This month’s question comes from Roman Godzich, author of the compelling sci-fi political thriller No Higher Ground.
Roman: “Readers are telling me that they can see my science fiction thriller as a TV series. What are the five first steps I should do in order to get my book in front of folks who might be interested in pursuing that path?”
Nina: Current high levels of production in the industry have earned this era of television the neologism “peak TV.” With so many shows being produced, there are presumably more opportunities than ever for novels to be optioned for development. But one has to be smart, particularly if not represented by an agent that handles book-to-film/TV sales.
1. The best way to get Hollywood sniffing about an adaptation is proven success. Promote your book and demonstrate that it has an audience. Engage with fans on Goodreads, Facebook and other social media platforms. The best and most relatable stories address universal truths; identify the universal truths in your work and generate discussion around those themes.
2. Identify the demographic breakdown of your audience and study the network, cable and streaming providers of content in order to identify who might be a potential buyer. The beauty of peak TV is that programming in television can play to niche audiences, as opposed to the swing-for-the-fences, four-quadrant home runs for which studio films tend to aim. A “four-quadrant” movie appeals to the major four demographic sections of an audience: males 18-25, females 18-25, males over 25 and females over 25. So a little research can help you target companies where your work might have a real shot.
3. Think not just about your story, but how to sell your story. Why do you think your work should be adapted? How would you market it? Know your “log line” (a one sentence description of the project) and your “tag line” (the copy you’d put on a poster to promote the show). Identify shows that are similar to yours in a positive way and be prepared to discuss distinctions from shows on the air to which your work might be compared.
4. Next, figure out your access. If an agent represents you, they can make some introductions for you. Most buyers will not accept unsolicited or unrepresented work, but those rules change if a friend can make an introduction so network like mad! Rely on your contacts (including your fan base!) and don’t be afraid to ask! It’s amazing how often someone knows someone. Or if you’ve done your homework about potential buyers, a well-crafted letter pitching your work just might pique enough interest to get a submission request.
5. Be bold.
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Hollywood Decoded is where I answer your questions based on my 20 years of writing and producing in film and television. My answers will be included in my monthly newsletter and on my blog.