With the successful adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s WILD, many authors are imaging their books on the big screen. What writer hasn’t cast a movie star into their leading role or heard the perfect song for their opening credits? I certainly have. (Matt Damon, Coyote Winds is ready for your review anytime!)
I suspect many independently published book could be transformed into powerful, money-making films, if only they made it into the hands of the right people.
But a word of warning: there are companies out there ready to prey upon your Hollywood dreams and sell you expensive book-to-screen packages with no realistic chance of success.
In particular, I am talking about the Author Solutions (AS) companies (again): AuthorHouse, IUniverse, Xlibris, Balboa, Trafford, and WestBow Press and their book-to-screen packages. Although their prices vary depending on the marketing niche of each company, the packages are nearly identical. And expensive.
For a mere $799 (Xlibris) to $999 (WestBow and Balboa), they will prepare a synopsis and analysis of how your book might be adapted for the screen. They give Thruline Entertainment, a “leading Hollywood management and production company” a first look, and if Thruline passes, then your book is entered into AS’s Hollywood Database.
For a mere $3,499 (Xlibris) to $4,199 (WestBow and Balboa), they will prepare a more detailed outline of how your book would be adapted, commonly called a “treatment.” Again, the treatment is run past Thruline, and if they do not pick it up, it goes into AS’s Hollywood Database.
And for $14,999 (Xlibris) to $17,999 (WestBow and Balboa), you get an entire screenplay. But wait! In order to purchase the screenplay, you must buy the treatment as well, so the total price will easily top $20,000. Again Thruline gets a first look, then the screenplay is entered into the Hollywood Database.
I have read that if you inquire about these packages, the prices come way down provided you sign up immediately. It’s a buy it now cause I can’t make this offer tomorrow kind of pitch. One writer described it as the most expensive rejection letter she every received.
And what is this Hollywood Database? As of August 2012, AS claimed it had “more than 120 entertainment professionals registered on the site.” To me, 120 doesn’t sound like something to brag about. Alexa had no ranking for the website. None. And Alexa listed only four links to the Database, two of which were AS sites.
So the question is…after all the thousands of dollars writers have paid for their synopses, treatments and scripts, does anyone look at AS’s Hollywood Database?
Interestingly, you and I can’t. It’s open only to “entertainment executives from a studio, production company, agency or management companies.” They have to register and be granted access.
If you want to try to get your book on the big screen, there are better ways.
First, you can do it yourself. You know and care about your book more than anyone else. Study up on how to write treatments and screenplays, and do it yourself. There are as many books on how to write screenplays as there are on writing novels. (I have had Blake Snyder’s Save The Cat sitting on my desk for a while, still unread.) And there are classes and courses offered all over the internet.
Focus on developing a knock-out treatment. I am not an expert on the movie business, but I’ve heard that a good treatment is key. If you can get a producer’s attention with a treatment, the screenplay can come later. And realistically, they will hire a professional screenwriter for that, not an indie author.
Consider hiring a freelancer. Elance.com, freelancer.com, and other sites list hundreds of professional screenwriters. You can read reviews of their work, ask for a consult, and perhaps get a sample. You could also contact film schools and see if a promising student would be interested in the project. Not only would you get a better work product at a lower price, you’ll be working directly with a professional. You’ll be able to provide input and learn the process yourself.
Be realistic. Every year hundreds of thousands of books are published, but only a few hundred movies are made. The chances of an independently published book being made into a movie are incredibly small. If a business of long shots, this is a multi-million mile one.
The best way to improve those chances is to write a great book and get it into the hands of as many readers as possible. Instead of chasing the Hollywood dream by spending thousands on a treatment or spec screenplay, spend your money on editing, designing, producing and selling the best book possible.
Then let Hollywood chase you.
Do you know anyone who bought one of these book-to-screen packages? I’d love to hear about their experience.SHARE THIS
As the writer who calls this the “most expensive rejection letter she ever received,” I definitely agree with everything you say here, especially this:
“First, you can do it yourself. You know and care about your book more than anyone else. Study up on how to write treatments and screenplays, and do it yourself.”
The expensive Hollywood treatment I purchased did not have the “knock-out” quality you mention. In fact, it had errors regarding plot (like no one acuatally read the book) that I had to correct before approval.
I’m just glad I did not also purchase other marketing packages my publisher offered, as I have since read very informative “how to” blogs like yours and like this one on how to create your own book trailer, for example: http://kingdomelectlady.hubpages.com/hub/Create-Your-Own-Book-Trailer-Free
Thanks for helping Indie authors become more business savvy. After all, writing is a business, even if most of us have to conduct this business in the wee hours of the morning, swilling down coffee before we go to work at our day jobs.
Ellis, Thank you for sharing your story. Hearing that the treatment was full of errors really gets my hackles up. At that price, you would think they could do a professional job at the very least!
Working together we can help other writers pursue their dreams without making too many mistakes.
Finally an answer in black and white! Thank you. You are also right about the ‘Buy it today – an offer too good to miss – and only available until today….’opening line. I have had to endure a week long phone relay race which I finally completed by stumbling over the finish line exhausted and angry. I hung up. Only to be called again. So I hung up again. The ‘marketing manager’ for my book in Authorhouse could not understand the word NO when I told him that I did not have the money to pursue the goal of making it to the big screen. So today a get an email in which I am told to regret my decision … since 8 wonderful stories are now in the hands of Thruline. I have done some checking – it appears that Thruline no longer exists. Oh may I be cautious next time too!
Thanks. I was doing a bit of research before signing on to the iUniverse Thruline “deal.” Just saved a bunch of hassle and hard-earned cash.
Well I feel foolish. Reluctantly pd for Hollywood Coverage, at which time I was told it would take Archway up to 6 weeks to complete the character profiles and main cinematic quality pitch before it went into the first look database. That was around Easter.
This service was supposed to give authors maximum exposure to agents and actors looking for smthg new. I’ve been networking on my own with better results.
I’m going to hang in there as my MA at Archway hasn’t steered me wrong yet. He’s also reminded me a few times that it’s a marathon, not a race.
I wouldn’t spend your life savings have on any one venture, but accept that we do have to invest in our work. Treat it like a business and keep at it.
AS needs authors as much as we need a reputable publishing house.
Maria, My dealings with AS have not been positive. Before you spend a lot of money on any Hollywood package, ask to speak to some authors who have had success using AS to obtain a movie option, or even interest. I think you would be better off working directly with freelance film writers.
Anyone know anything about a company named Dream books Distribution LLC? They are offering to put my book with the Hollywood Database for a rather large fee. Their scout saw it at the Combined Book Exhibit show in NY and they think it is movie material.
I have never heard of them, but I would be very skeptical. Ask to talk to writers who’ve they have successfully placed.
Have you heard of Renley Rudolf? He has sent me an email inviting me to be interviewed by Al Cole of CBS radio, about my book. It states that I will only have to pay air time fees.
If you have to pay anything, it’s not legit.
Sherry T Cason have you received a reply to your question. We have been contacted in the same way by Renley
If you pay anything, it’s not legitimate news or commentary. I would be skeptical.
I keep getting emails from onlinebookclub.org. They want me to submit a PDF file of my book for their review. I haven’t had anyone “ask” to review it before. I have asked to have it reviewed by others. Do you think these people have something else in mind once they have my book? Have you ever heard of them?
Sherry, Sorry, I don’t know anything about that site. Do some research online and in writing communities and ask if anyone has dealt with them.
Thank you Helen for your professional insight on the subject of scam companies wanting to turn a book into a movie production.
I have been contacted by Glass Link Solutions stating they were impressed with my autobiography and wanted to present it to the studios.
Do you know anything about this company?
Achille, Sorry but I do not know anything about them. From their website, it looks like they sell services to authors, not act as an agent or scout for studios. I suggest you be careful about getting yourself committed to high fees and ask for references before you spend any significant money with them.
Achille, I’m not sure if I’ve reached you in time, but they are definitely a company to avoid. While not personally, I do know a family member who has been scammed, along the lines of what Author Solutions does (google them, too..).
Perhaps they provide legitimate services, but as Helen mentions, ask for references and do not send them money up front.
I just opened an email from glasslink solutions, myself. They named my book and said my book had been recommended for cinematic evaluation. Sounds fancy. I originally published with Xlibris, unfortunately, and input a lot of savings to the “project”, as they called it, for marketing and a Hollywood treatment, with very little outcome. I ended up retiring the book in 2016, as I want to republish with someone more reputable. I am so wary of being taken for a ride again that I haven’t done anything. I just wish I knew how to spot the fraudsters, and find a legitimate company to work with. Ideally, I’d like to work with an agent and try traditional publishing. Of course, I recognise the old spiel in this email, so I’m not going to fall into the trap by even responding to it. They are experts at stroking your ego and manipulating your desire to be successful, once they have your ear.
I actually DID get a movie deal. A television movie “The Rooftop Christmas Tree” that is shown globally. I didn’t pay anyone to pitch it, but did get an agent who took a small commission. It IS possible. My book is self-published and that means I get 100% royalties and I own it 100%.m No one had to sign off on the movie deal.
As a former investment banker, I am big on owning your stuff. I know so many authors who sign over their rights only to have a publishing company sit on it, no marketing, and not much effort. Now days with the internet and many ways to publish, I highly recommend the self-effort.
Landria, Congratulations! That’s a great story.
Who did you get the book deal with?
How do I find an agent to promote and market my book, “My Fall Through Time?”
Is there a list of names on the internet ?
Thank you –
Agnes Clare Ventura
There are lists all over the interest and forums which discuss this. Try doing a google search and you’ll find hundreds. Attending writers conferences is one of the best ways to meet agents. Also look for a writers group in your area. Meeting other writers in person or on Zoom is another great resource.
My Book been in Book Stores two weeks now. Xlibris were my Publisher company. I have and awesome Story. I spent four years writing my Book, It’s been nightmare dealing with Xlibris they didn’t print my Book correct.
I’m using another company to print my , Books.
Glasslink continues to call promising that Hollywood producers are interested in turning my children’s book into a cartoon. They are asking for $3,000. I am very skeptical, especially since I’m told that ” time is running out.”
They want you to pay them? Bad sign. I would stay away.
Writers Beware lists them as a scam. https://accrispin.blogspot.com/2019/08/from-philippines-not-with-love-plague.html
Thank goodness I have read these comments. I received an email stating my book has been reviewed and endorsed for its cinematic potential, with the probability of being adapted for film/TV. Yes I was excited to get the email from Jade at Glass link Solutions. She wanted to call me on the phone. They are a Harper media partners. My Microsoft office packed up so I had to try and use Gmail. I am aware of these scams as I also used Nightingale Press for my first book. They did nothing. Then Xlibris republished my first book and the two other of the trilogy and nothing happened except they asked to publish more of my books. I feel such a fool.
Darryl, So sorry to hear. These companies use high pressure sales techniques. They pull in a lot of people.
Thanks a Million!
I ve been there and lost some money.
Once again thank you so much! This was a wake up call!
So sorry to hear. Feel free to share more of your story. It could help other writers.