Dear Mistress of the Highest Snarkitude
I'm in the early stages of querying my mystery novel, and a top New York agent is currently reviewing the full manuscript. Meanwhile, an acquaintance of mine recently read my manuscript and gave it glowing reviews. Knowing she'd be too polite to tell me if it sucked, I smiled and moved along. But apparently, she was serious. She's contacted a friend who works for a production company that develops movies for, ahem,well, a women's cable network. This person is now asking for a screenplay based on my novel, which she has NOT read by the way. I have no screenplay, and creating one would take precious time and effort –time I'd allocated to crafting the novel's sequel.I've tried to politely decline this request, but my acquaintance is pushing the issue.
What to do?
-Should I drop everything else to write a screenplay? No
-Am I correct in suspecting the production-company contact is just being polite? Yes
-Even if the interest is genuine, would you advise an unpublished author to pursue this?No
I mean, if the story is "used up" in a made-for-TV movie, will it hurt my chances to have the book published? No Will it piss off my dream agent(s)?Yes
-Am I a snob for wincing at the thought of my masterpiece appearing on a woman's TV network? In the book, the love interest is a delightfully dangerous hottie who owns a gun store. I fear the TV folks would transform him into a first-grade teacher who owns a
little antique shop. Now, I like teachers and antiques as much as the next gal, but my guy's an alpha male, and I like him that way.
- On a scale of one to ten, how paranoid am I? The voices tell me not to worry, but they also suggested I seek your advice.
I'd be eternally grateful for your insight. All of us– me, the voices, and my fictional hottie - send you and Killer Yapp our kindest regards.
First, you have no clue how to write a screenplay and if you think writing a novel was good practice for that, you're wrong.
Second, you don't want to go anywhere near film people without an agent. That industry works on much more stringent rules about what they'll consider (and I think that most legit places require you to register your work before they'll look at it). And, film rights are in important piece of the package for a novel. You write a screenplay, send it off, and you've just made it a LOT harder for an agent to sell film or TV rights. Do NOT do this.
Clearly this friend of yours has badgered her friend at the production company and this is the standard brush off.
What you need to do with this clueless friend is say "thanks for your help. I appreciate it" and STOP talking to her about your novel. Her "helpfulness" does not oblige you to accept it or report back on your progress. Once you're published lots more people will have "helpful" ideas for you. Some of them are good; 99% are not. This is good practice for how to deal with them politely. Respect the intention, but that's it.