Monday, September 08, 2014

Query Question: book from an original movie

For books based off films (films that are not adaptions), how would one go about obtaining the rights? It is difficult (I personally tried to research) to find the correct person to contact.

I do have an outline and details for an idea but I am unsure about going forth writing the piece if I have no way of the ability to send the final manuscript out to agents with copyright issues.

What would I go about doing?

What you are proposing to write is called a novelization.
The rights are owned by the studio (generally.)

Finding out who to contact is impossible for someone with no connections nor an agent. And frankly, even if you find the right guy, they won't call you back if you're on your own.

Several publishers have novel tie-in publishing programs. They hire writers (usually on a work for hire basis) to write novelizations.  As far as I know, those authors all have agents.

But here's my question to you: why on God's green earth do you want to do this?  Novelizations generally don't sell all that well, unless they're something like Star Wars or other big brand name franchises or blockbusters.

Write your own book. Find an agent.  If you still want to write novelizations, then you'll at least have someone who can help you do that.


Anonymous said...

I had to read this twice to be sure I got it. I guess this is the reverse of what generally happens, i.e. this person wants to take a movie and turn it into a book versus having their book turned into a movie. Never heard of this...I thought it always went the other way. It seems the latest GODZILLA movie had this done as a mass market paperback.

Colin Smith said...

While I've never tried it myself, I've often thought that writing a novelization--of either a movie or an episode of a TV show--could be good writing practice. There's the challenge of taking scenes that works visually and making them work verbally. And also the opportunity to analyze plot and dialog, thinking about how they can be tweaked to improve the story.

But I have to agree with Janet. As a writer, I'd rather be known for my original fiction than for derivative work. Not that there's anything wrong with writing novelizations or fan fiction. I guess that's a career choice you need to make.

Stephsco said...

Just by chance, perhaps the author meant they are influenced by a work? Like the hundreds of different takes on Jane Austen books where the premise of Pride & Prejudice is flipped or set in current day with cats--whatever.

Adele said...

It sounds to me like the author wants to write fan-fiction - they've seen a movie and want to use the same characters in the same world but with a different plot.

John "Ol' Chumbucket" Baur said...

This can't be a serious question, can it? Would anyone blithely assume the rights owner would just give them away? If the studio (a corporation organized as a money-making venture, despite what the evidence of movie quality suggests) thinks there's a dime to be made in the novelization, they'll have it done themselves. As someone (in "Get Shorty," perhaps?) said, "They squeeze the nickel so hard the buffalo cries."

Hilary said...

Usually, if a studio wants a novelization it will be written from the script and come out around the same time as the movie, so you're a little bit too late for that.

Elissa M said...

It also sounds to me like the letter writer is thinking of fan fiction. Novelizations of movies and television shows are not at all new, especially when it comes to science fiction. And, as Janet said, already known writers are hired to do these works.

Fan fiction is a great way to learn some of the technical aspects of writing without having to worry about world building and character creation. It's sort of like how artists copy old masters to learn various techniques without having to deal with design and composition.

My suggestion to the letter writer is to go ahead and write the story you had in mind, especially if you've never written a novel before. Most writers' first novels are learning experiences anyway, not something to be published. Then, using what you've learned writing your fan fiction piece, you can write your own characters in your own world, with a plot line of your own creation. You won't have to worry about securing rights when it's your own work.

DLM said...

I'm going to come to this LR's defense and point out Janet's note about Trek/Star Wars.

I'm friendly acquaintances with one or two Trek (etc.) novelists, and they are decidedly not writing fan fiction. Indeed, they're authors making their way in a way I certainly cannot lay claim to, and some of them are, I'm sorry, really good.

Keith DeCandido is a very good Trek novelist you can find on Twitter, which may be a good way to learn more about these things, even beyond the Trek/Wars universes. The field includes many movie franchises and television shows, as well as entertainment already crossing many media. One of the most famous series of the late 20th century, the Hitchhiker's Guide series, was originally a radio series (granted, written by the man who then eventually NOVELIZED) it. It's a perfectly cromulent field, even if it's not the world of this blog. And people with a great deal of cultural/intellectual cache' enjoy these works, so I'm a little bewildered at a somewhat snobby "this has to be a joke" tone here.

Letter writer, find some folks on Twitter who do what you want to do - they're out there, and Twitter will start to find more for you once you find a few. Social networking can open you up to resources and education. This may not be the route to the bestseller list, but how many of us are going to end up there???

Anastasia Stratu said...

Haiku of a Poetess after the Death of her Son

O my dragonfly catcher
You ran so far away