3 Tips For How To Get Your Book In Front Of A Hollywood Producer

(HINT: You don’t need a lit agent)film-production-237406_1280

When was the last time you were at the movies?

If it was sometime in the past 50 years of so (please tell me it was!), then chances are you caught a flick that was based on a book.

Book adaptations have always been a source of compelling content (think Jaws and the first Jurassic Park), but more recently, adaptations have become one of the fastest growing, most reliably profitable and attractive markets for producers in Hollywood (think Hunger Games and Harry Potter).

Authors everywhere are gaining more and more traction with producers looking for compelling stories to be adapted for film and television…

So where do you start?

Traditionally, authors begin by looking for a literary agent who would then connect them with producers and agents in the entertainment industry, and act as their calling card to success in Hollywood.

Well I’m here to tell you that is not [always] the case…

If you are a well-known author who already has a large following of fans and readers, then this traditional route will be effective for you because a lit agent has pull with producers.

A lit agent’s job is basically to make a producer’s life easier by acting as a middleman between writers and producers.

But… If you are an author who is just starting out or still working to figure out how to gain traction for yourself and your book(s), then going the lit agent route is not your best option.

Here’s why:

Literary agents are very focused on the projects that will provide an easy transaction with guaranteed profit. Which is great for those established writers with built in audiences and profitable material, but not so great for an author who isn’t quite as established (yet).

So here’s what you do….

Bypass the literary agent and go straight to the producer!

Producers by nature just have different priorities than a lit agent. It’s their job to stick with a project from start to finish, which means that 9 times out of 10, a producer supports the projects for which they feel passionate about.

Simply put: Agents are transaction focused; Producers are passion focused. They need new and exciting material to keep their careers moving.

This is where your opportunity lies!

Now, your job as an author is to get producers on your side to support you and your story…

To help you do that, here are 3 tips for nabbing a producer to champion your project from start-to-finish:

1. Be helpful and build good rapport!

By now you probably know how busy producers are. They literally have stacks and stacks of scripts and books to go over. So the more helpful you can be (by lessening their workload), the more likely they are to get behind your project.

One of the best and most effective ways to do this is to present producers with easy-to-read materials that speak their language. Hint, hint: producers are very visual people and would much rather read short, compelling content, rather than a dense book or screenplay…

Using materials like a lookbook or a treatment to convey your project’s main ideas is the way to go because these types of materials involve less reading for the producer while simultaneously helping them to visualize how a project will look.

Another way to be helpful is to build a good rapport with producers…you can start by being open to feedback (accept what they have to say!) and being respectful of their time.

Producers will stick their necks out for projects (and people) they really believe in (and like), so it’s imperative that you bring them concise, compelling content that has high market value and the possibility to go big (AKA award worthy and highly profitable) while also being kind and courteous.

Make their decision to take your script to the finish line a no-brainer!

2. Know your market!

This tip requires you to do your homework! If you ask a producer what one of the most annoying/off-putting things that happens to them on a regular basis, they will most likely say: “Pitches that have nothing to do with me or my market!” (Followed by several grim tales of mishaps and gaffs).

If you’re a chef, you would never pitch to get a job as an astronaut.

Similarly, if your book is a thriller, you should never pitch to a producer who works exclusively in animation.

When you do land a meeting with a producer in your market, it is of the utmost importance that you are prepared with project options, ideas for how to market your story, and knowledge of current market trends.

3. Be in it for the long haul…and be nice along the way!

Making a movie can take up to 5-10 years (Twelve Years A Slave took 12!). If you’re not willing or able to invest that kind of time, why would a producer want to help you out?

They wouldn’t.

The longer you stick it out, the more opportunities you will create for yourself, while also showing your producer that you’re committed.

Also, you must be easy to work with (and nice)!

There are a ton of stories out there about creators who let their arrogance get the best of them… take Troy Duffy for instance (yes, there’s a reason you don’t recognize his name).

Duffy was a bar-owner turned overnight Hollywood success story, until his ego got in the way.

He wrote the screenplay for The Bookdock Saints, which was picked up by Harvey Weinstein and Miramax to the tune of a $450,000 contract, plus a $500,000 two-script deal with Paramount.

Not too shabby for the Chicago-native bar owner!

However, things quickly went south when Duffy began developing a reputation for being crass and rude to the producers and potential stars of the film (he insulted Ethan Hawke and Keanu Reeves who were in consideration for Boondock and Jerry Bruckheimer who was a potential producer for the film).

As word of Duffy’s unprofessional/rude behavior got back to Weinstein, he was blacklisted and Miramax dropped the Bookdock contract.

The next thing Duffy knew, his calls were being refused, his deal was dropped and he lost all his contacts in Hollywood; he will likely never work again in Hollywood because of his horrible behavior, overblown ego, and tarnished reputation.

Let this be a lesson to you…

Don’t let your ego get in the way!

____________

So the moral of the story is (1) you don’t necessarily need a literary agent to make it in Hollywood, (2) you can go straight to a producer to champion your project and (3) build good relationships with producers!

Do you have any tips we missed? Comment below!

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22 Comments

  1. I have written a book entitled~~Angel in the Attic~~also the sequel~~Return of the Attic Angel.~~ It is fiction with a little bit of supernatural with the angel. It depicts Leah Barronne as the rejected wife of Ian Barronne who hires a killer to drown her so he can marry Cyndi, who loves him so dearly she will help scheme to get Leah’s inheritance. Leah however, escapes death and manages to drag her painful body back to the house and occupies the third story apartment unknown to Ian. She developes a serious illness, from the contaminated water which brings caregiver/angel into focus~~Mark Thatcher, who adds excitement in various ways because of his divine attributes. Suddenly Leah inherits trillions of dollars from her wealthy aunt Nora which ignites a willingness in her to avenge Ian and Cyndi in ruthless ways. Cost is no object. She has a speaker system installed so she can hear all conversations downstairs between Ian and Cyndi and uses all information against them. The end is so dramatic, it led to demands for a sequel. This could be made into a remarkable movie. I have not given it justice here. If I may send you this book you could of course form your own opinion.

    Reply
    • Hi,I’m Renate Watts
      I wrote the Book MY LIFE BEYOND THE RUINS.
      How to I meet a Producer?

      Reply
      • Hi Renate – thank you for the note! Our team of producers are available for pitches and strategy sessions…you can check out the team at https://www.voyagemedia.com/get-connected. Thanks!

        Reply
      • I have written three fictional stories. I would like to have a producer read two of them if possible, because one story is a sequel to the first. I have been told they are really good stories. I can’t afford a publisher. I self-published these myself. How do I go about having someone, anyone, look at these two stories.

        Thank you

        Reply
  2. Bypass the literary agent? Sounds interesting. Go straight to the producer? Even more interesting. So, how do I acquire a USPS mailing/emailing list to market my film treatment? Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Skip – great question! IMDB Pro is a great tool to gather the contact information of producers in your market. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  3. I am an author of several historical and thriller novels. Most of work is cinematic and some can be great blockbusters. But I have been unable to get the attention of any producers in Hollywood to my works. Specifically I have a novel entitled “The Last Hunt” which deals with the Oligarchs rise in Russia but the conflicts takes place mostly on a safari hunt in Africa. It is a drama thriller and It has all the elements for a great feature film with big names and a big production. Can you advise me how to present this novel and where I can present it for exposure. I have tried to get the attention of some known agents but they disregard my contacts so far because I am not a known name in the authors world, especially in the USA. My books are translated into Russian, Arabic and Turkish and are selling well elswhere.

    Reply
  4. My first ever book titled SPIRIT OF LOVE was published 2012. I was aged 75.
    How would I go about finding a producer?
    R. Morarjee.

    Reply
  5. just wondering hiw you find producers on your area of interest?

    Reply
    • Hi Marty – thanks for the note! IMDB Pro is a great tool to research producers in your market. You can also use our producer matching tool at https://www.voyagemedia.com/get-connected to see which Voyage Producers are looking for projects in your market. Hope this helps!

      Reply
  6. I’ve written my 1st book ‘Wake-up Calls’ in 2014, published unedited.
    The book is about tragic events in my life, which were wake up calls for me to change what I was doing. It took few events before I realised that each event was a wake-up call. when I did change my path, what I doing every thing change for good. I wrote the book so that the readers would realised that they might be having such events, and not realising that are some sort of message from higher power to do some thing different. I wish someone out there will read and understand what I’ve gone through and relate to their own life story.

    Reply
  7. I have published a mystery fiction story: Mystery at Deadfall Lake. The sequel (Mystery on the Seine)will be published March 2016. A retired security investigator in a small California mountain resort town offers his pro-bono services in a reopened seventeen year old missing persons case. It is soon evident that multiple murders may have taken place in the community. The investigator has his life threatened. The FBI is brought in to aid in the case after discovering that state lines were crossed by the alleged perpetrator. Multiple readers have mentioned that the book(s) would make a great movie for TV. I am prepared to cooperate in any way that is necessary to get a professional person to review these stories.

    Reply
    • Hi Terry – your stories sound intriguing! Our team of producers are always on the lookout for their next big project. You can check out our teams bios along with the program they each offer at https://www.voyagemedia.com/get-connected. Thanks!

      Reply
  8. Titles of my two books…Three Four Shut the Door..I have sold over four thousand hard copies….and…Whispers in the Wind-Riverview Asylum

    Reply
  9. I have written a book entilited, “the Sufferer and the Abuser”. It is a true story of a young girl who marries a man who becomes an alcoholic and an abuser. She suffers hardships, fear and broken bones at the hands of this man she loves. After seventeen years she makes an escape.

    Reply
  10. Can you connect me to appropriate producers on my two novels please?
    One titled Tasha, an inspirational book for children. It about a girl who came to a new land and had to face lots of challenges but with the “Can do spirit of those in her new land, she was able to overcome her challenges.
    My second book is about relationship: how prejudice and ignorance led to many difficulties in the life of two young people who fell in love. It is titled Love Is It.

    Reply
    • Hi Elizabeth – thanks for your interest! You can utilize our producer matching tool at https://www.voyagemedia.com/get-connected to find a Voyage Producer in your market. First you’ll select “book” and then your genre. It sounds like your genres are “Children’s” or “Family” and “Romance.” Let us know if you have any questions!

      Reply
  11. I wrote a book that has been well received–“When Mexicans Could Play Ball” about a high school in the West side of San Antonio in the 1930s to 1946 that had several basketball teams win the state title. while an academic work, it was written in a very readable format–I was a former sports writer–and has been received extremely well and even won an award. it continues to sell and much of the sales are to people who like the human interest and sports angles. I have been told by some friends–a couple of Hollywood actors–that its very adaptable for the screen and I have now developed a screenplay (on fifth draft) that I think is good given my lack of training. What should my approach be?

    Reply
  12. Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds
    me of my previous room mate! He always kept
    talking about this. I will forward this post to him.
    Pretty confident he will have a great read. Thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  13. I have written two books. I would like to receive a preview and learn where to market it.

    Reply
  14. What you wrote makes sense but how do you find a producer? I’ve written 31 books in 4 different genres that have won 29 awards and literary agents not only refuse to read my books they won’t even look at them and I’ve sent out over 500 of them. As far as waiting 10 or 15 years, I’d sign a contract for that because I’m 82. My genre’s are The Starlight Club a mob series (9 books), a science fiction series The Time Traveler (8 books), a western series The Lone Jack Kid (3 books)and a non-fiction Engine 24 fire series. I’m branding my name locally and internationally but that doesn’t always translate into money.

    Reply
  15. Your information is so very much appreciated! Valuable, honest and thought provoking. My book is a personal memoirs of a trusting woman’s survival of shocking betrayal, tragedy and heartbreak. I need a producer who is passionate about true life stories. Thank you in advance for any suggestions though I do have a couple in mind. I will review your archives of information as well. Warm regards

    Reply

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