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A day in the life of an agent

For a start, no two days are the same. And pre-covid was different from covid and probably will be different once we have got the better of covid.

Some days are remarkably different too, like our recent Blake Friedmann awayday. Every year for one day we close the agency and the whole staff retreat to a peaceful room, accompanied by lots of food and drink (everyone brings something). We spend the day discussing the past year and looking forward to the coming year.

Our finance people have analysed our client revenue by client and by genre. We compare the last year with previous years and the last seven years with the previous seven years. We then have presentations from the book department on current and future trends in publishing, and from the media department on trends but for film and TV.

We sometimes play games, or reveal an object of some significance that is important to us. We sometimes talk about game-changers: what would be a game changer for each of us in our jobs. As well as hopes for the future and highlights of the past. And we laugh a lot.

At a recent away day (which was of course on zoom and spread over two days because spending eight hours on zoom in one day is almost a form of torture) one of the staff said that “…working with motivated colleagues is very contagious. The dedication of colleagues transmits and everyone in the agency has it and it makes every day more worthwhile.”

That makes me wish we did these collaborative sessions more often, since at the moment (in lockdown) every day is spent at home and on zooms, Teams, or Blue Jeans (the latter is video conferencing with dolby sound).

We find we have more meetings in lockdown than before, when you had to travel to a meeting. So deals and contracts get done faster and more efficiently. I’m trying to do some reading during the day, which I never used to do unless I took off a reading day. I usually read at night, but looking at a screen for six hours a day makes me feel more tired than I used to so watching documentaries or sport is the way to relax after dinner, rather than reading.

LA calls (or New York or Toronto) often cut into dinner or the evening, but it is manageable.

I feel guilty that I don’t watch endless TV drama and movies. I know I should, but that’s too much like work. And after a day of editing or contracts and zoom calls, I am less thrilled by working and more interested in escaping so I am fresh for the action in the morning.

Agents are lucky: working from home is relatively easy and Intellectual property has retained its value, perhaps it has even increased in value. Which has meant we can be even more effective for our clients.

An average day is therefore a mix of things, usually starting with responding to emails – I receive and send a total of about 100 emails a day. Not all are work-related. Usually my day is structured around zoom calls to producers, clients, colleagues and sometimes friends. In between the zooms there are submission lists to be compiled to send out a piece of work, which also means drafting the submission email and checking the pitch, treatment and script.

If there are responses to submissions they get entered (as do the submissions) in a Numbers spreadsheet so I can track things. The data is sent to a colleague to input it onto the company database, a duplication necessary because I don’t go into the office.

There is usually some contract work, perhaps responding to a draft I sent out. And then there is reading. Some gets done during the day. If I need to concentrate I sit in the conservatory so I am nearly outside and don’t have the urgent ToDo list on my desk distracting me. I do think that since Covid I can be distracted more easily than before.

In case you are worried, I also have lunch, top up the bird feeders, have the occasional walk and do some gardening if it is not raining. In terms of hours actually working I suspect that since Covid I am actually working longer hours than I did before. But it makes self-isolating in lockdown easy and productive. I think those of us who work in the publishing, film and TV world as agents are very lucky.

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