Dream Big: Movie and Television for Indie Authors

An adapted and unedited chapter from my upcoming SkipJack Publishing book (release date August 15, 2013) What kind of loser indie publishes, and how can I be one too?

Most of us writer types not only dream of seeing our books in print, but also seeing their names in lights. TV lights. Movie lights. Spin-off-product billboard lights. We dream of the actors who will play our main characters, and we can spend hours casting and recasting the parts. Frankly, Jennifer Aniston is getting a little old to play my Katie, but dang, she’s perfect.

In fact, we know that the most successful writers make most of their money in this space. Their numbers are few, but their returns are huge.

Screenplay adaptations

From what I hear from my peeps in the trenches, you’ll have as much or more trouble selling your book as a screenplay as you do, well, selling your book. My advice is to focus on book sales and visibility for yourself and your book. Then write another. And another. Make each one better than the last, and more visible. If you do a great job at these things, you’ll have something to approach a film agent about.

Film options

Or a production company may approach you with a magic word: OPTION. As in “May I please option your magnificent book for thousands of dollars for a year or two?” An option ties your book up while the production company decides whether to exercise the option, meaning whether they will develop the project. Most optioned books don’t go into development. Some books get optioned, then re-optioned, then re-re-optioned.  I haven’t been this lucky (yet). But bear in mind some good advice from Lisa Grace (author of Angel in the Shadows and many others) on J.A. Konrath’s blog: Consider smaller production companies that may be likelier to exercise your option, get an entertainment lawyer to negotiate your contract, and negotiate the best option fee up front that you can, but don’t rule out back-end monies, in case it does get developed. Don’t take it from me, though, go straight to the source (http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2013/07/guest-post-by-lisa-grace.html).

Haven’t gotten a call to option your book yet? Well, it’s never a waste to work all your contacts. Stranger things have happened, and it doesn’t hurt to dream.


Pamela Fagan Hutchins is an employment attorney and workplace investigator by day who writes award-winning and bestselling mysterious women’s fiction (Saving Grace) and humorous nonfiction (How to Screw Up Your Kids) by night. She is passionate about great writing and smart author-preneurship. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start.