How Hollywood Decides to Make Your Book Into a Movie, by David Farland

By David Farland

(From David Farland’s Daily Kick in the Pants—Making the Runelords Movie)

When a new writer puts out a book, you’ll often hear of immediate movie interest. I had interest in NIGHTINGALE, my most recent novel, before the book was ever released, for example.

This all sounds exciting, especially to a new author. You’ve just sold your first young adult novel, a big studio decides to option it, and suddenly you’re getting paid $60,000 per year “for nothing.”

Does this mean that a movie will be made based on your book? Possibly. If your book gets optioned at that price, there’s about a 1/10 chance. So what’s the deciding factor?

Fans. It’s all about the fans.

If your newly re-leased book comes out, and the sales are strong. That’s great. But you need about three to five million fans before the studios will decide that it’s a good bet. They want to feel assured that there are real customers out there, willing to pay for the opportunity to see this film. So they buy an option, tie up the rights, and wait. Of course, they buy rights for several other books, too. That way, no matter which horse is winning the race, they can jump on it’s back.

Sometimes, they’ll announce their intent to make a movie loudly. Why? Maybe they love the story, but it’s a good bet that they also want to push the book, generate some interest, in order to create a larger audience, and thus justify making the film.

Remember, the people who own the movie companies are the same ones who own the publishing companies and the newspapers and magazines. In short, they are all in it together, and sometimes one hand washes another.

For example, I was recently doing a radio interview in Salt Lake. The interviewer was so happy to have me. He’d wanted to interview me for years, but hadn’t been able to. Why? Because the station that he worked for was owned by a competing publisher. It wasn’t until the publisher I was with got bought out that he could interview me.

The same kind of thing happens with books and movies, to some degree. All of that money that movie studios spend on advertising, where do you think it goes? I suspect that a disproportionate amount would go to the television and radio stations, along with the newspapers and magazines that the studio owns. Why not? If you owned that megacorp, wouldn’t you be spending money in-house?

So what does that have to do with you, the author? It means that when you’ve got a book that you’re hoping will become a movie, you need to build up that critical mass that is needed to convince Hollywood that you’re worthy. Ultimately, those numbers are what the execs will need to look at in order to make that final decision.

Currently, I’m getting ready to take my Runelords series to Hollywood. I’ve written what I believe is the best screenplay for a fantasy in many, many years. Worked my tail off. But in order to get the movie made, I’ll need to convince Hollywood that it is worth doing. One way to do that is to simply look at how many people are interested. If you would like to see a great fantasy movie—in line with Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter, please go to my web page at and then like it and—this is important—share it on Facebook. We need a couple of million fans right away.

If you do that, I can do the rest.

New Short Story Writing Contest for All Writers New and Experienced Boasts One-Thousand Dollar Grand Prize, Published Story and Opportunity for Novel Contract. Sponsored by International Bestselling Author David Farland and East India Press.


READ: Nightingale, by David Farland

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