When you write a book you need to prepare yourself for the horny full-court press of Hollywood. Once the word spreads that you have a story a mob of producers will swarm over you like your the waitress at Hooters who is really good with the hoola-hoop. Like old dudes in a nightclub they will compliment you on your tattoos and try to convince you that Steely Dan is cool. They’ll buy you drinks and lavish you with compliments but eventually they’re going to want to show you their old man genitals and that’s when things get really ugly.
The lure of a big budget Hollywood movie or TV show is pretty enticing to writers, especially since many of us can’t make a living doing what we love. So when they come a-calling a lot of us start thinking that we’ve won the lottery. We imagine toys and merchandise money, back end deals, red carpet premieres, and visits to the set. It’s exciting to get phone calls from Brad Pitt’s production company or people who think Jaden Smith would be perfect for your novel about the birth of the Amish movement. You will think that you’ve hit the big time which is what they want you to think.
But you haven’t.
Sorry, I hate to spoil it for you but you’re in the Matrix – none of it is real. Someday you will wake up like Keanu Reeves in all that slimy muck gasping for breath and wondering where the hell you are. How do I know? That’s what happened to me.
But then again, that might have been my prom.
When the Sisters Grimm came out I went through the Hollywood love fest, fielding calls, driving around LA, and having people tell me I was brilliant. Then NERDS came out and I got to do it all over, again. I met amazing producers and a few movie stars and they did a good job of making me feel like I was a king, and I was – the king of cow patties because it amounted to a whole lot of nothing. You see, I don’t know if you’ve heard this before, but people in Hollywood are kinda really great at sort of being bullshit artists. Not that there aren’t some really lovely people out there – sincere, hard working, honest people – I’ve got a few of them working for me – but a lot of them will do anything they can to make sure that they don’t have to pay for their own lunches. Huh? Lunches? What does that mean? Well, you see, the movie and tv business isn’t really about making movies and tv. It’s about getting other people to pay for lunch and everyone out in Hollywood created this entire industry just so they would never have to pay for lunch again. All of those movies and TV shows are just made to justify extravagant salads and sandwiches. Why do you think so many movies suck? It’s because they’re just a means to an end. When your books make the rounds out there you will be eating a lot of those lunches. You’ll go to lunch in Burbank and lunch in Century City and a couple times you’ll go to two or three lunches in the same day. The person who took you to lunch will turn in his or her receipts to their bosses and their bosses will turn in those receipts to the accountant and the accountant will turn the receipts over to the government who will give it all back to them. And what do you get out of all this? The freshman fifteen. But it will be fun.
Unfortunately, after lunch is when you get the let down – there’s not a lot of money in movies and TV.
Oh, there’s money in it but you’re not going to be part of making any of it. Hollywood has all kinds of ways to cut you out of the profit of what you’ve created. I’m not bitter. It’s just true. I blame George Lucas. When he made Star Wars the studio didn’t want the toy rights. As they sat over lunch they couldn’t imagine that kids would want toys based on movies so he kept them and now he’s richer than God. That’s a mistake they won’t be making again. So, don’t expect that you’ll be backing up a Brinks truck when the people from La-La land start dishing out the compliments. You’d probably make more with an app. Still, movies and tv shows are pretty exciting and an app is never going to piss off that girl from high school who kept turning you down for dates? Nope. There is nothing about an app that can be seen as revenge.
So, I find myself back in the thick of it with my YA book Undertow – which I will eventually explain to all of you. It’s a fresh spin on an old story and now I’m swimming in compliments about how “original” my voice is, what a genius concept it is, and how awesome I am with the hula hoop. I’ll let you know if something exciting happens. In the meantime I’m off to lunch but this time I’m going to take full advantage of it and order the lobster.
Sounds like, after lunch is over, you should order a second lobster to go.
Excellent article. I am going through many of these issues
I hope your invited to a lunch that ends in rewarding you for hardwork and creativity. Personally I would love to see you work out a TV deal with Netflix or one of the online studio’s for Undertow. Too much is sacrificed from the original work these days to be put on the big screen. Sad what they did to City of Bones. You should keep licencing rights and work with Todd Mc Farlane on creating an Alpha toy line. Hope to see a book signing scheduled for Orlando FL some time this year ☺