More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Your Book Contract and Hollywood

Recently Divas Robin Wright and Shannon Delany started chatting about books and movies--specifically what happens when books become movies. This is a continuation of the trouble--erm--conversation Robin Wright started on Thursday of last week. ;-)

It's no big secret I signed a trilogy contract with St. Martin's Press (at least I hope it's not ;-). At the same time that contract was being looked over we (my agent and I) were dealing with interest from a movie producer. Please keep in mind a movie producer doesn't have to be anyone with amazing Hollywood know how. Generally producers bring one area of expertise to a show's production. And money.

You've probably noticed a good number of actors being named as producers. They bring their talent, their connections and their money to a production. So there are many producers in this world. Keep that in mind.

Signing with SMP as we did, we handed them film rights--not something an author has to do, but something somewhat expected in deals with newbies. I mean, let's be honest--what was I going to do with film rights--13 to Life: The Local Musical? *snort* And, although there were multiple parties interested, I had no idea what would be a dealbreaker. Contracts can make you twitch.

Here's how my contract reads (I know--*snore*):

(b) Grant of Rights. The following additional and subsidiary rights in the Work are hereby included in those granted and assigned to the Publisher by subparagraph 1(c):
(i) The sole and exclusive possession in the United States, its territories and dependencies of:

* (A) Selection Rights;

* (B) First Serial Rights;

* (C) Second Serial Rights;

* (D) Microfilm Rights; <==YES. Microfilm. LOL

* (E) Electronic Text Rights;

* (F) Translation Rights (note: in the United States, its territories and dependencies only);

(ii) The sole and exclusive possession in the rest of the Exclusive Territory of Print Rights and Translation Rights;

(iii) <===This one was struck through, so it was removed. Buh-bye!

(iv) The sole and exclusive possession throughout the world in all languages of:

* (A) Sound Reproduction Rights;

* (B) Multimedia Rights;

* (C) Movie and Television Rights;

* (D) Game Rights;

* (E) Live Theatrical Rights; <==Noooo! There goes my musical! ;-)

* (F) Cartoon strip, novelty, advertising and other commercial use of characters, fanciful places, situations, ideas, events and other material from the Work ("Merchandizing Rights").

Now, looking at that, it appears to royally suck. I mean, seriously, I gave them everything. However. I have a nifty-neat-o clause that says...

If the Publisher has not optioned or licensed Movie and Television Rights in a Book by the end of twelve (12) months from the date of publication of the Publisher's initial publication of such Book, the Author shall thereafter have the right to revoke such unoptioned or unlicensed rights in such Book, by giving written notice to the Publisher by registered and certified mail, return receipt requested, which notice shall not be effective unless received by the Publisher prior to the Publisher's agreeing to an option or license.

So. One calendar year after 13 to Life: A Werewolf's Tale is officially first published I can have my movie and tv rights revert back to me. This puts me in an interesting situation (because I really, really want a movie deal). Honestly, I'd like SMP to make the deal. They have lawyers and people to handle that sort of stuff and sure--I'd only get the lion's share of the licensing fee, but it's still potentially a chunk of change. If I have to try and make a deal yes, I may make more money and have more control but I'll also spend more time and money on lawyers. Blech.

If you think visually (and I sure did for this series) you'll probably want to think about your production rights and who would handle what if you get asked about a movie (or other) deal. I hope this helps with that a little bit.

And, although I agree with Robin that most books can't be expressed very well on the big screen, I'm still a movie girl. Besides, I promised the Divas a while back that if I landed a movie deal we'd have our red carpet moment (and I doubt it counts if I roll a red carpet out at my house in the middle of nowhere and microwave popcorn ;-).

Off to watch something!


SarannaDeWylde said...


Who would you want to play Pietr?

I think Ian Somerholder would be a great Caspian. They'd have to use movie magic to make him a bit taller. *g* Of course, in How To Marry A Warlock, I require the Viking god that is Alexander Skarsgard. I even twittered him, begging him to do the cover. *laughs*

Further, I was in a bookstore the other day and I was eyeballing some first run copies of The Vampire Diaries and the clerk asked me if I'd read any other good YA paranormals that I would rec. 13 To Life all the way, girly!! *g*

Jennifer L Hart said...

I always wondered about this, the whole film rights to the publisher thing. I'm sure every contract is different, tailored to the book it is meant to represent.

I have actors picked out who I want to play Brennigan and Talenforth for the Steller series. Of course, I'm worlds away. (Step one, finish book one, step two sell book one;-) But it is fun to think about!

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