Optioning a novel



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  • Optioning a novel

    Has anyone here tried to do this for adaptation into a screenplay? If so, did you write a letter to the author, author's agent, or publisher of the novel?


  • #2
    I contacted the daughter of a deceased other seeking to option a non-fiction book that he had written.

    She politely declined, stating that her father had promised the participants involved that he would never option the material for film.

    Would have made an amazing film.


    • #3
      I did this...

      I contacted the writer directly, at his home. He was wonderful, welcoming and have been working with him for two years now on the project - which has led to others.

      Did the same thing with a play - contacted the writer via the university he taught at in England. Talked on the phone, met him in person, got the option.

      My recommendation is that if you can get in touch with the author in some way that you should. Agents care about $$, which is their job. Authors care about $$, but they also care about the art.

      I'm sure there are people here with more experience than me who will have other opinions - only speaking of my own experiences to date.

      Good luck!


      • #4
        I did this too...

        You may find that the material has already been spoken for, or that the author/agent/publisher has unrealistic expectations, the moment the magic words "movie rights" are mentioned.

        I've had two good and bad experience. The latter was when I asked for the rights to a Sci-Fi novella, that had a great premise for a film - the author wanted a fortune, and I let it go, as I knew it would be very uncertain whether the film would ever get made, it was a gamble (isn't it always?), and I didn't want to put that much of my own money into it before there was a script.

        The other two instances were great. The publisher of one author was also acting as his manager, and he got in touch with the author, set up a meeting, and I got the rights, for scale.
        The other instance was even better - the author loved the fact that I wanted to make a TV-series out of his book, and let me have the rights for free.

        There's a mountain of material out there that's not been spoken for - and maybe you're the one who sees the unique angle the material possesses, and that can make it happen.

        Don't promise the moon. Explain where you're from, what you want to do and what an uphill struggle it is to get anything green lit in our business. But be enthusiastic about why you want that particular property. Don't go into specifics about how you are going to do it or write it - as the author is bound to have very set opinions of his own, and may react negatively upon hearing your suggestions.

        Discuss whether the author will want to approve the final script. (That may become and issue if you get the material on the cheap.) If you follow a "standard" contract, then the author relinquishes control over the movie content upon the property being transferred to you.
        You'll also have to discuss how long you want the rights, and what, specifically, happens if a producer picks up the project.

        Good luck!


        • #5
          Optioning a novel

          Hey ya'll - thanks for the great ideas!