I am pitching my novels at the Willamette Writers Conference this year, but maybe not to the people you expect. I am pitching to literary agents and editors, of course, but I’m also pitching many projects to film reps. That’s right. Film people. Movie makers. Television producers. I’m pitching my novels to them.
Am I crazy?
I am not. I own the film rights to my two published works (ask me how that happened someday), and all the rights to my unpublished novels. Good stories are interesting to people who sell stories, and that includes book-makers and people who buy for the screen.
Remember, many movies are adaptations of novels or even short stories. For example, Stand By Me is an adaptation of “The Body,” a short story by Stephen King. Wild the movie was a novel by Cheryl Strayed first. Her story was made into a book, which then got the attention of Hollywood, but while that is a traditional method to break in, it is not the only way stories for films are found.
“But, don’t I have to write a script before I pitch to a film or TV rep?” you may ask.
Not necessarily. Producers often buy “options” to books. Think of options as a hold on your book, like a deposit, that means that you can’t sell the story to any other producer for a set amount of time. If they act on it, they may ask you to write a screenplay, or they may pay someone else to write it, instead. You, the originator of the story, get paid either way.
And this is not my idle speculation. Grace Ledding, a film representative at this year’s Willamette Writers conference, made this comment: “The last time I attended [the Willamette Writers Conference], I was able to sell a book I found there to Disney TV. Excited for new opportunities this year!” Marvin Baker, another Willamette Writer, sold options to two pieces as a result of pitching them at the Willamette Writers Conference. One was a short story and the other was a novel. Both were unpublished.
My advice: Don’t ignore film reps just because you don’t have a screenplay. If you have a great story that you know would look awesome on screen, go check out the film reps at the Willamette Writers Conference (click the Film & TV tab). Maybe one of them is looking to tell your story.