I was recently offered representation by a one person boutique agency that doesn’t handle alot of clients. I came across her via referral from an editor who I contacted about editing my book proposal. We exchanged some emails and everything seemed fine. Then one day, she mentioned that she thought my story would not only make a good book, but would also make a good movie. She told me that she had some contacts in film and tv and would pitch my project there in addition to publishers. Naturally, I was excited by this, as I also thought the story would make a good movie. I was happy to have found someone who shared my vision. Then, I asked her about pitching to tv/film
producers. She told me that she would use the same document (book proposal),
but that the pitch would be different. I know little about this business, but that doesn’t sound right to me. Any thoughts?
It’s so hard to really answer your question based on the little bit of information you have given. What I think is that you should probably run. Trust your gut. Something isn’t sitting right with you about this agent, and whether this agent is legit or not might not be the problem, the problem is that you don’t really trust the agent and that right there is reason enough to run for me.
Let me break the question down a little. The agent runs a one-person boutique agency. That shouldn’t be a problem at all. We all have to start somewhere and many, many agents started as a one-person operation. In fact, the only reason some agencies are bigger is because they eventually hired an assistant who has since moved up. I don’t see a problem with that.
The agent doesn’t handle a lot of clients. Again, I don’t see an inherent problem with that. Many agents maintain very small but very successful lists. You don’t have to have hundreds of clients to be successful. The question here shouldn’t be how many clients the agent has, but her success rate with the clients she does have. In other words, has she ever sold any books to major houses, or at least the houses you are interested in pursuing?
Your biggest concern is that she feels the pitch for a book would be different than one for TV or film. I don’t see a problem with that either. I’ve said it before that books and films are two different mediums and two different worlds. It only makes sense you would pitch the book differently. In fact, I sometimes pitch the book differently to different publishers. It all depends on what the publisher might be looking for or what their expertise is.
There’s no concrete evidence in your question that this agent is a scam or a bad agent. What comes through most to me is that you aren’t sure you should trust this agent, and I think that’s the biggest concern. If you want more information before making the decision to run, then I would contact some of the agent’s clients and find out how they feel about her. If they have had success at least half of them should have web sites you can contact them through, and don’t forget to check out Writer Beware and other writer advocacy web sites.