(Just a note, this article was featured in our November 2019 Newsletter. Some references may not correspond with recent events. To receive our articles first, you can subscribe to our newsletter here.)
It seems like yesterday that I launched my agency, but it has actually been seventeen years. I could write a whole article about how much has changed in the last two decades (the rise of ebooks, anyone?). But there has been another tectonic shift in an unexpected arena in the last two years—one that has been consuming an incredible amount of agent hours in the day. Still, authors should be rejoicing. This is THE time to be a content creator, and I’ll explain why.
I used to be pretty dang proud of the fact that in my first fifteen years of agenting, I did more than thirty film/TV deals. It was hard to land an option, and I was averaging two a year. Stellar numbers! Now I laugh as I write this article.
Why? Because with the advent of streaming (Netflix, Disney+, Apple, Amazon Prime, and the list goes on), all these platforms want content, content, content. The result? Film/TV options coming from every which way.
In the last two years, I’ve done fifteen film/TV deals, and I have another two coming down the pike in just a few weeks. That is a stunning number of option deals. So yay for clients! But as an agent, working through film/TV deals right (terms are getting onerous, and Hollywood is trying to make a grab for a lot of rights), any negotiation can take five to eight months to complete—with numerous rounds on potentially deal-killing issues. My fave? When a producer or studio insists on “novelization rights” when they are buying an existing novel on which to base their movie. Yep, you read that correctly. Needless to say, any insistence on that point will kill the option deal outright.
In good news, we almost always manage to find common ground so the deal can happen. But it can take a lot of phone conferences, emails, and conversations to make it so.
A lot of agenting hours in the day dedicated to something other than selling an actual book to a publisher.
Creative Commons Credit: Tri Nguyen