6 Tips for Navigating Your Page-to-Screen Adaptation
Popcorn that drips butter. The satisfying rip of a ticket. Leather seats that recline—all the way back. For a moment, the screen is black. Then the movie starts, and your main character takes to the screen.
It’s every writer’s dream. And although it’s a bigger process than we imagine, it’s educational and entertaining to play with the idea of seeing your story play out on the silver screen. So, here are some ways to prepare mentally, emotionally, and fashionably for your very own book-to-movie adaptation.
1. Work with your literary agent to explore your options for selling your novel rights. They’ll know best what terms are favorable, how long the process will take, and what film agent is best to work with.
2. When you get picked up (see how positive we’re being?!), you deserve to know what sort of payment you’ll get; after all, the story and characters are your creative brainchild. Typically, you’re offered an option fee right off the bat. It’s usually based on the production budget with a cap.
3. So you got a deal, and your precious book is in movie production! Do a little dance. But don’t get too crazy. Odds are, you won’t get a ton of say in the script or production of the film. Unless you’re a super-famous J.K. Rowling-type, the movie team generally takes over. The value the production team places upon the author’s input varies – just don’t get your hopes up too terribly high. Just think about how you’re getting a freakin’ movie!
4. Here’s the hardest part: waiting. You thought the publishing industry was slow? Think again. The movie biz has many moving parts, so you’re going to have to distract yourself. Take up a new hobby such as pickleball or underwater basket weaving. Write a new book. Or better yet, write a hundred books. Settle in for the long haul.
5. Accept that while your movie is a big deal, it won’t make or break you. Say you don’t get the final say (or any say) on the script or casting. Say you aren’t entirely happy with the final product being put into the world. It’s still publicity for you and your novel—something over which you do have a good amount of creative control. Fans of the book won’t always be happy with the movie adaption. But they are only unhappy because they love your book so deeply. Don’t take criticism of the movie as criticism of you or your writing.
6. Finally: The fun part! Your movie is on the come up, and the premier is tomorrow night, and you’ve finally got a chance to make yourself look like a real human before your work is shown to the public. Have a fun day leading up to the event full of special treats. Pick out a snazzy outfit with the help of a professional stylist. Visit a hairstylist, get a facial, and schedule a massage. It’s your big day, so treat yourself like the celeb you are. Then grab a red carpet date (we suggest Ryan Reynolds if he’s free) or a gang of your best friends, and go out for celebratory drinks after your movie.
If your agent is even discussing the idea of a film agent, it means you’ve done something absolutely right. No matter what happens with your novel’s movie (it’s going to happen – we’re calling it!), remember this: people are reading your work, and that’s the real achievement, folks.