How NOT to Sell Your Book to Television

I got this unsolicited email today:

I have published a book and am interested in selling the television rights. I will send you a copy upon request, but you can go to and see a synopsis and excerpts from sample chapters. The book is titled "Six Days of the Pigs" and I wrote it under the pen name R.J. Carrie-Reddington. In retrospect, it was probably a mistake to publish it under a pen name, but if you are interested, I can explain my reasons for doing so. Thanks for your attention. If you are interested in representing me, please advise.

How’s that for salesmanship? After reading that compelling pitch, is it any wonder this book was self-published? Ordinarily, I would have deleted the message and moved on… but I’m writing under an insane deadline, so any opportunity for procrastination is, of course, welcome. And I haven’t posted anything on my blog in a while. So I checked out the site. Here’s how R.J. Carrie-Reddington describes his novel:

A story about the people of Eastern North Carolina, awash with hogs, and the men, women and children caught in a mixture of loving and fighting between the love of good living and the love of money. The story is about how powerful politicians and bureaucrats are pitted against citizens who want to live a life of quality. It tells about six days of fast-moving events which are the culmination of simmering happenings of romance, illicit sex and violence that leads to murder. The six days end with a horrific tale of fire and mass destruction, and teaches a lesson. The plot was set in a real time of events. The story depicts the interaction between power and money seekers and those average folks who kept functioning routinely each day…

I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book where "the plot was set in a real time of events." So I gave the first chapter a peek…and didn’t get past the powerful first line:

Midway between dawn and sunrise the Tuesday morning air, heavy with nature’s fog, reeked with the acrid odor of pig feces as the skinny white man stood at the edge of the front porch, listening to Addie cry.

Now I know why he approached me. I’m a skinny white man and I wrote for "The Highwayman." If anyone can make television that reeks of the acrid odor of pig feces, it’s me!

6 thoughts on “How NOT to Sell Your Book to Television”

  1. Well, Lee, with an opening line like that, it’s a license to print money. Just make sure you cast a pig that will viewers the purity of its soul.
    And watch out for hog slash fic.

  2. Halfway between dawn and sunrise? How the hell can you be halfway between dawn and sunrise? Isn’t that like being halfway between twelve o’clock and noon?

  3. please, Lee!!! i’ve heard much worst pitches. i was just taking a little break from homework club. then, some girl w/a laptop says: i’m a writer: i need a laptop. Here’s my autobiography. a, b, c, d, and e are watching a movie together saturday afternoon. (grammatical error) a says: blah blah blah. b says: blah blah. c says: blah bla d says: blah bhhahaha e throws popcorn. we all throw popcorn at each other. we laughed the entire saturday afternoon. see, isn’t that interesting? —it sounds like any typical high school conversation. I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.


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