How to get a new agent
So you want a new agent do you? Well the work starts here, and by Lord there's quite a bit of work to do. Pull up a chair, put your phone away (and on silent, please) and let's get started.
Your first port of call should be the agencies websites, which in 99% of cases provide all the information you need on how to apply for representation. If you don't know which ones to go to, then check out the book Contacts - available directly from Spotlight or from bookshops - or The Actors Yearbook (this book has some information on submissions too but make sure it's a reasonably up to date copy - last two years or close). In identifying which are the top agents, you will need to trawl through the list to find which ones may be those ones, and then check the websites. If that's too much work or you're short of time, talk to someone who has more experience, has been in the business longer, a teacher/lecturer if you are at drama school or taking classes, or of course a famous actor who is with an agency! Casting Call Pro also has a resource that shows which agents has their books open at the moment to accept submissions, and sometimes what type of clients they are looking for - boys, just for commercial work, etc; check this out too.
So when writing your letter or email as a request for representation, keep it polite, concise, professional and to the point, trying to make the important things stand out. Make sure you individualise your letter to each agency - they get a million of these letters and they will be instinctive at seeing a generic letter. If you don't they will pick up on this and chances are it will get ignored. Mention why you would like to go with them, if they were recommended to you from one of their clients; anything that might get their attention and establish a connection between you. Imagine you are a busy agent with loads of these letters to read every day, and try to think what you would then look for. Always include a CV and your Spotlight details, and again check whether they want a photo and/or showreel too - some don't any more, and some are fine with just a photo at the top of your CV.
A good trick is to choose when you are writing to a new agent. This may be when you have a new showreel, when you are looking to change agents, or the best time being when you are going to be performing in a show. This can be a prestigious West End or off-West End credit, a fringe production, a showcase evening or a showcase or production at drama school. Bear in mind that if you feel your show isn't really that good or worthy then this may not be the best time to write; you don't want people to see you in something you don't have any faith in, as this could scupper your chances in the future.
Now once you have sent your email or letter and it's been a few days or a week, I would recommend you send a follow up if you have had your show well reviewed. Again keep it concise, and it is just a follow up - a quick note, this is not a re-application.
If you don't hear anything for a while then don't worry, as said they get loads and loads of submissions everyday and it takes them a long time to sift through all the crap until they get to yours. If you only write to ten and you don't hear anything, it's time to write to another ten. If you don't hear from them, then write to ten more. If you don't hear from then, well you know...
And now if they want to meet you, great. But remember, this is just a meeting, not a guarantee that they will take you on, so be prepared for such an eventuality. But be fully prepared for the interview as well so you can do your best. Be serious about your work and be on your game, but don't be pushy, rude or anything like that. ‘Astonish me' is a good way to think. Imagine they walk out of that room after meeting you, and someone asks how you were. They say ‘they were astonishing!' Now, work your way up to that level. You might not get there, but you'll bloody well be good if you've reached for such a high level. Also, challenge them and ask them questions. They may be in control, but show them you've got something as well. ‘What can you offer me?' What kind of auditions am I going to get? What kind of support system will be there for me? What plans would you put in place for my career progression?' are all good and reasonable questions to ask, and will show them that you are serious and you know your stuff.
You have to know that sometimes this can be a long game. It can take weeks and weeks and sometimes months of letters and emails to get a new agent. But if you do get one, and then start getting better auditions, then isn't it worth it? I know from absolute experience that persistence pays off. Work hard, and good luck.