Long shots sometimes pay off, and while the odds remain stacked against self-published authors seeing their story on the silver screen, the opportunity may be closer than ever.
“It’s always been difficult for authors to get ideas in front of people in Hollywood,” said Keith Ogorek, senior VP of Marketing for self-publishing service Author Solutions. “There hasn’t been an organized conduit for content and ideas. That’s what we’re committed to: Stories that need to be told in books and also on a screen.”
Ogorek recently announced a partnership that Author Solutions formed with production company Legion of Creatives that will offer “first look” opportunities for self-published writers to score a development deal. Ogorek said it was the third such deal the provider has signed to help find pathways to movie and TV studios.
“We’ve been working to create these partnerships for authors,” Ogorek said of the strategy for indie voices to reach Hollywood ears. Ogorek cited a “book-to-screen pitch fest” that he compared to “speed dating sessions” where authors can, for a fee, hook up with producers. “Opportunities like this didn’t exist before,” Ogorek said. “It’s a tremendously exciting time.”
Known to Happen
What had once seemed beyond the reach of indie writers has instead been worthy of a script themselves when self-published novels struck Hollywood gold, including:
- The Martian, self-published in 2011 by Andy Weir before being picked up by Crown Publishing and developed as a film starring Matt Damon;
- Lisa Genova’s Still Alice, a novel acquired by Simon & Schuster and, as a film, earned an Academy Award for Julianne Moore; and
- Legally Blonde, the 2001 AuthorHouse title that spawned two Reese Witherspoon movies and a Broadway show.
“Hollywood is similar to publishing,” Ogorek said. “It’s taking stories and getting them to the public.” The evolving definition of “screen” being what it is—with the explosion of available platforms and delivery systems—there are more producers than ever in need of stories to tell. The number of scripted series—409—that were produced in 2015 for cable, broadcast and online services such as Netflix and Hulu nearly doubled the 211 shows made in 2009.
Likewise, Ogorek said, movie studios have had to broaden the search for tales to tell, and self-publishing houses have become a regular shopping destination for producers. “We have a relationship with more than two hundred thousand authors,” Ogorek said of Author Solutions’ resources. The Bloomington, Indiana-based platform provider has since its launch in 2007 made more than a quarter million titles available from self-published authors. “Once [Hollywood] realizes there’s a way to find fresh ideas here, why wouldn’t they?”
Previews of Downloadable Attractions
Ogorek said the self-publishing firm has had an office in Hollywood for five years now, and may have found the ideal partner in Legion of Creatives. Billed as an “immersive content” production studio, the company was formed in 2015 by a trio of Hollywood veterans including former Disney executive Jay Williams and actor/comedian Orlando Jones with a goal of specializing in digital-first productions for film, TV and virtual reality platforms.
“Content has expanded so rapidly,” Ogorek said. “They were looking for someone who could help provide them with ideas.” The agreement gives the Legion access to the hundreds of thousands Author Solutions titles under imprints AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Palibrio, Trafford Publishing and Xlibris. Just as Author Solutions had formed to take advantage of digital opportunities, Legion of Creatives was launched with a vision of developing content for the next wave of entertainment, the tsunami-like flood of programming specifically tailored to the newest platforms.
“The first place a title might appear is on a tablet or phone,” Ogorek said. “Therefore you think about how you produce your content differently.”
The year ahead looms promising. Ogorek said he anticipates several more announcements involving Author Solutions titles, both with Legion and other production companies. Earlier this month Ogorek announced that Tweeker Parade—Phillipa LeVine’s memoir of her time on a DEA task force that was published on iUniverse—was signed by 5 More Minutes for TV production.
Ogorek said that the series resulted from Author Solutions’ growing reputation in L.A. “The word is getting out in Hollywood that Author Solutions has a lot of great books coming out,” Ogorek said. “Tweeker Parade came about from a production company seeing a book they really wanted. We made the introduction and the author is taking advantage of it.”
Success stories like this may be a long shot, but sometimes those pay off in big ways.
James A. Mitchell is a veteran reporter and author of four books, including The Walrus & the Elephants: John Lennon’s Years of Revolution and But For the Grace: Profiles in Peace From a Nation at War. You can follow him on Twitter @jamesamitchell3.
James A. Mitchell