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Press release generates Hollywood screen option for indie author

After Judith Marshall commented on my blog post about how to e-mail a press release that her press release landed her a movie option, I asked her to tell us how it happened. As background, Judith is a third generation native Californian who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. The movie option is for Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever; she has just finished her second novel, Staying Afloat. It’s the story of a devoted stay-at-home wife and mother who morphs into a sex-starved adulteress. For more information, please visit her website.  

Press release generates Hollywood screen option for indie author

By Judith Marshall

Three years and 200-plus rejections after my unpublished novel Husbands May Come and Go but Friends are Forever won the Jack London Prize awarded by the California Writer Club, I decided to independently publish my book. I knew I had a great story and I wasn’t giving up, plus I wasn’t getting any younger.

I bought a block of ISBNs, set up a publishing imprint, registered my DBA, and purchased a package from CreateSpace.

But how to let people (especially Hollywood, which was my ultimate target) know about my book? I talked with several book publicists, asked a ton of questions, and decided to hire a marketing company to write and distribute a press release to more than 1,850 media outlets. I received lots of requests for interviews on radio, blog talk radio and I even appeared on NBC-TV Midday Arizona. The book came out, I had some sales, and things were going well.

Used free distribution site

About three months after the book was released, I decided to send the press release out again through the free distribution site, PR.com. Why not? The release was mine. Might as well get my money’s worth.

Within a week, I received an email from a female producer in Hollywood that read, “I received a press release about your book and would love to read it. I will be ordering it from Amazon.” I immediately Googled her and found she was a former Hollywood actress who had set up her own production company and had just finished producing an independent film. I could hardly believe it! My free press release reached the exact target I was looking for. Of course, I offered her a free autographed copy.

It took a couple of months, but the producer read the book, loved it, and sent me a 16-page agreement offering to option all motion picture, television, and all other audio-visual rights. I was ecstatic, but overwhelmed by the contract. I turned to my network of authors, and asked for recommendations for an entertainment attorney. I found the perfect man who combed through the agreement thoroughly and helped me negotiate important aspects, such as not giving up my rights to the book.

He was also helpful in answering questions like is there a going rate for options? No. What do they base the calculations on? Whatever the author is willing to accept. In that regard, he said he had seen screen rights sold for as little $1. He was also quick to add that once I signed the agreement, the producer had no obligation to involve me further or even keep me advised of her progress. It was like giving a child up for adoption.

Weeks of negotiation net a deal

The negotiations took a few weeks of going back and forth between my attorney and the producer’s attorney. In the end, I signed the agreement and received a mid-four-figure amount for the initial 18 months, with the purchaser’s right to extend the agreement for another 12 months by a second payment of the same sum.

The most surprising news is that the producer does want me involved in the process and has sent me the initial screenplay for comments. I can’t tell you how exciting it is to see your book adapted into an actual script.

So all you indie authors out there, don’t give up on your dreams. With passion and persistence, anything can happen.

Has your book’s press release made exciting things happen for your book?

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  1. Thank you, Judith, for sharing your wonderful news about your CreateSpace novel attracting a Hollywood producer! I am so excited for you! I will purchase a copy of your book immediately. I, myself, have just finished putting my first ebook on Amazon Kindle. It’s a thriller/mystery with the three main characters in it Baby Boomers, as I am older myself and understand better how they think. I would like to see my book (I am working now to get it ready for CreateSpace) also become a movie, but like you, I do not have any real contacts to help with that, although I will send out free press releases soon. The name of my book is The Delaney Project. If you are interested in reading it, I would be more than pleased to send you a copy of the ebook (or the actual book when that is available.) I understand that you may be too busy right now to accept my offer, and that is okay. All the best, and I look forward to seeing your book on the screen!
    Chris Pirkey

  2. First of all, thanks so much, Sandy, for sharing my story. And Christine, thanks for your good wishes and let me know when your book is available in print. There’s nothing like writers helping other writers.

  3. Very exciting (not to mention inspirational), and well-deserved for all your hard work and persistence! I look forward to seeing the movie. Hope your second book does ever better.
    Cheers, Don Maker
    Author of “Zenobia”

  4. Judith, you are a shining example of using the four P’s to make your dreams come true: passion, planning, patience, and persistence. Thanks for sharing your inspiring story. It reminds me of one of my favorite sayings: luck is the residue of planning and hard work. Looking forward to the movie!
    Barbara Bentley
    Author of “A Dance with the Devil: A True Story of Marriage to a Psychopath”

    1. Barbara, I hadn’t heard that one about luck before, but I love it! Thanks for sharing it!

      p.s. I love your book title!

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