Does anyone have a TV series based on their work?
I'm wondering how this works. There have been a few mutterings about how my main character is crying out to made into a TV series but I want to know what would be the best way to do this.
My understanding is that if I sell an option I get a small amount of cash and then I have no say in the rest. Indeed it may never be made.
Is that right?
HB x

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I don't know how it's done in the UK, but in Hollywood, as I understand it, producers, cable networks, and screenwriters option the work and many times the option is pretty low unless you are a bestselling author (especially in these lean times). Sometimes a screenwriter creates a spec script to attract an actor -- an actor attachment is apparently key in selling a series. The book writer could or could not have an opportunity to write a pilot, but screenwriting is very different than book writing. Most of us are probably not up to the task. And in most cases, the financing falls through, studios/networks aren't interested, etc. and nothing really results (hence "development hell").

Writers who have worked in the business have told to me to "take the money and run" if any options come through. It is interesting that both Sue Grafton and Robert Crais, who have worked in Hollywood, have little interest in taking their characters to either the little or big screen. (Some special insight, perhaps?)

Luck does fall on certain writers and books, such as the Dexter series. So you never know. But I think it's better if reputable producers/writers seek you out than the other way around. They need to have a great passion for your work to see it through. TV and film scouts usually see books in early stages in galley form. Your literary agent should have those contacts. I think the best thing we can do as book writers is produce the best book possible.

If you are interested in TV series development, read blogs and interviews with Lee Goldberg and Paul Guyot.
One other thing to remember if the tv/film guys come knocking...make sure in the contract that you retain the rights to your character. Otherwise (since we're indulging in fabulous fantasy), you could end up losing out on some big bucks if the show/film takes off. And yeah, just because a book has been optioned doesn't mean it'll actually survive the process to getting to the small or big screen. Most of 'em don't.
Retaining your rights in any field is always a wise idea. My late husband, a musician (among other occupations) had early in his career written a pop music piece including the lyrics. Even after we were married, he would occasionally receive a small amount of money as he held the performance rights. One of the reasons that I live on such a beautiful ten acres is that we bought the land. That said, I was one thing that he could not fully control. :-) However, we respected each other, and often our viewpoints were vastly different. We both felt from our different philosphies came new knowledge. There were times that we agreed to disagree. In any kind of relationship differences can add spice--true in marriage, true in business. My nearly 35 years with Jolly were never dull. He also taught me that getting competent legal advice before entering into any kind of contract was worth the extra money. We had no pre-nuptual agreement--in 1972 when we married people were not so suit happy as now. I also feel that being passionate about your work is key to success.
Thanks for this - it's what I suspected.
HB x
Helen,
the best thing to do if you are interested in selling to TV or film, is to acquire an agent who specializes in promoting books to producers. If a producer is interested then they will offer an option of probably one year or so for a fee. During that time you cannot offer it to anyone else. At the end of the period the producer, if he has not gained any interest, will let the option drop which means that you can then put it out into the market place again. If on the other hand, he has interest he may wish to either extend the option or make an offer to buy it. Your agent would be able to advise you as to what you can and can't retain. Good luck if you decide to go this way.
Cheers,
Brian

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