It has long been said that the major trade publishers are beginning to act more and more like big Hollywood studios in that the publishers only care about best-seller/blockbuster titles now and not the moderately profitable midlist.
I’ve never been convinced of the truth of the premise, but The Guardian has inadvertently gathered a bunch of examples which show major publishers picking up the book rights to a novel at the same time that studios swoop in to acquire the movie rights.
Last week The Guardian published an article about indie authors being snapped up by Hollywood. On first reading, it looks like the writer failed to notice that many of the mentioned titles are published by traditional publishers and that one (Fifty Shades ) has a lot of people in publishing arguing that it had never been self-published in the first place (opinions are divided on this point).
Digging into the background of the story, however, revealed a more interesting story.
After watching Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, self-published author Mark Dawson was inspired to create his own answer to the film’s heroine Beatrix “Black Mamba” Kiddo. And now Dawson – and his character government-employed assassin Beatrix Rose – are set to take on Hollywood, with his series on the verge of a major television deal, complete with a “triple A” producer.
Details of Dawson’s TV deal are under wraps, and he says it is expected to be finalised in the next few days. But his is just the latest in a line of deals between studios and self-published authors, including AG Riddle and Hugh Howey, who have been targeted by studios after the successes of Andy Weir’s The Martian and EL James’s Fifty Shades franchise. AG Riddle’s Departure series was scooped up by Fox-based producer Steve Tzirlin in a six-figure deal, while Howey’s dystopian sci-fi novel Wool was signed up by Ridley Scott and 20th Century Fox.
Mark Dawson’s series was picked up by Amazon two years ago, and is now published by Thomas & Mercer. He’s about to sell thee movie rights.
Andy Weir sold the book rights and the movie rights to The Martian the same week.
AG Riddle’s deal with HarperCollins for Departure was announced at the same time as the movie deal.
I know the comparison isn’t perfect; movie studios frequently buy books just in case they may one day want to make a movie. Publishers, on the other hand, expect to put the book on the market ASAP.
But I for one find it interesting that trade publishers are striking deals alongside studios. It used to be that trade publishers got the book first, long before it was shopped to the studios, but now we see them scrambling to lock down a best-seller after the fact.
image by JoeInSouthernCA