STATUS: Busy but I’m feeling productive. Contract stuff is still dragging along. So close to finishing too. Maybe it will all resolve tomorrow.
What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE IMPRESSION THAT I GET by Mighty Mighty Bosstones
Am I making too broad a statement by saying that every author dreams of having their book made into a movie?
After all, Hollywood butchers it more often than not. Still, I can’t think of a better 2-hour commercial for a book than a movie. There is no doubt that it sells books—even if the movie isn’t good.
But I think writers are often a little clueless on how a book-to-film deal works. (And I know this by all the queries from screenwriters that I receive.)
Let me clarify to begin. I rep books. I don’t rep screenplays. I sell the print and subsidiary rights for my clients’ projects. Film/dramatic rights are simply one of the subsidiary rights that I shop so my clients can earn more money.
I get queries all the time from authors who have published their works with small publishers and are now looking for someone to shop just the film rights. I don’t do that. I only shop film rights of client projects for which I’ve sold the primary print rights. Why? Because Hollywood is always such a long shot that the money isn’t worth it otherwise. I’m only willing to expend the time and energy for my own clients. Make sense?
To do this, I have Hollywood co-agents because they are the experts (just as lit agents are the experts in publishing). As partners, we split the 20% commission for the sale.
But I don’t work with just one co-agent. I tend to work with a variety of folks at the various book-to-film agencies in L.A. Why? Because the co-agents choose which projects they like and think they can sell. Just because I partner with them doesn’t mean they are willing to take on every project for which my agency sold the print rights. Co-agents want sell-able projects and although lots of stuff is published, not all of it works for the screen. It’s always on a project-by project basis.
That’s why literary agents partner with more than one co-agent. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of finding the right fit (almost like finding the right editor). I’ve had one Hollywood co-agent pass on a project that wasn’t his/her cup of tea only to have it picked up by a different co-agent who loved it and sold it.
Ultimately, I need a co-agent who is enthusiastic enough about the project to keep pitching it even if it doesn’t sell right away.