Come Along With Me As I Write My Novels
(And a lot of other new writing experiences too)
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted. Over a month in fact. I can’t believe it’s taken me that long to write another update. It’s not for lack of things going on. I’ve been having the most fun with promoting The Cube through Little Free Library giveaways. I’ve made it to four states outside of Illinois since September (Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Wisconsin). Stay tuned to find out what state will be next! If you have any suggestions (or decide to buy a copy of the The Cube and put it in a Little Library by you) let me know!
The biggest news by far has been my book option - aka someone wants to make my book into a movie! EEK! The paperwork was signed and the announcement was made on October 12. YAY! There’s still a long way to go for the filmmaker, so we don’t know what will happen, but I’m really excited for the journey. And, I learned a lot through the process so I wanted to share that will all of you.
So first, what is a book option? Basically, if someone options your book it means that you are granting them the rights to try and make the book into something else - e.g. a TV show or a movie. Could even be a song. The person that optioned my book, Mitch Yapko, now has the permission to go to investors and movie management and say, “I have the rights to this book. Help me make a movie.” Very exciting.
I’m going to paraphrase the next part, so don’t take this as any kind of legal advice, but from what I gathered through the process, there are two kinds of options. One is a basic option, which can be granted to more than one person. So that’s saying to one or more person, sure, you can try and get this made into a movie but if someone else gets there first, I may go with them. The other is a purchase option, in which the exclusive rights are granted to one person. The officially terminology might be slightly different but that’s the gist. The purchase option is what Mitch and I went with. So, exclusive rights are yours Mitch! Onward my friend!
A few things…
So I imagine, the burning question is, “How DID you get your book optioned?” Well, like in all things publishing, there are million ways these things happen. For me, it truly was through social media. I posted a ton when my book came out. My college friend, the aforementioned Mitch, saw the post and bought the book. He read it, loved it, and sent me a message asking if we could connect. We talked, and I could tell that he really understood and appreciated the book, and he asked me if he could option it. I said yes and then all we had to do was make it official. If I hadn’t been aggressively posting on Facebook, he may never have seen it. So, the moral of the story there is - don’t be shy folks, you never know what will happen.
The next step was actually pulling the agreement together. That’s what ended up taking more time. I don’t have an agent and didn’t have a lawyer. Mitch also didn’t have representation for this type of agreement. So, we had to tag team it. We did a lot of online research on what goes into agreements like this. I asked some of my friends that are in the creative industry about book options and he did the same. Then, he started looking for a manager and I started to look for a lawyer, because, in my experience, finding a lawyer is way less work than getting an agent to sign you.
Still, even if finding a lawyer is easier, you have to find the right one. I met with several people. All were nice. All were knowledgeable, but it wasn’t until I talked to Odell (Odell Mitchell III of Thirdinline Legal) that I knew I’d found my person. From the first phone call we just had a great vibe and I thought - this is the person I want representing me. At the end of the day, if you are going to put your work in the hands of someone else, you have to find someone that meshes with your style. So, the first thing I actually signed was an agreement of representation with Odell. Odell made that part very easy.
How did I find Odell? Through my network. I asked a bunch of my friends that have larger social networks if they know of any entertainment lawyers. A friend of mine emailed her friend. Her friend suggested Odell. The way the world goes round. My best advice here is to ask your network. If your friends like someone, chances are you will too. (PS… this is how I found all the people I met with actually. All were referrals from friends.)
Once I had Odell, we still needed to get the paperwork in order. In these cases, it is up to the book optioner (aka Mitch) to present the paperwork to the author. They want the option, they do the work. Because the internet has everything, we were able to find a sample agreement which Mitch took the time to review, fill in, and adapt, and then he sent that to me. I sent that to Odell. Odell revised it and counseled me why he made the changes. Mitch and I agreed on all the points. We both signed and voila! The option was complete!
I’d say the whole thing took a couple of months.
So, now what? Well, now Mitch has the hard part. He is writing the screenplay and is going to be pursuing all avenues to make the movie. I have the easy part. I sit back and am at the ready if he has any questions along the way. We’ve already had one really fun screenplay conversation. He asked me a lot of questions about the world in the book. I got to tell him about things I’d loved to see be in a movie (still up to him if he puts them in though) and he told me about some things he’s envisioning. I’m sure it will be the first of many such talks, which leads me to think this whole thing will be quite fun. One of his questions intrigued me; he asked me if there are still homeless people in the world I created in The Cube (my short answer was yes). The question so intrigued me that I wrote a few pages on it from the point of view of a completely new character named Kaitlyn who works at a homeless shelter. I typed that up and sent it off to Mitch. I’ll be honest, part of me hopes that keeps happening because it was a lot of fun.
A lot of people ask me if I am worried about giving up my book to someone else. I can honestly say, not at all. I wrote my book. Mitch will make his movie. They are different creative endeavors. Maybe it’s easier because I’m working with someone I care for and trust, but even if that wasn’t the case, I think I’d feel about the same. I expect the movie will have a lot of differences, and I actually can’t wait to see them. I’m honestly sincerely and genuinely flattered that he asked. It’s one thing for me to love my book. It’s mind-blowing to find out someone else does too. I am SO excited for Mitch. I can’t even express it. I’m already proud of him.
So, that was my book option experience. I hope that it is a little helpful for those out there who might be going through the same thing, or at least interesting for folks who just want to know a little bit more about how these things work. I’m sure there are tons of posts out there about more complicated ways these things happen - authors who are soliciting options or who are in an option bidding war or who have agents that shop their book around for optioning - but my experience was very grassroots, which to be quite frank, goes along perfectly well with my experience with the The Cube overall.
I promise to keep you all posted as I find out more about the movie. For now, if you want to learn more about Mitch, Odell, or any of the people I work with on my writing journey, check out my collaborators page. I’m so lucky to be surrounded by such amazing people.