- Jenna Fischer,
star of "The Office"

Book Review by Petrea Burchard

Haven’t you always wanted to be a fly on the wall in a Hollywood agent’s office?

I’m one lucky actor because my agents are my friends. I know how hard they work from an inside point of view: I’ve answered phones at their office on busy days, prepared submissions when the assistant took a vacation and even covered for Blanche in theatrical when she had to leave town for a conference.

This is good for me because it shows me what I can do to better my chances in the business. It’s also good for my agents, because they have a client who knows what they’re up against and appreciates what they need from me.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a friend who was an agent? Well, now we do. His name is Tony Martinez and his new book, “An Agent Tells All” (HIT TEAM Publishing) is a rare, friendly look at the business of agenting—from the inside.

Martinez began in the training program at Paradigm, then worked for five years as an agent at Epstein Wyckoff & Associates. Now he’s at GVA, where he’s been for four years. His book takes you through these places and more in his relaxed, conversational style. You attend meetings with him, listen in on phone calls and examine headshots and resumes. He guides you through big deals and small, showing you how they work (and don’t work) and sharing candid opinions.

If you’ve ever sent out a hundred submissions to agents and wondered why you didn’t get a single call, perhaps the chapter on “Getting an Agent,” is your best reason to read the book. It’s a damned good chapter, where Martinez walks you through the process and even helps you understand why an agency might not pick you, even if you do everything right.

Or maybe you thought your last meeting went great and still the agent didn’t sign you. Until “An Agent Tells All” I’ve never seen a chapter about “The All-Important Meeting.” Martinez’s anecdotes will likely clarify why your meeting wasn’t such a good one after all, and help you get it right next time. And his horror stories about bad behavior and dangerous cleavage are hilarious.

Maybe you’ve already got an agent. How’s it going? Do you feel welcomed when you call? Are you getting out enough? Are you a good client or a pain in the butt? Equally important: is your agent doing a good job of selling you? What’s the agency’s procedure? Do you know how they operate on a day-to-day basis? Martinez goes over the agent-client relationship under chapter headings like “How to be a Good Client” and “What About Managers?” (Better read that chapter before you sign with one.)

Agents will like this book, too, if only to laugh at the stories and say, “Me, too!” My commercial agent, Juliana, told me she’d spent half a morning on the phone pitching a client, and when she finally got him an audition slot she reached him on his cell phone…in Phoenix. He hadn’t bothered to book out.

“How hard is it?” she wailed on the phone to me later that afternoon.. “How hard is it to call when you’re going out of town, or to put your head shot on line, or to show up on time? How hard is it to be a good client?”

(She illustrated her point further by citing another client who had called from the hospital to book out…when he was having a heart attack. “He didn’t have to do that,” she said, “but boy is he a great client.”)

I liked that story. It’s fun to have an agent for a friend.

Now you’ve got an agent friend, too. His name is Tony Martinez and you’re invited to spend some time in his office.

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