Pub Rants

Hollywood Rant (Part One)

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I often pop my head in over at or and answer questions.

Last week a writer posted that he was just about to send out his query and wanted to know the “good” agents who were aggressive in film rights because his novel “would make an excellent movie.”

I just shook my head.

He’s only in the query stage. Who knows if he’ll get requests for sample pages or requests for his full manuscript—I hope he does but who knows. Then he would need to be offered representation and finally, once represented his book needs to actually sell to a publisher.

And he’s worried about film rights for a book that, for all practical purposes, isn’t even in existence in published form yet.

Obviously he’s never seen one of the fifty page movie option/purchase contracts from any of the big studios. Otherwise he might be not so fired up to sell his soul to the devil—oops, I mean Hollywood (more on that later).

Not to mention, it’s hard enough to cut a book-to-film deal for a published work. An unpublished work is almost an impossibility—almost because anything can happen.

But the truth is this: his concern for film rights is more than just premature; it’s the wrong goal or focus for any writer.

Why? Because Hollywood wants to look at everything but the reality is that they option very little and even fewer titles actually go into production to be seen in a movie theater near you.

As a writer, your focus should be on your writing and the selling of the print rights (including translation rights). All else is such a long shot, it’s a moot point.

So (and can you tell I’ve been leading up to this) starting your query letter with “and this would make an excellent movie,” just doesn’t impress me much.

Every writer believes his/her book would make a wildly successful movie. Hollywood rarely agrees.

12 Responses

  1. December Quinn said:

    But mine really would! It’s a 350,000-word cross between “The Deerhunter” and “Two Week’s Notice”, and it’s got aliens in it, too!

    I envision Spielberg directing, with Jennifer Aniston and Joseph Fiennes in the lead roles.

    Please reply to me immediately, because I plan to send an e-query to every agent I can find, so you could miss out on this golden oportunity to be RICH if you don’t snap up this book right away!

  2. Anonymous said:

    Reputedly, when Anne Rice left the movie premier of her novel, ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ and was asked by a reporter for a comment on the cinematic version of her book, she said: “That’s not my book.”

    Amen. I’ve read the book and I’ve seen the movie. And let’s not dwell over-long on what weedy one-dimensional Tom Cruise did to “An Interview with a Vampire.” Hopefully the advance the studio paid her was large enough to cover some of Ms Rice’s obvious shame, both times round, because Hollywood crapped all over her amazing stories.

    My advice to the budding author who wants movie rights for his unpublished, unsolicited, unagented, unrequested and unread manuscript: Aim a little higher than Tinsel Town.

  3. Anonymous said:

    I get that “movie” thing from readers all the time. Drives me crazy. I like books. I write BOOKS. Would I turn down a gazillion dollars from Paramount? No. But my first love is writing books.

  4. Pamela said:

    OK, funny story. I live in So. Cal. and the dad of one of my kids’ friends actually is a movie producer with some repspectable credits. He’s written a children’s book, and is banging his head to get it published. He has an agent, and has even told the publishers he will make a movie out of it. They told him to make the movie first then they’d talk.

  5. Anonymous said:

    Speaking of queries, do you respond to all queries that come through your website, or only the ones that catch your interest?


  6. GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming said:

    The thought of my work (yet to be published) being turned into a movie horrifies. Movies usually butcher beautiful novels! I absolutely never watch a movie that was first a book until I’ve read the book. And the only movie that I ever liked better than the book was The Notebook. I think that with a book, you create the characters and emotions and settings, and when you see the book-turned-into-a-movie, it never matches the images you have created of the book in your mind. In fact, one of my all time favorite books is Les Miserables, I’ve read it three times, and my mom once gave me a movie-version and I threw it away! I’m afraid if I watch the movie, I’ll never read the book the same because I’m afraid the movie-visuals will constantly be overriding my own visuals of the book that I created in my mind the first time I read it! So, if it’s a book I particularly love, I can not watch the movie! The same goes for Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. I loved the book too much to watch the movie! I don’t want to taint my image of the book…. maybe it’s just me. Anyone else feel the same?
    GirlGrownUp, Still Dreaming

  7. Anonymous said:

    Anne Fine wrote Mrs. Doubtfire, not Anne Rice, though that is one of the funniest things I’ve read all day.