Someone called the other day and asked, “If I’ve self-published my book and want you to consider it for representation, should I even bother sending it? Or am I toast?”
I answered, “It depends.” [For you regular readers, do you think that should become the motto of the Agency?]
The question suggests it is an either/or proposition…determined by a set of rules that cannot be broken. The reality is more nuanced.
The Frequency of a Blue Moon
Last Wednesday was a rare celestial event, a Super-Red-Blue moon.
A Super moon means the proximity of it to the earth makes it look much larger than normal in the sky. (Only 223,820 miles away last Wednesday.)
A Red moon happens with a Lunar Eclipse where the shadow of the earth covers the moon as it moves between the moon and the sun. If it is a full moon, the shadow casts a red hue on the lunar surface.
A Blue moon is commonly understood as the second full moon in a single month. The typical Blue moon happens every 2.7 years. In 2018 it happens twice, in January and again in March.
The combination of all three at once is quite rare. The last time there was a super-red-blue moon was 1982 and the next time will be 2037.
Why this explanation? Because it illustrates the idea that things CAN happen which are out of the ordinary.
Your Self-Published Book Becomes Traditionally Published
Yes, a self-published book can be re-released by a major publisher. It happens a little more often than the blue moon, but it is not the norm. I’ve represented a few projects which were originally self-published. The topic, the content, the quality, the author, and the sales all contribute to its viability.
As we have written here before, self-publishing is a form of test marketing. If no one buys the book the question becomes, “Why not?” The author often answers, “My lack of marketing budget, sales ability, and visibility.” To which the major publisher asks, “If the author’s platform is so weak, then why should we invest in it?”
Thus, landing a self-published book with a traditional publisher CAN happen, but “once in a blue moon.”
Your Book is Turned into a Movie
Many authors dream of seeing their novel on the big screen. Their friends, family, and editor will say things like, “This should be a movie! It is so good!” The writer calls their agent and asks, “When are you going to get my book with a major movie studio?”
The process for getting your story on screen can be complicated. Read Robin Jones Gunn’s fascinating ten year journey How My Book Became a Movie. We always follow every lead that comes our way with regard to film options and licensing but getting to a deal and then to production can be a challenge.
Books into film is a nuanced conversation. I talked with one producer who said the novel needs two things. 1) Significant sales in the traditional market, i.e. a bestseller. 2) The story needs to be “cinematic.” Meaning it would translate well on screen because the core story is easy to convey. A complex plot can be difficult to translate into a 120 page double-spaced movie script (one page of script per minute on screen is the formula). That same producer then rejected our bestselling novelist because the stories were not “cinematic.”
Another producer wanted one of our client’s stories but said, “I need to have a PG-13 type script so I can attract investors. Therefore, we need to add some ‘skin’ and at least one ‘f-bomb’ to the story.” (The author said “No” and the deal was not done.)
Don’t get me wrong, we have done a number of film options for our clients, but the journey to finding the funding for the production has been difficult for the producer.
On the other hand, Lynette Eason, one of Tamela’s clients, had her story optioned by her publisher to the Lifetime Network. The made-for-tv movie aired last Friday at 8pm. Very fun. Here is the trailer for “Her Stolen Past.”
What I’m trying to say is landing a movie deal for your book CAN happen, but only “once in a blue moon.”
Getting an Agent
The faint of heart should stop reading. This past month I personally received 137 unsolicited email proposals and 42 unsolicited hard copy proposals. That is about average. Some agents receive three times that many.
A lot of people are writing and seeking representation. I don’t need to repeat what we’ve said before about the review process.
Suffice it to say, getting an agent CAN happen, but only “once in a blue moon.”
The bottom line is that anything can happen in our industry. This is why we try to maintain an open door when it comes to proposals. We never know what might be next in the pile. It might be your project that connects with us and then connects with an editor and then connects with the marketplace. I hope yours will be the one that falls under the category of “Once in a Blue Moon.”