What sells a book to TV / the movies?
Case study: SLOW HORSES
The answer is a million things. But very, very often, the first person to say yes to a book and pass it up the line for studio consideration is the reader, or story analyst. After college, before I sold my first film script, I worked as a reader for a mini-major (film and TV studio). My job was to read books, scripts & news/magazine articles, find the ones my producer bosses would or should be interested in, and write up coverage: a kind of book report telling them why. (Great job—no one told me at nine that I could get paid for reading! Also priceless for learning the business and what I needed to know as a writer to sell my own work.)
Once in a while, not often at all, there would be a book or script that gave me a really specific adrenaline rush. That would make me reach for the phone to tell my bosses, You need to look at this NOW.
Because if it was a weekend read, they would have to offer immediately on the book or script, or risk losing out to another studio.
Once in a while, not often at all, I still get that same adrenaline rush as I’m reading a book. And it’s always really early in the book that you know: This would make a great movie. Or series.
Well, that’s something that’s useful for writers to know, right?
So here’s a perfect example. I was reading Mick Herron’s SLOW HORSES in preparation for a panel I’m on at Left Coast Crime in Albuquerque at the beginning of April (New Mexico! Books! Live people!!!). The TV adaptation of SLOW HORSES premieres this week, too.
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