Do you think having a publisher or making a bestseller list guarantees that Hollywood producers will be interested in your work?
Think again. They know that publishing is a whole new game now, with a lot of amateurs playing it.
People who can barely type a sentence are coming out with books now. Folks who barely eke out a blog post are coming out with books so mundane, it boggles the mind.
Even if you are a great writer, your talent won’t be noticed based on Amazon rank or bestseller status alone. Not with success based on algorithms alone.
So much work goes into making motion pictures, whether theatrical releases or episodic shows on streaming channels.
Here are a few home truths to consider.
#1 Movie deals are made based on personal relationships.
It’s easier than ever to reach out to producers, managers, and agents to make them aware of you and your work. But, it’s not cool to simply approach them as a complete stranger and ask for favors before you even get to know them.
There are ways to network with folks in the industry, but like anything else in this business, it takes time and effort.
One of the things I hope to do is fill you in on what I’ve been doing to balance my fiction writing life with my screenwriting life, as well as my personal life. This hasn’t been easy, but I’m determined to try my best.
#2 Anyone who tells you that they can guarantee your success through some kind of algorithmic magic is full of it.
All of this—publishing, movies, video games, animated shows—all of it is related. It comprises an eco-system of sorts. Books, articles, and even comic strips have been adapted into movies for years. Then, into television shows. Or podcasts, now. (They used to be adapted into radio shows.)
That’s why owning your IP (intellectual property) is so important. In the film business, books are called IP straight out, because owning the IP is what it’s all about. To be clear, copyright is one type of IP and owning the copyright to your writing gives you the maximum control over your rights. And you can pick and choose what rights to license and which ones to retain, i.e., what a producer can do with your work and any limitations on same.
#3 Having your book turned into a movie or TV show is a long, complicated, and expensive business. So chances are you’ll not suddenly become a millionaire if your work is adapted.
Here’s an article that’ll put you wise to some of the realities of the entertainment business.
How filmmakers make a living while trying to “make it”.
The bottom line is, you don’t make a movie based on weak-ass material, simply because there’s way too much time and money at stake.
For anyone to invest time and effort in your work, they really have to love what you’ve written. They have to believe in it, with all their heart and soul.
These are the kind of judgments publishers and literary agents also make, all the time. They have to fall in love with the material.
So, you have to decide where you want to put your efforts. And I would suggest focusing less on cheesy sales tactics and more on meeting people or connecting with them somehow, in addition to writing on a regular basis. And just learning the ropes of storytelling.
No matter what, however, always remember the words of screenwriter and novelist William Goldman: “Nobody knows anything.”
Originally published here.