Looking for the Short Cut

I got this email today:

Hello Lee,
               My name is Mark Coulter, pen name M.W.C. Coulter. I recently
wrote a book and got it published through "Publish America". I have been on one
book signing and have two others upcoming. The book is called "The Folding of
Time", about two astronauts on a first deep space mission, they encounter an
anomaly, wormhole, that takes them on a journey through time and alternate
universes.I would like some advice of how to contact studios’ on making this into a
series or movie. Can you give me some advice on how to do this?

First off, you never should have gone to PublishAmerica. You were looking for a short cut and this one leads to a dead end as you’ve undoubtedly discovered. You could contact various studios and production companies, ask for the names and addresses of their development executives, and send them your book.  Ordinarily, you’d have a one-in-a-million shot of selling the movie or TV rights. But since it’s a self-published, POD book, your odds against  interesting any studio in it have probably become one-in-a-billion.  I don’t know if your book is good or bad, but unfortunately, no one in Hollywood is going to take PublishAmerica title (or any vanity press publication)  seriously. 

On the other hand, if you can sell 10,000 copies, get some great reviews from respected publications, and get a bunch of newspapers and magazines to write profiles about you, that could change. That’s what happened with ERAGON... and the movie is in production now (of course, ERAGON wasn’t a PublishAmerca, iUniverse, or xlibris POD title, either).

UPDATE (10-12-05): I got this reply. My reply follows.

Well how about if I write another manuscript, on a movie idea not associated with the
book, and send it in raw and unpublished? Would I stand a better chance of
getting a read?

Nope.  Studios buy hot novels (ie bestselling and well reviewed) and
they buy scripts. They buy pitches, but only from established screenwriters
which, I assume, you are not. So, if I were you, I’d write a script. Even then,
though, you need an agent to submit it to the studios on your behalf.  They certainly aren’t going to read a raw, unpublished manuscript from an unknown writer…at least not without a powerful agent, producer, director or actor attached to it.

6 thoughts on “Looking for the Short Cut”

  1. ERAGON is probably a bad example, as it was initially self-published and Knopf picked it up afterward.
    Your point, though, remains valid. It wouldn’t have much chance of being sold as a movie if Knopf hadn’t published it.

  2. Perhaps it’s not too late for Mr. Coulter to consider a career as an astronaut. His chances would rate about the same as getting published or produced, and his credentials sound about the same for writing as for a deep space mission.

  3. Lawrence Block has a self-published book that does very well for him — it is, of course, a “HOW TO…” book. In the world of self-publishing, HOW TO books, sold at your seminars or personal appearances, can be a wise investment. At least Larry is pleased. I’m thinking of a self-publshed book entitled “HOW TO NOT SELF-PUBLISH,” and have seminars for “pre-published” authors charging them a king’s ransom for my wise advice on how not to spend their money on seminars for pre-publihsed authors. Has anyone done this already? I’m sure I could be every bit as successful as Publish America, and have a similar reputation.
    Burl Barer
    Publsihed, Paid, and Proud of it.


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