Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Taking Risks

As authors, we constantly take risks. From the moment we send out our first query to an agent or publisher, we risk them saying no. Once our book is published, we risk readers hating it and getting bad reviews. For some people, these notions can be debilitating and stop them from ever trying. But for some of us, it’s par for the course. No matter who you are, there will be people who love and hate what you do.

We are willing to take the risks because we love to tell stories. And part of loving to tell stories is wanting to see those stories in different mediums, including on the big screen and on TV.

I was thinking about this the other day, and I thought it was rather ironic. The vast majority of us authors would love to see our books turned into movies, and yet, we are always distressed about how movies are nothing like the books, and in a way, inferior. It’s quite amusing to think about.

What I think the real draw of seeing our stories on the big screen is all the money we’d make, especially if we get merchandising rights. No, I’m kidding—although that is probably part of it. I think the real draw is introducing our story to a new audience. It’s seeing how others view our work and what they take away from our worlds. It’s seeing them being inspired by something we created.

Movies and books are two different mediums, and things can be done in movies that can’t be done in books and vice versa. Sure, I compare books and movies all the time, but that’s an unfair comparison—it’s not comparing apples to apples. Now, I try to look at each medium in their respective rights and understand why the director made the choices they made, but it can still be upsetting when I feel the movies stray too far from the book.

Seriously, doesn’t it seem weird that authors would want their books turned into movies at all?

Again, I think it boils down to wanting to share their story.

Authors take yet another risk when their work is made into a movie or TV show. It could be a resounding success or fall completely flat. Audiences could either love it or hate it. But that is the world of storytelling.

I’ve been trying to get my young adult zombie book into the world of movies and TV shows. A few years ago, I pitched Life After the Undead to several different agents and producers. Nothing came of it, but I met an incredibly nice indie producer who gave me some fantastic advice. The most important of which was that zombie movies aren’t selling right now. Producers are steering clear of them, but I didn’t let that dissuade me.


Within the last year, I decided to try my luck at having Life After the Undead adapted for TV. That involved posting my pitch on a site called TV Writer’s Vault. I researched this site for a long time before finally deciding to take the plunge. The reason for my hesitance was the fact that it costs.

As authors, we’re always told that if something costs to do, it’s not worth doing or it’s a scam. I went into this believing that to be true. After reading about the site and asking questions, I still don’t know for sure, but I told myself I had to take a risk. Besides, someone has to fund the site’s overhead and keep it running, why shouldn’t it be us writers?

So far, nothing has come of having Life listed on the site. A couple of production companies have looked at it, but nothing more. I Googled the companies, and they seem legit, so I’m happy they took the time to look over my proposal.

Maybe I’m not getting any action because I’m pitching a zombie show. I will continue to love the zombie genre, but the rest of the world might not. I’m fully aware that producers have to take calculated risks and go after projects that are going to make them money. Personally, I feel like I have more freedom when it comes to being creative because my livelihood doesn’t depend on my work—I get to create just for the sake of creating, and the royalties are a bonus!

By nature, I’m a cynical person. I always think the worst is going to happen, which means when something good happens, I’m usually surprised. But at the same time, I’m well aware that nothing is going to happen with my books unless I take some risks. While the fantasy of a producer stumbling across my book, falling in love with it, and offering me money to make a movie is a wonderful thought, the chances of it happening are slim. The chances of me getting my book turned into a TV show are slim, but they increase slightly by me putting my work out there.

At the end of the day, even if nothing happens, I can at least say I tried. Sure, taking risks is risky, and the potential for something bad to happen increases, but so does the chance of something good happening. I’ll never know which one it will be unless I take a chance.

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