What a great question! Here at 3rd Coast Books, we are expanding our relationships with Hollywood and Indie TV/Film Producers and have placed several of our Authors’ books.
There are several areas of film/tv and book publishing industry experience that I will share in this blog post.
First, we all need to realize that there are several different types of Film/Movie/TV producers out there, who specialize in many varying types of audiovisual projects and have access to a wide range of production funding and hence are looking for distinct types of literary works. So let’s breakdown the major categories of audiovisual projects, starting with TV Documentaries, which are that can either be scripted or unscripted:
Unscripted Documentaries are often shot in realtime without any rehearsal using everyday people and explore contemporary issues. Therefore it is highly unlikely that an author would be able to sell books rights that would result in the production of an unscripted film.
Scripted Documentaries present a better opportunity and it is possible for books that comment on social and political issues might be of interest to a producer. This genre includes Mockumentaries and satirical reviews of modern life.
The next major category is the TV or Cable channel series:
Producers are always looking for new ideas, great stories and strong characters to build a series around. If the pilot run for the series is successful the author might be asked to contribute further material for additional episodes. This can be an incredibly lucrative outcome for the Author if engaged to write further material for a multi-session program.
Another category is the TV or Cable Miniseries. Having your book adapted into a miniseries would represent a major breakthrough for many an author. Dramatic works are particularly attractive to TV producers and based on the success of the first production further works could be optioned for subsequent development.
The final category would be Feature Films or Movies. Yes, the bigtime! I think you will all agree. We all know what those are when we go out to the movies or watch them on Netflix, HBO, and Showtime, etc. plus all those reruns of TV. This we believe is what most authors dream of, seeing their book brought to life on the silver screen. Some distributors like Netflix will internally fund the production of films for the producers if they are interested in the material. Other films are produced by Indie producers often on limited budgets but these opportunities should not be overlooked. Of course, many films are funded using traditional Hollywood methods with investors putting up the money for a film for a return on the profits generated. This channel provides the highest financial reward for authors but is also the hardest to break into. Without existing connections or working with a film agent or publisher with such connections the chances of getting into this exclusive club are very small indeed.
So How Do I Prepare my Books?
When searching for potential producers to make a Film/TV feature or documentary on your book, it is important to know the genre of your book. For instance, if you have a family-type book, clean (no sex scenes or language) you may want to look for a producer that does work for Hallmark channel or one the Christian filmmakers. You can see most producers’ films, movies, and documentaries at IMDb.com (Internet Movie Database). Check them out closely! Some IMDb pages have contact information for the producers. Start building a list!
If you are an author and not a screenwriter, your best bet is to do a Screen Treatment for your book. Screen Treatments are about 7-8 pages in length listing the following: Contact Information, Registration at WGAW, etc. with registration numbers, a Logline, Reader Comments, Protagonist/Antagonist profiles, locations for the scenes, then a short synopsis about what the book is about. The next point is VERY IMPORTANT!
Tell your story in short form in this manner: Act 1: The Set-Up. Act 2: The Conflict. Act 3: The Conclusion. Three acts (no more) to tell producers in short form what the story is about and how the actors interact. You can see examples by going to www.3rdCoastBooks.com and clicking on ‘Screen Treatments’. Your Screen Treatment should also include your author headshot, biography, and a picture of your book cover along with links to Amazon and/or other retail sites.
After you identify those producers you think may be interested in your book, contact them by email, tell them very briefly about your book and attach the screen treatment to the email. After this, you wait to get responses. It is okay to send emails to multiple producers. If they are interested, believe me, they will respond. “Break a Leg!”