The Mail I Get – Advice Edition

Here are some recent queries I’ve received lately asking for my advice…

A number of readers have suggested my XYZ series of books would be a great springboard for a TV series. I’m not so sure of that, but it has occurred to me that my new release (XYZ) might be a good candidate for a movie, given the characters and setting. […] If you have the time and inclination, any advice about who to contact or where to promote it to producers would be appreciated. If not, best of luck with Brash (not that you need it!).

Unless your book is a NY Times bestseller, with a large following, and huge critical acclaim, your chance of selling it as a movie or TV series is nil. I say this from experience… and having worked on several TV series based on books (Spenser For Hire, Murphy’s Law, Nero Wolfe, Missing, etc) and having adapted many others (Aimee & David Thurlo’s Ella Clah, Mary Higgins Clark’s The Lottery Winners, William Kent Krueger’s Iron Lake, etc) for studios for film and TV that didn’t get made. Those books were all hugely successful. It took 20 years for Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum to become a movie…over a decade for Lee Child’s Reacher books to become a movie…and they are among the biggest selling, most well-known authors on planet earth.

No offense, but your series is obscure, self-published, reviewed by little-known media outlets (The Kindle Book Review, Story Circle Review, etc) and blurbed by authors nobody has ever heard of (XYZ? His highest ranked book is #1,403,740 on Amazon…his worst #12,649,676. Why on earth would you tout his review?).

I don’t say this to hurt you feelings, or to be a jerk, or to kill your dreams, I am just trying to be honest with you about your chances of selling your books as a movie or TV series. Bottom line… you need to be realistic in your expectations. 🙂

Hi Mr. Goldberg,
Some film school student in L.A. just asked me if my XYZ detective series has been optioned yet. I get the general gist of that sort of stuff, but is that something a) to take seriously, given that he’s only tangentially in the biz or b) that would warrant getting an agent? Any quick advice or links to advice,

I don’t see any upside in optioning anything to a film student. What would be the point of that? I wouldn’t take it seriously. There are thousands of film students out there, most of whom will never make it in the business.

If he wants to shoot a student film based on your book, and you like the idea of that, then let him do it without optioning it to him. Just write up a document that says you’re okay with it as long as it’s never used / sold for profit (tickets, DVD sales, etc), not distributed to theaters, not shown on television, and that it’s clear he has no rights whatsoever beyond using it as a non-profit, project as a demonstration of his skills.

2 thoughts on “The Mail I Get – Advice Edition”

  1. Damn, there was hope of making a movie of William Kent Krueger’s Iron Lake? I love that series. It would have made a great movie. Damn.


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