Screenwrite My Book

I got this email today. I’ve edited out the title of his book to protect his identity:

Hello Lee!

Would you be available to screenwrite a book that I had
written and published in Australia.  Title: XYZ. This is a true story based on my work with
the Australian Federal Police, Computer Crime. I’ll be honest, I have
no idea what is involved, especially from script to production. 

He certainly doesn’t.  You have to wonder why people don’t even bother to do a minimal amount of research before sending out emails like this. They simply don’t want to invest the effort, as slight as it may be, and instead hope someone else will do it for them. 

"Screenwriting" a book, as you call it,  is a complicated process with many variables. No two paths to feature film adaptation are necessarily the same.

But for starters, let’s look at your email.

First, I would have done some research on the person I’m sending the email to. I would have started the note with something that reflects my knowledge and appreciation of his work and why I think that he, in particular, would respond to the book. 

Then I would have enthusiastically pitched the book as something exciting and packed with screen potential that the person might be interested in reading with an eye towards developing as a movie or TV show. 

You haven’t done any of that.

All you’ve given me is the title. You’ve made no attempt to actually spark my interest. You haven’t told me anything about your book, what makes it special, or even why I should want to read it. What’s the story? Who are the characters? Did the book get good reviews? Did it sell well? Why would I, an American TV producer, be interested in a book about Australian computer crime?  (I’m also not clear, from the way you worded your note, whether you  actually wrote the book or hired someone else to do it and whether the book was published or you paid to have it published yourself.  Were you the investigating officer, the victim, a consultant, or the criminal who was written about?)

The first  steps towards getting someone to adapt your book is to research who you want to approach and then do a much better job selling the book as something with theatrical potential.

Leave a Comment