during your spare-time is an option for some

· In contrast to the stereotype of the solitary scriptwriter, collaboration with others is really important, for example to get the technical details right

Increase your chances of getting in:

· Understanding the industry – paid work within film, theatre or TV alongside scriptwriting is ideal (e.g. sifting others’ scripts or working as a runner)

· Need to be talented in this area, to be able to structure your time and to be self-motivated to succeed (be honest with yourself)

· Spend lots of time reading and analysing others’ work

· Get lots of feedback from experienced writers or producers, try asking via Twitter: you’ll find people generally more helpful than you might imagine

Find out more: BBC Writers Room


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