Most of us (myself included) like to picture the film version of our book before we've finished the first draft. "Who would play your MC in the movie?" is a fun game. We've been raised on TV and movies. My instinct is to always visualize a scene before I write it. Yet like most things in the world of publishing, it's a fantasy followed by a harsh reality. Some books get turned into movies; most do not. It can be frustrating for authors who don't know the film development process. There are countless authors who have been wooed by Hollywood, who have received offers to bring their book to the screen, but nothing ever comes of it. It's frustrating. The world of books and movies are very different. Books get published, but movies get developed.
The first step in bringing your book to the screen is coverage. All books get covered, even the bestsellers. See, in Hollywood, nobody likes to read. So instead of reading the book, they'll read coverage. Coverage is a 2-3-page form that condenses all of the book's necessary elements into an easy-to-peruse format. Coverage varies from place to place, but they are comprised of key elements:
- Book's title and auspices (author, publisher, date of publication, agent, # of pages)
- Logline (one-sentence summary) of the book
- 4-sentence summary of the entire book's plot
- 1-2-page synopsis of the plot
- 1/2-1 page of comments from the reader
- A chart where plot, characters, and writing style are graded on a scale of Excellent-Poor or 1-5 (see example at the top)
- Final recommendation from the reader: Pass, Consider, Consider with reservations, or Recommend
Don't be cry if your book's rights are not bought. Your book may be great, but it may not be marketable. And the film industry's version of marketable is much more stringent than publishing's. Many agents and producers say that they need to visualize the poster before they will produce the script. Cars 2 was made just for merchandising sales. The problem is your book may have some of those tricky "unmarketable" elements like depth, complex characters, or emotional ambiguity. I wouldn't take it personally.
Come back next time for Part 2, where I will discuss what happens if your book is lucky enough to get optioned.