Formulas don’t necessarily exist for writing the perfect letter to Agents, it’s not mathematics. There are simple things you can do, to drastically increase your chances of your letter being read, rather than becoming waste paper.
Know who you’re writing to.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to know exactly who you’re sending your submission to. So much of the profession is about research and sourcing somebody who you’d like to represent you is no different in terms of the way it should be approached. It’s no use writing generic letters, you should really invest some valuable time into finding out more about the agency.
Get the balance right between formal and familiar.
Remember, unless you know the person that you’re writing to, they’re an industry professional and they will not appreciate you making jokes or including gimmicks (they’ve all had submissions with tea bags included to ‘soothe them while they read’) it is an instant turn-off. You should be polite and friendly but not overbearing or in any way pushy.
Make sure your photographs are up-to-date.
This may sound obvious but making sure that your 10×8 photographs are a true representation of your look is incredibly important. If you’ve lost weight over the last few years or drastically changed your hair style, invest some money into new head shots and refrain from writing to agents for a while. It’s incredibly embarrassing to turn up to an interview and look nothing like the photo that you’ve sent them. Your look is probably one of the main reasons that they want to see you.
Keep the letter concise.
It goes without saying that all good agents are incredibly busy people and they’re working with people whom they already represent. Although they all have systems in place to monitor new submissions, if your letter is too long, it won’t be read. There’s nothing worse than opening a letter and revealing something akin to a dissertation beneath the envelope. Certainly write no more than 200 words and use an easily readable font at an appropriate size (12pt). You don’t need to include your entire CV on your cover letter, as all of these credits appear on your CV.
If there is common ground, by all means talk about it.
Having said above not to include credits on your CV, if in the last project you worked on, you were working with one of the Agents clients then this could be a terrific starting point in your letter: “I was delighted to learn that I have just worked with your client John Smith in the Production of Midsummer Nights dream at the Donmar, we all had a brilliant time working on it…” Furthermore, if they represent other performers from the institution that you’ve trained – include a sentence or two about that. More than anything else, it shows that you’ve bothered to look at their client list and that you’ve made professional associations with those you’ve worked with or trained alongside.
Consider different ways of presentation.
This statement should be treated with caution. Glamourising letters with colour and illustrations, stickers and fancy artwork can appear unprofessional and ‘gimmicky’. Try and avoid this at all costs. However, if you are appearing in a production that you’d like the Agent to consider coming to view, perhaps sending a professionally designed postcard might be an option? Companies print these at a relatively low cost and if you are unable to design it yourself, fiverr.com provide people who will do it for you for under £3.50. It gives the Agent less to read and digest and perhaps they’d be more inclined to pick up the diary and check their availability?
There is far more to chat about on this subject and we will do so in due course. If we can help save you time by providing some labels, so that you can dedicate more time to the content of your submissions, you can see them here http://alreadylabelled.com/casting-agent-labels/
We welcome all of your comments and if you’d like to talk through your agent letter with one of our team, feel free to sent it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll take a look at it.
Good luck with your early 2013 submissions.