Question: How do I get my book made into a TV show or movie?


Hollywood's interest in books is increasing as more content is needed for tv shows and movies.Answer:

The demand from Hollywood for interesting ideas and stories has never been greater, and industry decision-makers love to find adaptable content in books. This is great news for authors, as many dream of seeing their stories made into television shows or films.

The challenge is that most authors don’t understand the book adaptation process or what makes Hollywood want to option a book and develop it for the screen. Having this knowledge can greatly increase the chances of your work being noticed, and keep you from making costly mistakes along the way.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Have You Retained Your Book’s Development Rights?

The very first step, before investing any time or money in pursuing your book-to-screen dream, is to confirm you have the development rights for your book. In turn, this should be the first question that any parties ask when expressing interest in adapting your book for the screen.

Various, important rights come into question when writing and publishing a book. The development rights or performance rights are a part of the book’s subsidiary rights, which include translations, audiobooks, screen adaptations, and more.

Before you pursue a book-to-screen adaptation, carefully check your publishing contract and read the fine print. Sometimes traditional publishing contracts will grant the publisher a bundle of subsidiary rights, including the development rights. No matter what type of entity you’re working with in the publishing or book adaptation process, it’s always a good idea to consult a knowledgeable attorney when contracts are involved.

The book-to-screen adaptation process can be complicated.How Does the Book-to-Screen Adaptation Process Work?

The book adaptation process can be LONG and complicated, but typically begins with an “option agreement”. An option agreement is where an author gives a producer, production company, screenwriter, agency, or other party the exclusive, temporary rights to try and get the book developed for the screen. This includes network or cable channels, streaming platforms, or movies. In exchange for these rights, the author receives compensation, typically in the range of $500 to a few thousand dollars for lesser known authors and books. Most option periods are for 12 to 18 months and can be renewed or extended.

An option agreement does not guarantee your book will be developed for the screen; it only means your story is being pitched to studios, networks, distributors, and financial backers for a set period of time, to see if it can garner interest. If a producer or other party does decide to purchase the rights to the material and develop it for the screen, the agreement will include a purchase price. This is the amount the author is paid once the show or movie is greenlit, and is typically a percentage of the project’s total budget.

How Do I Get My Book Noticed by Hollywood Decision-Makers?

Know what Hollywood is looking for and make sure your book has it
– Hollywood has been adapting content for the screen for decades, and the key players know what it takes to make a book appealing in an episodic or feature film format. There are specific elements they look for in a story, whether fictionalized or true. In the recorded webinar, “What Hollywood Is Looking For In A Good Book to Make Into A Movie” ALC President Keith Ogorek shares 7 things that are critical to a story being considered for adaptation to the screen. If any of these elements are missing from your story, it’s time for a rewrite before moving on to the next step.

Put together a compelling pitch package
– Once you are confident your story meets Hollywood expectations, you can put together a pitch package. Similar to a proposal package for a book, a pitch package can include a logline, story summary, a 3-act structure overview with major story beats, details on the main characters, a cast list of actors you’d want to see in the major roles, visuals, and more. You can elevate your pitch by gaining the interest of a known screenwriter, producer, or actor and attaching them to the project.

Platforms such as Story Rocket can help you create a professional pitch package and potentially connect you with decision-makers in Hollywood. You can choose the “Explore” option on this website and see examples of pitch packages by genre, material type, intended medium, and story era.

Companies such as Fuzeframe actively seek out books to option from self-published and independently published authors. They create dynamic pitch packages for the titles they option and work to garner interest from screenwriters, producers, actors, and others.

Work with an agent or manager with industry connections
– A good representative that is well-networked in Hollywood can help get your pitch package into the hands of the right people. You can find directories of agents and managers online.

Attend Hollywood networking events
– Look for ways to get your work in front of agents and producers by attending in-person events that allow you to pitch your story to these decision-makers. Author Solutions, the largest supported self-publishing company, offers events such as PitchFest, where authors learn to refine their pitches and are given the opportunity to present to film and television representatives.

Few authors have the skills and knowledge to write a quality screenplay.Should I Adapt My Book into a Screenplay?

Adapting a book into a screenplay usually takes place further along in the book-to-screen process; typically, AFTER your story idea has generated some interest in Hollywood. Screenwriters may want to attach themselves to a buzz-worthy pitch, or, the party that agrees to purchase the rights and pursue development will hire a screenwriter.

If you are considering adapting your book manuscript into a screenplay on your own, there are three options: do it yourself, hire a consultant or mentor to help you, or hire someone else to adapt it for you. These three options differ greatly in the amount of time and money you’ll need to invest, along with the quality of the final outcome. It’s important to remember that a book manuscript and a screenplay are two very different mediums. Few authors have the skills and knowledge required to write a dynamic screenplay that meets Hollywood expectations.

If your screenplay is written and ready to be shared, you can use platforms like The Black List or TaleFlick to get your project in front of industry members like agents, managers, and producers.

A Word of Caution

Because Hollywood is actively looking for great stories, there is an increase in scammers trying to take advantage of authors, with promises to get their books to the screen. Don’t let them fool you. To better arm yourself to identify a scam versus a legitimate opportunity, we recommend reviewing ALC President Keith Ogorek’s recorded webinar on “How to Recognize a Publishing Scam and Avoid It”.

A book can be optioned at any point in the publishing process, even before it’s released! However, before you get too far ahead and focus solely on the end goal, remember that your number one job is to write a fantastic story. If your book creates a buzz or reaches bestseller status on Amazon, it’s much more likely to be noticed by key players in the publishing and entertainment industries!

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