How to forge ahead without an agent

I want to tell you a bit more about my writer’s journey, especially in regards to agents. I hope it will give you some food for thought.

When I started out I was convinced that the key to success was having an agent, because that’s what everyone talked about. It seemed to be the one thing you absolutely had to pursue. But at the same time, everyone said how hard it was to get one. It felt like a catch 22.

Wise words from an agent

I went to infinite industry talks, especially ones involving agents, to try to glean as much useful information as I could find. And it was at one such talk that I received some very unexpected advice. The agent speaking was Julian Friedmann of Blake Friedmann, and although this was quite some years ago, I still remember exactly what he said.

To a room full of eager newbie screenwriters he firstly explained that his existing clients were his top priority, quite naturally. But because he was so busy with them, if he were to take on a new client, he would have to sack an existing client in order to look after his new client. I couldn’t believe it!

He went on to say that it usually takes at least a year, probably more, for a new client to start earning any money; so he would have to be pretty damn sure that this new client was worth taking on. Gulp! Was I ready? Probably not. I certainly didn’t want anyone to have to sack a client in order to take me on. What pressure!

But it’s the next thing he said that had the biggest impact on me. And that’s this: you don’t actually need an agent to make things happen.

That’s right, you don’t need an agent. You can approach industry people on your own. And that’s exactly what you should be doing. Not putting all your energy into finding an agent in the hopes that they will do everything for you.  

Hearing this was hugely liberating.

Life changer

As a result of this one piece of information, I changed my frame of mind and my behaviour. I stopped being obsessed with how on earth I was going to get an agent. Instead, I started trying to make stuff happen for myself. Instead of putting my work and my career in someone else’s hands, I started to actively try to get things off the ground myself.

I don’t have an agent right now, but I have had one in the past, and I can tell you, one of the most frustrating things is waiting around for news. Not knowing what they’re doing. And not knowing what you should be doing. Without an agent, I am the one doing the moving and shaking. Even when only making baby steps forward, it’s something, and that little bit of control is quite thrilling. Especially when you end up having a big breakthrough.

Over the years, some of the things that I’ve made happen include:

Getting some sketches on TV, having a feature film optioned, getting a publishing deal for my children’s picture book, finding a producer and director for my animation series, pitching my series to broadcasters from all over the world, writing an animated film that was broadcast on TV in multiple countries, released in 200 cinemas and nominated for 2 awards and getting hired to write animation for a major children’s app.

All this was done without an agent, thanks to a certain amount of introverted networking.

Way too slow…

But the thing is, it happened slowly, and with hindsight I wish I’d had someone on my back urging me to do more. Like many writers, I love the writing, but all too often the marketing tends to get pushed to the bottom of my list.

I became a writing coach because I want to pass on the things that took me years to learn – to help other writers have an easier ride than I have had. I want to be the coach that I really needed.  

Let me help you…

As a coach, I can help with many aspects of the writing process – such as goal setting. We often know we want to write a book or a script, but we don’t know all the many steps along the way to help us get there. If you don’t know the little steps, you can sometimes feel blocked and unable to move forward. I can help you figure out your goal and then break it down into small manageable steps so that it doesn’t feel overwhelming.

I can also help with accountability, by being a sounding board for an idea, tackling creative blocks, helping overcome issues of self-confidence. But I can also help you work on your career strategy whether you have an agent or not.

Sometimes we don’t know what we should be doing to market ourselves. Other times, we know exactly what we should be doing, but nonetheless, we keep putting it off, because it’s really hard work.

With my accountability, I will help you figure out what marketing work you need to do and make sure you put the business side of your writing to the top of your ‘to do’ list, week after week (if you’re at that stage with your writing).

How coaching works…

My coaching takes place via Skype or Zoom. Depending on the programme you choose, we will normally have a call every week or two. Through a series of questions, we explore what issues you’re facing, and I suggest strategies to help you overcome them. Together we come up with a plan to ensure that you meet whatever goal you set. It’s usually a lot of fun – you get to work towards a long held dream, which is thrilling. You commit to setting aside time just for your writing and know that you are making it a top priority. What could be better than that?


If you like the sound of coaching, but want to know more, drop me a line and we’ll set up a brief complimentary call. I can answer any questions you may have, and we can discuss where you are with your writing and see if my coaching might be a good fit. You can also find out more about my three coaching programmes here, here and here.

Quick heads up, due to my own writing commitments, I’m only able to work with a limited number of clients. So don’t hang about in case I get booked up.

If you’re passionate about writing but finding it a struggle, let me know because I’d love to work with you.

By the way, if you find my posts helpful, you can sign up for my weekly newsletter here where I share tips on all aspects of writing, productivity, habits and different ways of marketing yourself and your work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *