November’s One-A-Day Q&A – Question #9

9 11 2016

Q: [Part 2] How do I know if I need an agent? What is the best way to approach agents…with cold calls or newsletters?


A: Pitching agents must be done in the same professional manner that you would pursue manufacturers, or the way that you would pitch the biggest account you ever tried to nail, and got it.

While agents tend to be art lovers, they probably get ten – a hundred or even more than a hundred pitches every month from all types of artists.  The bottom line is that they are in the ‘agenting’ business to make money.  Some people, especially artists, tend to forget that. I really want to make sure that you know that your objective should be to sell yourself to an agent on how they can make money from your art.  That’s the key.  And very few agents, in today’s economy, can afford the time it would take to train you in the ‘ins and outs’ of the licensing business.  It’s up to you to come to them with as much knowledge as possible and ready to ‘hit the market’ running.

This means you are going to have to do some work before you go out and get your agent.  Many artists, in fact the majority I see and hear from other agents, come to agents ill-prepared. So, my advice is to study and learn. Go about it the way you would go to school to learn something. Study all you can about the industry, spend time first organizing your art, building your portfolio, creating collections and preparing an agent presentation complete with a letter of introduction.  You need to know enough about the industry in order to talk intelligently with that agent.

There are many people that get coaching before they go out to get an agent which is smart because that way they’re not so naïve. You can get training in how to find the right agent, as well as how to protect yourself when dealing with agents (i.e. negotiating your contract, what questions to ask, etc.).

If you truly want to have an agent, then approach the process of researching, learning and pitching those agents as your full-time business for a while. There is another bonus to learning everything you need to know about managing your agent; having already done all that, if you do decide you want to represent yourself, you’re really going to be in a good position to begin.

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