Choosing a talent agent

If you haven't been discovered yet, and don't know how to start.
So, you think you've got what it takes. Maybe it's big-screen charisma and you're ready for a casting call, or perhaps you have the Great American novel waiting to be published. But you just haven't been discovered yet, and don't know how to start.

That's where hiring an agent can help. This may not be Hollywood, but there are plenty of talent and talent agents to go around. Start your search for the best representation by asking a few questions:
  • When do I need a talent agent?

    Are you working enough in your desired craft? If the answer is no, then a good talent agent can help get you to the next level.

  • How much does an agent make?

    Typically, you should count on an agent making a commission up to 10 percent of your earnings. Walk away if any agent tries to charge you a retainer or signing fee. Good agents should rely on getting you work to earn their money.

  • How do agents earn their percentage?

    Put simply, agents are in the business of opening doors. A good agent will have a ready-made network of casting executives, talent scouts, record executives, and/or publishers, depending on their specialty. Your agent will understand your talent and goals and will actively seek out opportunities for you.

  • Couldn't I do this myself?

    You could, but be aware that it's probably a tougher road. Having a reputable agent tells the people considering you that you're a legitimate player -- someone who is committed to the craft.

    In addition, agents are trained negotiators who understand contract language and can work to get you paid appropriately when you land a job.

  • So how do I find a good agent?

    Start developing a network. Check our profiles on, and attend entertainment-related classes or meetings. Seek out people doing the work you aspire to do, and find out how they got where they are. Directories such as “Writer’s Market” are another good resource.

  • Once I've found a good agent, how can I get him or her to represent me?

    If you want an agent to work hard for you, you have to put the effort in first. This means you need to demonstrate your best work:
    • If you're an actor, you should have quality headshot publicity photos and samples of your work, or be ready to audition for the agent.

    • If you're a musician, have a demo CD with your best tracks.

    • And if you're a writer, you should have a completed manuscript or screenplay, not just a treatment or idea.

  • When can I expect to start seeing results?

    The answer is entirely up to you. An agent can get you an audition, tryout, or a meeting, but it is ultimately you who will "close the deal."

    The harder you work at your craft, the harder your agent will work for you. Agents only make money when you sign on the dotted line. In the entertainment business, success breeds success. How much you have is up to you.


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