questionmarkI sent a query letter online to an agency. They emailed me back within the week and said they’d be interested in representing me.

But they suggested I send my script to an editor (one they recommended for me, at a cost of $100 paid to the editor) to help polish it up before they submit it to potential buyers. They emailed me a contract to sign, saying they’d wait until the critique is done before they assign me an agent.

They said that they’re “sellers” by trade, and not “editors” and it would be in both our best interests to have a critique of my work done to ensure that my screenplay looks its best for potential buyers. Even though I wouldn’t be paying the agency directly, it seems shady to me that they are suggesting I pay money in order to have my screenplay get sold. Shouldn’t they know a good script when they see one? Is this a common practice among other agencies or should I run?

— Matt
via imdb

This feels super-shady. Run away.

Agents make a living by taking 10 percent of your screenwriting earnings. They get paid when you get paid. Any situation where they’re asking you for money up front is cause for concern.

If any readers out there have had good experiences with agencies like the one Matt describes, please write in. I don’t think the mailbox will be overflowing.