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Warren Adler

Ask the Author

Ask a question

Thank you for visiting my Ask the Author Forum! Your questions are greatly appreciated and I am happy to see that so many of you around the world are keeping the art of writing alive and well. It is my pleasure to answer your questions with as much attention as I possibly can and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible.  I apologize in advance if I do not get to your question within 24 hours. I receive a large volume of questions on a daily basis.

My biggest passion next to writing novels is helping aspiring writers like yourselves succeed, however there are some limitations as to the kind of questions and requests I can answer – Inquiries I cannot answer include:

– Requests for manuscript editing/publishing/reviews

– Personal Contacts for entertainment/literary agents

– Pitches and other kinds of queries

– Links to buyers

Websites/Resources I highly recommend –

Self-Publishing Platforms:

Watt Pad Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing Smashwords Book Baby

Agent Databases 

Agent Association | Writers Market Poets&Writers

Highly recommended Industry blogs/services for Screenwriters and Novelists who need direction/feedback on their work

The Producer’s Perspective Author House | Book Hive (For those of you wanting feedback on your manuscripts) Writing-World: “Securing Film Rights to Published Material”

Ask Warren Adler your question now! 

Read all the Questions

Warren Adler, asked:

Hi Jerry,
I recommend having both professionals, an agent and an entertainment lawyer, work with you on handling your contracts and business negotiations.
All the best,

Diana Mitchell, Nashville, TN asked:

Hi, great info on your site. My question: Would a writer need to obtain any legal rights to write/sell screenplay about a bizarre murder of an everyday person that made news headlines. Thanks!

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Diana,

If put within a fictional context, then no.

Julie Csukardi, norwich asked:

How do I share my true story. the day I repented.

Warren Adler answered:

As you know, I’m a big proponent of self-publishing.

Valeria Dominguez, Houston/Texas asked:

Mr. Adler,

I am a college student majoring in film production. I have come across a short story written by a fellow student in a creative writing class. Their story was fantastic and I have reached out to them to ask if I can turn it into an adapted screenplay and off of that, produce a short film. The student agreed and said they would be open to that, however, they want me to come up with a contract that states that the short story is theirs and to give them credit for the original idea of the short, and I guess, if I were to ever make money off of it, that they would too. I’m not at all good with legal stuff. I’ve tried researching a little, I was thinking of drawing up some sort of contract and getting it notorized. But, what is the best way for them to either copyright the story first and then me to come up with a contract? Let me know! Thanks!

Warren Adler answered:

Valeria. that fellow student needs to have their work copyrighted before you do anything with it. I don’t know the extent to which you plan on distributing the final film so I cannot answer as to what the exact parameters of your contract should be – I would consult an entertainment lawyer. But a good reference for a sample contract can be found here:

Mpho Masechaba, Johannesburg asked:


I’ve been writing for years under another name because my African name seems to put a lot of clients off or encourages them to exploit me. Recently, I wrote an e-book so I could sell the publishing rights to either a publishing company or a private client. I managed to do just that … except I got $500 for it. How much should I have asked for and where can I find better buyers next time?

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Mpho, I understand where you’re coming from in terms of choosing to write under a pen name – this is something that is often done by many writers – it is a shame that at this stage in our progress in the writing world people still make judgements based on superficial things like an individual’s name. Congratulations on getting your rights sold to a publishing company. Honestly, as an advance, $500 sounds pretty normal – I have been paid around that and even a little less by certain foreign publishers. You can always try renegotiating but at the end of the day it is up to the discretion of the publisher – hopefully you’re getting a good deal in terms of royalty percentages. I hope this insight helps.

Marquelle Bell, New Jersey asked:

Hey Mr. A!
I am…well call myself a writer and I create movies. (I’m just in high school so don’t worry I’m not some hot shot). My question is basically…if I wanted to turn a bunch of books into a movie or TV show…who exactly would I have to contact? Just the creator?

Warren Adler answered:

Marquelle, thanks for your question and apologies for the delay in my response. There is no exact science or guarantee that you’ll have your work picked up but You’ll have to query literary agents who are plugged into the film/TV industry. Research literary agencies throughout the country and start querying. By the way, I admire your ambition! :-) Enjoy your high school experience and BEST of luck in all of your endeavors!

Audrey clark, Manchester UK asked:

Can you advise on reputable companies with a view to selling my book “Outside Looking In’? Thank you

Warren Adler answered:

Audrey, it really depends on the genre of your work – there are certain literary agencies and publishers that cater to specific genres and would be willing to buy the rights to your book from you – I recommend using Publisher’s Marketplace as a research tool for finding relevant agencies.

Edward Betzel, Detroit Mi asked:

I cannot get into too much detail because of a confidentiality form I signed but I am a regular guy who was lucjy enough to pitch an idea for a show on the Channel’s website and they decided to pick up the show and gave me 7 days to make them an offer of how much I would be willing to sell them the concept for but I have no clue what to ask can you please give me an estimated ballpark range

Warren Adler answered:

Edward, if you’re referring to a good options price then I find it odd that they didn’t throw out the first number. I would have asked them for an estimate before giving a response.

Patricia Angelo, Melbourne Victoria, Australia asked:

Hi, my daughter is a published author who has written a successful series in the Fifty Shades genre. This is an Australian (Melbourne) based story, she has thousands of readers throughout the world that have all requested it should be turned into a film, can you please suggest where a submission can be entered? Thank you, Patricia.

Warren Adler answered:

Hi Patricia,
I recommend your daughter either hiring an agent to negotiate through the sea of production companies or going to production companies directly, which would eliminate agent fees.
All the best,

Ami Dzissah, Yonkers, NY asked:

I have a new book recently published and I think it will be a strong a successful pitch for a movie. what kind of agents do I need to introduce my book to the film industry? thanks.

Warren Adler answered:

“there are both literary agents (who specialize in book publishing) and film agents. Many writers have both. If you have a literary agent, look at your contract and see if the agent gets points for a film sale; if so, encourage her to send your work to a film agent she’s familiar with (the two will split the commission). If you don’t have an agent, it’s fine to query film agents directly. They’re always looking for salable stuff to pitch to Hollywood. Be straightforward in your pitch: Briefly summarize the work to be optioned, where it’s published—or not—and your bio.”

Bryant sparks, Tuscaloosa Al. asked:

How do I get my novel and story to film directors or the film industry

Warren Adler answered:

A good literary agent should have the connections with different forms of media that will help your book become a movie.
All the best,

Jeff Hill, Honolulu asked:

I have published a non-fiction book “Ghosts of ’45: Japan’s War Legacy and National Purpose”, (See Amazon), but I have not had much success with marketing. Those that have read like it a lot. I’d like to update it and find an agent to get a non-self publisher. Do you have any suggestions?

Warren Adler answered:

Hi Jeff,
Reach out to agents that are seeking non-fiction books in particular as opposed to other genres. I recommend having everyone who really enjoyed reading your book write a review on Amazon, which will attract positive energy.
All the best,

Angela Davis, Baltimore, Maryland asked:

Good afternoon, It is a privilege to be able to ask you a question. As a self publisher author of my autobiography . A executive producer for my up coming film based on my book. What are my rights before I sign contracts? If I am not the movie script writer/ director or producer?

What advice can you give me?

Warren Adler answered:

Angela, you retain all rights to your work no matter which kind of contract you sign. Make sure you clearly understand the royalty percentages you’re getting with every contract.

Elizabeth Hacking, Lusaka Zambia asked:

I self published my books in 2006 with Trafford in Canada, they are based in Africa during the time of the missionaries, how do I go about getting my books read just to know whether they are worthy or not? thank you Regards Liz

Warren Adler answered:

Hi Elizabeth,
I would take opportunity of the advantages that the internet provides. Stay current and interactive in forms of social media. This will garner positive energy in regards to book reviews.
All the best,

Angela Lawrence, Sydney Australia asked:

Hi there

I am a published author to a novel that received solid praise,and good reviews in Australia. I’m toying with the idea of pitching it as a movie – as feedback has been that it lends itself to a screenplay.

There’s little point in Australia, as film makers tends to be stuck in an Aussie genre that doesn’t apply to my work.

My questions to you are:
– What advice, if any, can you give me for pitching this in the US?
– Can i pitch using my book along with a synopsis – without writing a screen play?

I know it would be a difficult process, but would be grateful for any advice you can give me.


Warren Adler answered:

Hello Angela, thank you for your question.

If you decide to pitch in the US you must pitch it to a hollywood agent, of which there are many. You can simply write to studios and producers and get them interested in your book. You can pitch using the book/synopsis provided you pitch it to an agent with the connections to present your work to a producer. A screenplay is not necessary at that stage.

ellen henderson, nsw asked:

Hi, i am not an author but i have always been interested in writing, its the one thing that i love to do. I have decided to write my first book. Its in early stages, it has a title and a one page layout of what the book will be about. Can i protect my idea so it is entirely mine? Thank you.

Warren Adler answered:

Ellen. Read about copyrighting your work, specifically as it pertains to writers, here:

Christa, St. Paul, MN asked:

Is it acceptable to inquire/send ARC’s to famous writers or is it considered tacky? (Even if it is just as a gift.)

Warren Adler answered:

Christa, it is perfectly acceptable to send ARCs to famous writers. Usually writers will have it listed on their website whether or not they do reviews. Of course, I wouldn’t have any expectations as to whether or not they will respond.

Cheryl Price, Wheaton/Illinois asked:

I have finished and self-published, a children’s book, entitled Julie at the North Pole. I am interested in getting the story animated, Would this be something a college might do as a project and then as a submission to a film company?

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Cheryl, you couldn’t submit the finished animation to a film company but you could potentially submit it to a number of film festivals.

Dr. Scott Neff, Corcoran California 93212 asked:

Dear Mr. Adler,

Everyone must ask the same stuff, but I think I have a book or two or more in a series that would make great movies. Sci-Fi Action Adventure with a Love Story.

I have self published a book as a Ghost Writer now out of print, a few copies on Amazon the last I checked, but it was related to the funniest, true and most tragic Rail Road accident cases that today I give away for free at under the Little Guy TM, as I own equal parts of the copyright.

But now, out of the blue I wrote a Sci-Fi Action Adventure with a Love Story book and my five friends who reviewed my works in the past love the first book. So I am onto the next but believe I need a Book/Movie agent/Publisher.

Rather then just guessing at who would give me the time of day, do y0u have any recommendations for such matters?

You can find one of my Forensic works sold by, and I had written a book on Criminal Forensic Investigations when I was a Ghost Writer for various AG’s which was kept out of print as it was a product given to FDA or AG’s when I was up for that type of Gig.

Age has brought these new Science Fiction works out of the blue but the same folks I used in the past, as stated above think I have a winner. Second book almost completed.

I deeply apologize for the long note, if you have any ideas before I make a mistake and send to the wrong publisher for my goals, do you have any tips for a solid reliable publisher/agent that would give me the yes or no honestly and not waist all parties concerned time and effort?

I was about to send off to an English publisher I am sure is in vogue but truly have no clue on how to pick the best agent/publisher for my stated goals.

I want to thank you in advance for advice if you have time. At any rate your website has been very helpful.

Best Wishes,

Dr. Scott Neff

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Scott – I am happy to know that you’ve found my website to be helpful to your endeavors! In terms of finding the right agent/publisher for your work, it is always best to read the bios as well as the history of the kind of books particular agents represent. In your case you need to find someone who has a particular interest in science fiction works. We’ve listed a website that has an entire database of literary agents – browse through different listings and try to do as much research as possible on who might actually be interested in your specific genre.

Tim Dewan, Indianapolis asked:

I am intending to submit my first finished novel to literary agents within the next month. My question is should I register a copyright on the work before submission. I am reading that perhaps one can do that, but to not put the (C) as it will look unprofessional to an agent if it is copyrighted. Additionally the professionally edited version would need to be registered anyway. I am reading on many sites to not register the work at the time of submission for those reasons. I am concerned about putting so much hard work out there without a sense of security that registering a copyright would give; however, I do not want to look like an amateur either. I would like your opinion on this.
Thank you for your time,
Tim Dewan

Warren Adler answered:

Tim, you can copyright yourself and I don’t see the need for adding the “c” – When and if the book is published by a publisher they will copyright it in your name. If you self-publish you can copyright as well. I assume you are worried that your book will be purloined. The fact is the idea that is the kernel of your novel cannot be copyrighted and people steal ideas all the time. Frankly its your choice.

Samuel chatman, New york asked:

good morning sir I have a true life story that everyone I’ve talked to in the movie business and in the book business and should be turned into a book to a movie or what I’m confused about the taking their time with this project and well maybe I need to take it to some of the people I have not sign any paperwork but I’ve got a true story maybe you can help me thank you

Warren Adler answered:

Samuel, have you endeavored to actually write the book yet?

Max Vargas, Gainesville, FL asked:

We have just received a highly enthusiastic email (unsolicited) from a major entertainment agency asking to negotiate for film rights on a recent book we published. In this early phase should we hire an entertainment lawyer (in Hollywood?) and when we eventually do, do they work on contingency basis. Our contracts specify a 50-50 split after legal fees author/publisher.

Warren Adler answered:

Max, you should have hired an entertainment lawyer before you allowed yourself to make a 50/50 split with your publisher since the publisher will do nothing to get your book into the movies. Find a Hollywood agent before you even hire an entertainment lawyer at this point.

kelise, london asked:

when a movie is turned into a book does it encourage people to watch the film instead of read the book?

Warren Adler answered:

In my opinion, the movie is advertising for the book.

Maurice D. Sassoon, Los Angeles, CA 90019 asked:

Are there film producers scouting for novels?

Warren Adler answered:

Maurice, while there are indeed producers scouting for good material out there it is always best to actively pitch your story to producers on your own.

Ramona, MA asked:

Dear Warren,
I am fiction writer and a self-published author. I have written a thriller synopsis that I wish to pitch for an international TV series (Instanbul to be exact) I was able to get in touch with a production company via email and they suggested I go there in person to meet with the producers , meanwhile they have not read the synopsis yet. The person who contacted me mentioned that it would be easy for anyone to steel my work. I think he meant if I send the synopsis via email it might not be protected. In this case, should I ask them to cover my travel expenses just so I could go and present the synopsis in person? Thanks.

Warren Adler answered:

Ramona, they likely will not cover your transportation cost, still, it can’t hurt to inquire. You might want to consult a copyright lawyer before sending your work out.

Melissa Clark, Kansas City, KS asked:

I think my editor stole my writing content and may have sold it? what can I do. How can I know for sure?

Warren Adler answered:

Melissa, that is a tough one. You may need to find yourself an entertainment lawyer…did you sign a contract with your editor? If so refer to it and see what kind of rights you have.

DiVitto, Hollywood, FL asked:

Hi Mr. Adler. I have a novel published through a small horror publisher. The book, Seal Cove, has been selling well and garnered good reviews so far. My site is I’d love to see it made into a film. My publisher says I have free reign to do what I want so I guess the next step is trying to find a film agent? Thanks for your help. Take care.


Warren Adler answered:

DiVitto, I’m happy to hear that you are having luck with Seal Cove – Congratulations! A website I can recommend for starting your film agent quest is this one:
Keep up the hard work and may lady luck be with you!

candace stclair, Grundy, va. asked:

I did a show on destination america channel called a haunting. They said my story was so unusual and with the evidence I had plus I own all rights to the story that I needed to try for a book or movie deal.but I live in a small town and have no idea how to make his happen. They gave me evergreen medias info but I just left a message I don’t think they accept anything unsolicited. And they mentioned hiring a ghost writer and something about amazon.All I want is to secure some kind of finical future for my kids to have something good come out of everything we have been through.So where do I start any advice is appreciated thanks.

Warren Adler answered:

Candace, it seems like you either need to find yourself a literary agent or go the self-publishing route through Amazon’s self-publishing program – get your book out there and see what kind of reception you get from the public. Here is Amazon’s self-publishing site: This is just one of several other self-publishing platforms to make use of.

Charlotte, Philippines asked:

My ya novel, scar, has been offered a book contract from a small press. we’re still negotiating with book contract, and so i want to ask if agents would accept my other book(blind tails) even if in the future my other book, scar is contracted with a small publishing press. would there be a conflict? should i sign the contract or not

Warren Adler answered:

Charlotte, good question: It is perfectly fine to have two agents, even more. In fact some authors require more than one agent to cater to their different genres. I don’t see any conflict – here is a good reference website: t

Maria Remark, Illinois asked:

Hello, Mr Adler.
My friend wrote autobiography and he wants to sell film rights. He would like to hire an agent so can you please tell me something about standard fee for agent. Thank you!

Warren Adler answered:

Generally 10 perfect of earnings on the sale of film rights.

Magua Caballero, Claremont, CA asked:

I wrote a book and someone what to do an opera based on the story. I need help with finding a template to memorialize whatever agreement comes out of it. Are there standard contracts out there?
What is the normal cut the composer would get if it makes money? What is the cut of the author? Is it a joint venture and the profits get split?
Thank you

Warren Adler answered:

Magua, there are not many standard contracts out there in the pubic domain for you to refer to but an ideal contract would allow for a 50/50 split between composer and author. I would try finding an entertainment lawyer and running it by them for an authoritative opinion.

Rishi Choudhary, Orlando, Florida asked:

Ok hi, I love writting, and I have been trying to write a book for 2 years now. I am almost finished, and i would like to publish. MY question is: how do you find a publisher? Do you send it through the mail? And also could I use pop culture names like Taylor Swift in my book?

Warren Adler answered:

Rishi, thanks for your question. You need to think twice before using a celebrity name in your work. You can potentially get sued so it is better to err on the side of safety. If you’re making a casual reference to a celebrity it is probably okay but use discretion.

Ron Britton, Spring Valley asked:

How much should I paid to have a script written from my book

Warren Adler answered:

Ron, it really depends on the screenwriter you’re working with and how they are represented. Minimum salaries for union screenwriters are set by the Writers Guild of America. Non-union screenwriters may write for free; an established screenwriter may write for millions of dollars.

Deborah, Los Angeles California asked:

I copywrote my lifestory in Librabry of Congress in 1990. I later co wrote with a writer. Do I still own the copyright even though years have passed and I added tose years with her to the story

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Deborah, If your book is copywritten by you it will last 70 years after your death.

Sehra Waheed, asked:

What is the selling price of a non-fiction book rights to a movie producer?

Warren Adler answered:

Sehra, depending on how desired the book is, it can go as high as the millions. It really all depends on who is doing the buying and how established they are.

Sehra Waheed, New York asked:

how much do I ask for upfront when selling my book rights to a producer?

Warren Adler answered:

Sehra, in today’s world you will be lucky to get a producer who will give you anything more than 5K (if that) unless your book is a worldwide bestseller.

Joni Gunn, Denver, Colorado asked:

I wrote a children’s book , “Santa’s Wedding”, who can I approach about making it a movie?

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Joni! The title of the book makes the rest sound interesting! I’d like to hear what it is. About for making it a movie, you must start researching. Also asking around to people you know might help as well. I am sure you know someone in the biz!

Eugene Tim Ynclan, Huntington Beach Ca. asked:

I have a great childrens story animation. How can I get Disney to check it out? I know it will be a wonderful, loveable movie. Tim
Hope to hear from you soon.

Warren Adler answered:

I have been getting several questions about animated films. I have never been made into an animated film and therefore, sadly, have no experience in that field. However, I do know something about films. If you are passionate about your work, go and do the work for yourself. Find an agent, or someone who might be able to help you and be adamant about your work’s place in culture.

Brenda Brooks, Washington, DC asked:

what effective procedures are needed to approach a children’s network to create a children’s book into a weekly cartoon series. I don’t want my characters or storylines in my books taking-on a “silly” or “cartoonish” effect (if you can realize what I am saying). I want the shows to have a wholesome presentation and feel, as Dora the Explorer or some other show along that line. Many thanks for your help.

Warren Adler answered:

Brenda, as far as what you desire for the portrayal of your characters, I have to say that oftentimes authors do not get a say in the end result as it is up to the people doing the adaptation. I did not get a lot of say in the adaptation of THE WAR OF THE ROSES and especially not RANDOM HEARTS – it is the nature of the beast that is books to film/TV. Many networks will not accept unsolicited pitches so your best bet is to find an entertainment agent who is plugged in with such networks – they will handle all technical procedures when it comes to approaching networks.

Savannah Cox, asked:

Hiya, why do audiences try to find evidence for a novel to be better than a movie?

Warren Adler answered:

Very often, the novel is better. That being said, it really shouldn’t be any other way. The novel is what makes the film and without it no one would be entertained. Except those people who read the novel originally. Those people are not interested in enjoying an mere hour of entertainment. In my research, I have found that people have more often than not torn apart film adaptations for the sake of preserving the novel’s story. I also think that this generation of technology leads people to say things that they might not say to people in person. The Internet allows for everyone to have an opinion and even if you don’t agree with them, you don’t have to respond. Have faith in your passions and if someone is trying to argue that your favorite novel was much better presented on the silver screen, then that is their opinion. Remember, you have to do the typing for your words to be heard.

Michelle Areaux, Nicholasville, KY asked:

Hello, I am a new author and my YA paranormal mystery novel, Wicked Cries, is selling on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. My questions is, how did you submit your novels to be made into feature films or television series? I have searched literary agents, but because I am published through a small publishing company (not self-published), many decline. Any advice or tips? Thank you so much,

A seventh grade language arts teacher,

Michelle Areaux

Warren Adler answered:

As I am independently published, I have a lot of experience in this subject. You must reach out more. I understand that it seems like it takes months and months for ideas to come to fruition but I assure you: it is all part of the job. If your agents are not helping you enough, start doing your own research. You won’t get in trouble, I do it all the time. But just be careful. Don’t make deals on your own. Just reach out to people around you or push your agents to do more. If you need help, there is always someone who can help you. I took a look at your book on Amazon and congratulations on the 5 Star reviews! It is just the beginning (I see it was just recently published). So be patient.

I.G. Orozco, St.Louis, MO asked:

Hello! I hope I can ask another question…. right now a producer is receiving my novel to review it. My publicist is normally in contact with the producer’s representatives, and they said that they are hoping for the Producer’s feedback soon. From your experience, how long is “soon” to them? Is there a good chance for my book to get optioned, or is it still 50/50 percent chance? I’m actually just fifteen years old, so I’m new to the book selling and film business. :)

Mathilda Cobain, Tbilisi asked:

How can I get to Hollywood?Why I can’t make success of life?I wanna do me job.

Warren Adler answered:

Mathilda, if I knew the answer to this question then I would likely be a billionaire.

“Mizuki Ukitake”, Marysville asked:

I’m an aspiring novelist who dreams of getting a book made into a movie. However, I’ve seen a lot of films be misdirected from the book itself, thus ruining the name of both the film and novel. Is there a way I can regain control when/if my book is made into a film, to keep directors from turning, for example, my male with brown hair that has a dark red highlight in the Sun, to a man who has dark brown hair that almost looks black, or from leaving out important scenes in preference for sexual content.

Warren Adler answered:

Mizuki, great question and great topic. Unfortunately authors have very, very little control over what the producers and directors do when they adapt your work. I had an experience with “Random Hearts” where the occupation of one of my main characters was changed to something completely different. This is the reality of the movie business.

Victoria dill beck, ravenna ohio 44266 asked:

my story is so different then today’s movies

Warren Adler answered:

What makes you think so?

I.G. Orozco, MO asked:

What does it mean when a Film Producer’s manager and publicist is interested in your book and is going to have the Producer review your book? In their minds, what does it mean for a Producer to review your work?

Warren Adler answered:

This is a great thing – it means they’re clearly taking interest in your story and might potentially want to option your work for a film adaptation

Midge Newth, SPRING HILL asked:

I am a self published writer of children’s books. One of my books The Adventures of Odonata the Dragonfly has gotten rave reviews and more then several people have told me it would make a great Disney or Pixar Movie. I was wondering, how does one approach Disney or Pixar to see if they would be interested in making my book into a movie?

Warren Adler answered:

There are both literary agents and film agents. Many writers have both. If you have a literary agent, look at your contract and see if the agent gets points for a film sale; if so, encourage them to send your work to a film agent she’s familiar with (the two will split the commission). If you don’t have an agent, it’s fine to query film agents directly. They’re always looking for salable stuff to pitch to Hollywood. Be straightforward in your pitch: summarize the work to be optioned, where it’s published—or not—and your bio.

Jemel Jones, Grifton NC asked:

When a producer ask you how much notice you need what does that mean?

Warren Adler answered:

Jemel, it varies depending on the circumstances and what is being discussed but generally it refers to how much time before some event takes place is needed to inform (or warn) somebody of a cancellation or some other change of plan.

Ruach Gloria Parker-Dior, England asked:

I wrote and published a children’s book in Ghana West Africa and would like to make an animated version of it. How do I go about the adaptation process

Warren Adler answered:

Sadly, my knowledge of the animated film market is slim. I will however offer you this advice: send it out, but do not lose faith or passion in your work. You have the power to control what happens with it and if you aren’t careful you could risk it being lost in the midst of everything else. I wish you luck and hope you have continued faith in your craft.

Kacie Paduano, Liberty, Tx asked:

I was inquiring if the book “The Wind Blows Backward” by Mary Downing Hahn could possibly be make into a movie? I have read it more than once and fell I love with the story line. The whole time I was reading it I pictured it as a movie in my head. Thank you for your time.

Warren Adler answered:

Kacie, it is certainly possible but depends not only on whether or not you can find the funding to make it happen, but, most importantly, if you can manage to get into contact with the party who owns the rights to “The Wind Blows Backward” and get their approval.

Debra thurn, San clemente asked:

My grandmother published a book in 1960 with copyright atfredrich muller limited can I buy the rights and have it republished she is diseased

Warren Adler answered:

Thank you for your comment! It seems as if this is a legal matter. I would advise garnering some legal counsel and attempt to fight for the rights. After that, you will have to find a publisher and who knows, the prestige and nostalgia of the book might assist in its publication.

Debra thurn, San clemente asked:

I have book written by my grandmother is no longer in publication can I get it published

Warren Adler answered:

Heirs of an author usually always have the right to republish work

Warren Adler answered:

Debra, you can certainly have it re-published but you’d likely have to go the self-publishing route. Do a search for self-publishing platforms and research which one would work best for you.

Graeme Oxendale, Vancouver, BC asked:

You mentioned in an answer to a previous question (how long before a short story becomes public domain) that in the US, it was 70 years after the authors death. Are there any instances where that’s not true? Can the authors heirs renew copyright?

Carolyn Brown, asked:

I recently wrote a children book of
poems and made a cd along with it.
My question is ,,,How do I market both?

Warren Adler answered:

Carolyn do as much research as you can on self-publishing platforms and choose the one that is right for you – there are a lot of free platforms. Once it is out there and available for public consumption make sure you are creative about reaching out to the write people in your book’s niche category and start networking with them for reviews, interviews, etc.

Ava Maffeo, Boston/Massachusetts asked:

Hello, I’m starting a new production company on my own that I plan on funding myself (this will be my first foray into films) my question is I read a book that I loved and want to turn the book into my first project how do I go about securing rights to the book? Please answer when you can. Thanks in advance

Warren Adler answered:

I wish you the best of luck for you and your future clients! But first things first…

Here is an article I found that goes through all the initial steps in securing the rights to a book, as well as information about what to do after.

Good luck!

Donna Ketchbaw, Fredericksburg, Tx. asked:

Mr. Adler, I have a published fiction novel that I want to market for a film or TV production. Below you answered part of my question to Mr. Rahman regarding having a screenplay prior to locating an agent, but I have no idea how to locate a film agent for my book. The internet is full of names, but how do I know they are reputable?
Thank you for your advice.
Donna Ketchbaw
Author: Savannah’s Choices

Warren Adler answered:

Donna, good question – it seems like you’ve managed to at least find a database of agent names. Narrow down your choices of film agents to a select few and familiarize yourself with the people they have represented in the past and who they are currently representing – this is the best measure for determining whether or not an agent is reputable and also whether or not they actually have an interested in the specific subject-matter that your novel deals with.

Farrah Mohammed, Mamchester/England asked:

I am currently doing a dissertation about film adaptation of books and would like to ask you a couple of questions and see your point of view. This would help me greatly

Warren Adler answered:

I do hope this has not reached you too late. I would love to answer your questions.

Wilhelm King, Philippines asked:

Hello Warren, i’m actually a first time writer and i’ve just finished 100 pages. i’m just wondering if you can be a firstreader to my book?

Warren Adler answered:

Wilhem, thanks for visiting the forum and I am glad to hear that you are writing! Unfortunately, I do not have the capacity to read manuscripts and submit thoughts but I strongly recommend reaching out to supportive friends and family who could offer you meaningful insight on what you have written thus far.

Morgan Reed, New Jersey asked:

Hello Warren Adler,
I want to become an author and think it is fun to write. These are my questions:
1. Why do you write?
2. Do you write an outline, or do you just write and see where the story takes you?
3. How do you publish books?
4. What genre do you make your books?
5. Why did you want to become a writer
6. Which writers inspire you?
7.When you write, do you work on it all the time, like every single day?
8. Do you get writer’s Block?
9. Do you have someone illustrate your book covers?
10. Is there any personal qualities I need to be successful at this job?

Warren Adler answered:

1. I write because that is what I love to do. It is more than a passion. I get up every morning and write and have been doing so since I was in my teens. I write not because it comes easy to me, however, but rather because I find it beautiful to be able to show the complexity of a story.

2. I have written outlines. They are quite helpful especially in terms of character and plot. There is no better way to see where a story will go. That being said, I have on occasion just written and seen where it took me. This is healthy.

3. I am an independently published author but I do use the expertise of certain publishing outlets so that my work maintains its original qualities.

4. I have written everything wrong political thrillers to comedic plays.

5. It is not really that I wanted to become a writer but more that I knew I would be one.

6. Stendhal’s “The Red and the Black” is one of my favorites.

7. Yes. Like clockwork. Every morning, 9 – 5. It is my job.

8. I haven’t truly suffered from writer’s block. I always let my mind flow with ideas and write down everything. A lot of my work is based off of true events and my life has been anything but boring. There is something to write in everything.

9. I work with a team to create the best cover. It is a team effort.

10. Perseverance and patience. If you don’t have the ability to keep yourself proud of your work then you should not be writing. You say you think it is fun to write but you should think it is FUN to LOVE WRITING! It is more than just thinking, it is feeling, it is being, it is knowing that your words are meant to be read.

Thank you for your questions!

carletha oliver, largo, md asked:

What are the top three websites that producers utilize to find self- publishing author’s books to turn into a movie? Particularly, books that fictional, family and community focus.

Warren Adler answered:

This is a nebulous question. There is no right or wrong answer for this one.

However, here is an article that might insight a few tidbits to help you.

Crystal Patino, Hoboken, New Jersey asked:

I have to write a letter to a production company as to why a certain book should become a movie and im not quite sure how to start the letter. Please help me thank you for your time.

Warren Adler answered:

Hello! Thank you for your comment. The first and most important elements that need to be addressed are characters and plot. You might have a general idea of the theme but how do those characters act within that construct? It is all about the delivery. Start with your character and describe their personality. Then you should talk about the plot and how the character is part of it. It sounds simple but it is not always easy to separate the two. Good luck!

Ed Parker, Redlands, CA asked:

Do you think that sending an audio book version of your writing would increase the possibility that it would be heard and considered by a potential agent or producer?

Warren Adler answered:

Anything helps. If you have the time and effort to put forth for that project, I fully condone it. It will also be less money in the future (if the audiobook is good) for your agents and publishers to not have to hire someone else to read it. Also, I feel it is much more personal when the author reads their own work.

Callum Bosbury, asked:

i was wondering if i were to give my manuscript to an agaent then they were to distribute that manuscript to a publisher would i still be able to have a say in what happens to my story because i heard that i may not be able to have any say in it at all and actually the publisher and the agent are the ones who get to decide.

Warren Adler answered:

Callum, great question! 9 times out of 10 it is true that the agent/publisher will have a strong say in what parts of your book should be kept/omitted/changed but they MUST necessarily consult with you first before making any actual moves and it is ultimately up to you whether or not you will agree/disagree with their suggestions. It’s all a bit murky and the final outcome of those discussions requires a lot of patience on both ends – but just know that you do have agency in these matters. Book to film/TV is a different story and you may find that you have no say in that creative process.

William L Sullivan Sr., Columbus, Ohio asked:

I am the owner of intellectual property that consist of (3) copyrights. I wrote to BET Networks a Viacom Company, and gave them 1st choice to purchase to purchase hem. I sent them documents and pictures to prove my ownership. They replied “Intellectual Property must be submitted by an agent to the BET legal department and sent my information back to me. What kind of an agent are they referring too? Thank You

Warren Adler answered:

It sounds like they are trying to make sure your work goes through all the right offices. Their legal department is probably in charge of contracting and making sure that your work is your work and should you want to keep it that way, they have options. Don’t be disheartened. Just make sure you read everything and perhaps have someone to assist you in doing so. Good luck!

Kenneth Butler, Portsmouth, NH asked:

I have written five screenplays — two optioned, one purchased but never filmed. My first novel was just published, but I actually have to agent. Would I be better off adapting my very movie-friendly book into a screenplay myself?

Warren Adler answered:

This is a question that has answered itself. You might as well attempt writing the screenplay yourself. If you are truly passionate about your work, you might want to show that dedication. Having things laid out on the table always helps with a writer’s credibility and developing their skill set. However, be wary that should the films be optioned and put into development that you might not have all the strings to pull in your hands.

nadhem azhad, Dehiwala asked:

hi Warren adler, I’m from Sri Lanka I would like to share my story with you…
its an imaginative story… so would you like to accept it ?

Warren Adler answered:

While I am always willing to support fellow artists, I must say that I cannot. If I were to do so for one person, after saying “no” to others, it would not be fair. I will offer advice and support, but nothing so specific.

dorothea joyce, Mount Shasta, CA 96067 asked:

I have written and self published a 3 book trilogy, and 2 books I have written an innovative approach for full length animation to raise consciousness/ w music. I am an award winning songwriter/producer. I have spent the last 10 years creating a Vision. (71 years young). All art, music, writing, creative marketing© also w WGA, NY. After having to live this to write this, I need a seasoned person who will honor my work and watch my back. Where are the people that are more than the $ and want to create a shift in consciousness. It’s hard to get to anyone or make a phone call w/o a contact. Help please.

Warren Adler answered:

In response to both of your comments: First of all, it is always lovely to see a fellow artist who has independently crafted their work. I visited your website and I am quite impressed in the amount of content you have! That is the sign of a prolific artist. I commend you for your patience and your determination. As for offering the services needed to help you reach a larger audience, I am unable to assist on that regard. I do apologize for this but I will give you this advice: The internet is our friend. Sure, it is filled with a lot of unhelpful things but for the most part, it is a saving grace when it comes to the world of publishing and connectivity. I advise you do a little research that pertains to your needs. There is someone out there who will have the resources to help you. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors and urge you to continue to stay young!

willie holloway, poplar bluff missouri asked:

I would like to have my book adapted into a movie it is an autobiography it’ about 48 page long and would like to know your price thank you very much.

Warren Adler answered:

Unfortunately, I am not in the business of adapting the work of other artists. Reach out to an agent or perhaps someone you know who might know someone else if you want to find the help you need. Good luck!

Michelle Newell, Sauk Village, Illinois asked:

How did you submit your book to producers, or did they come to you?

Warren Adler answered:

I had the good fortune of being approached for the adaptation of my novel “The War of the Roses.” If you are willing to wait, it is truly the luck of the draw. But if you are ambitious, you can always option it to people yourself. It takes perseverance and passion in your work to get things going.

Lola papion, Houston Texas asked:

Is it proper English to say … Have you been published in a movie or a book.

Warren Adler answered:

I believe the phrase is, for books, “Have you been published?” or, for film, “Have you been in a movie?”

Thank you for your question!

Marshawndrea Bradford, Ohio/Youngstown asked:

Hi I have a passion for writing My writings includes real life evens, my night mares in also topics that just come to mind, I love writing just need help along the way.

Warren Adler answered:

Well, a passion is where it starts. You just need to stick to something and write it and then you can option it to those who might be able to help you. Good luck in your passion!

Bernard, Nairobi asked:

Hey Adler..I just finished writing my book and wanted to find out from you the possibility of selling the rights to a publisher or a movie producer whichever come s first…what are the advantages /disadvantages…

Warren Adler answered:

I can honestly say that when searching for a literary publisher, there is no disadvantage. The advantage is that you’ve written a book and it has the option to be published.

Generally, the book would have to be published before a film is even put to question. I suggest finding a literary agent who can help you send your work to publishers for optioning.

For now, stick with the literature. If a film is really necessary, it will happen when it does.

joshua bennett, new york asked:

a person who adapts a book is called what?

Warren Adler answered:

Well, an adapter but if you want to get technical, it would be a screenwriter or a producer. Or both.

joshua bennett, new york asked:

a person who adapts a book iss called what?

Warren Adler answered:

A Screenwriter

Phillip Allen, Lancaster,ca asked:

I wrote two movies and how do I get them published are, get to do a interview to submit them to someone that’s interested.

Warren Adler answered:

These days it is an excellent idea to develop/produce your film through the indie route – if you’re happy with the final product you can submit your movie to various film festivals both within the U.S and abroad and see who might be interested in screening it. There are submission fees but it is well worth the cost if you are to make any kind of step in the right direction. I can easily tell you to find yourself an entertainment agent – a quick google search will supply you with entire databases, but many times it is quite difficult to get your query noticed. Good luck with your endeavors.

Crystal Hall, Saskatchewan asked:

Hello, Warren Adler
I’m currently writing my first novel and would love your input about how I should go about getting it recognized to become a television series. Would it be best to get it published into a book first or could I still get it acknowledged by the right people with out it?
Crystal Hall

Warren Adler answered:

I advise writing the book first. Having source material gives a future adaptation a certain credibility. On the other hand, WRITE THE NOVEL! Nothing is more pure and meaningful to me than a full sentence.

Neah Myah Lewis, Bitely asked:

How much does it cost to turn your newly published book into a movie?

Warren Adler answered:

It normally does not cost the author anything. If it does, fire your publicist.

MH Rahman, India asked:

Hello Warren,

I have published my debut novel- a UK-based thriller, HALF LIFE, and it turned into a top-seller on a website called Newshunt. Being an Indian, I don’t know how to sell my film-rights to any producer outside India (US or UK). Do I have to turn it into a screen-play before approaching any literary agent or producer? Could you suggest something to me?

Read some chapters:


More reviews:

Looking forward to a ray of hope!

MH Rahman

Warren Adler answered:


You do not need to turn your work into a screenplay before approaching a literary agent or producer. Usually the agent or producer will have connections to writers who can adapt your work or you may work collaboratively with your agent to adapt it yourself.

Margaret Mitchell Griffin, Fort Collins asked:

I have self published a book titled, FUTILE WARNINGS, the true and chilling story of my father’s murder in Fort Collins, Colorado in 1984.
How would I go about getting it optioned for film?
Thank you for your time.
Margaret Mitchell Griffin

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Margaret, you need to find a literary agent who can help you get published by a major publishing house. This increases the likelihood of success for turning your book into a movie.

Clare, South africa asked:

Hi Warren,

My name is clare and I’m from south africa. I wrote a book that’s based on my true life story. This is a book for teenagers based on daily challenges that they face (suicide and teenage pregnancy).

My book was self published, however, I would like to get my message across to the youth of today, and my dreams is to assist teens that are facing similar situations as the ones that I faced when I was young. I would really like to make a movie of my book or to find someone that can help me get my message across the globe, as I strong believe that I can make a difference in the next persons life.

I currently have a brand and a book that works hand in hand, is there maybe advise that you can give me or maybe guide me on how I can approach movie companies or media for that matter to get my book acknowledged as well as my brand.

This is about making a difference and I would really be grateful if people can assist me to make my dreams come true.

Looking forward to hearing from you.


Warren Adler answered:

Your book sounds inspiring. Refer to this website for tips on submitting queries to film agents:

Mrs. Patel, boston I wantmass asked:

I want to publish a religious book which is from my experience and future predictions. you can help?

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Mrs.Patel. Your best bet is to first and foremost try to find yourself a literary agent who may be interested in helping you to promote your work. I am a big proponent of self-publishing and have been doing so for a while now. Research self-publishing platforms, get out there and find a passionate niche that enjoys the topic your book covers.

Susan Murdoch, Taos, NM asked:

Greetings Warren, I have a children’s book coming out soon, “Iwogs Adventures in Bully Blues.” I wrote it and illustrated it, and the characters are my creation. It is being published by a small publishing company and I will receive royalties from the book. I have almost competed the adapted screenplay based on the book, with the characters in the book. The book is copyrighted, but do I need to take additional measures to protect the story, characters, and screenplay? Any information would be greatly appreciated in helping me protect my creation. Thank you.

Warren Adler answered:

Susan, your best bet is to find yourself a lawyer who deals with intellectual property. Although the fact that you’ve got a copyright on the book should suffice.

babu subramaniam, Los Angeles, CA asked:

Am working with a screenwriter to develop a screenplay using a non-fiction work to which I have also secured an option on. I am unsure at this time how of the book’s info will be used for the screenplay. What kind of credit would the author of the nonfiction work be entitled to? thanks for your help.

Warren Adler answered:

It all depends on how the contract with the publisher reads. If the publisher has been granted the movie rights, the publisher makes the decisions. If the author retains the rights it is the author who makes the decisions.

Michael Sion, Reno, NV asked:

Mr. Adler. I recently edited a novel for a client who wishes to pitch the book to the movie industry. She’s gotten rave reviews from newspaper reviewers and book bloggers, so even though the book is self-published, it’s a good read. I’ve written a nine-page synopsis to use in a movie pitch. Please let me know how to find the right agent or entertainment attorney to represent the book to movie-production companies. (Any in particular whom you can recommend? Or is there a good data base listing these reps?) Thank you VERY MUCH!

Warren Adler answered:

Wow, a nine-page synopsis for the movie pitch seems a bit long – brief and concise always wins when it comes to pitches. Make sure your pitch is no more than one page. This database is straightforward and helpful for tracking down agents and production companies:

Shannon M. Wagoner, Hillsboro.Ohio asked:

I have an absolutely incredible real life story that I have considered far too valuable to make any hasty decisions,in regards to approaching sharks in hollywood.I just know It would be a blockbuster hit because of its unique nature alone.Just need advice if it would perhaps be better to sell rights directly to producers..Or to take the route of writing a book.I would greatly appreciate any helpful advice.Thank-you very much for your time,I greatly look forward to any pearls of wisdom that you may wish to share.On a sidenote I am very serious about moving forward with ‘my story’as I have been considering this for over 10 years.Thank- you for your time and attention to this matter,Sincerely,Shannon Wagoner

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Shannon, You can’t possibly get any attention for your work without finding an agent in Hollywood who believes that your material will make good movies. But remember what you consider good movies is not what they consider good movies. To them good movies have to attract ticket buyers. That is their only criterion. ~ Warren Adler

Adella, Memphis TN. asked:

how does your company work ? I am looking for a professional publishing company that will Publish, Market, and do what It takes to launch my book s for me as I’m paid from my Royalties.,are you that company.

Warren Adler answered:

Stonehouse exclusively publishes my collection of 40+ novels. Your best bet is to hunt down a literary agent who would be interested in giving you representation and connecting you with a big publisher.

George A. Nyktas, hamilton asked:

I wrote a novel that was published. Like every other author, I am interested in making it into a movie. Would you have any recommendations as to agencies or agents that would be interested in exploring the book’s potential? My story is called The Wailing Wall; a Law Student’s Journey into Deception, Corruption and Redemption.

Warren Adler answered:

George, how exactly was your book published? You will inevitably have to find yourself a Hollywood agent or even explore smaller indie producers. This is a good site for offering further insight into the process:

Susan Cronk, Maryville, MO asked:

I self-published a true-crime book in 2013. I believe the story would make a great film. I am curious what the first step is in submitting the book to someone for consideration?

Warren Adler answered:

Hello Susan, You have to find a Hollywood agent who believes your material is sellable. It is a tough arduous process. The marketing of a speculative screenplay without an agent is really hard. That does not mean it can’t be done.

Alysia L., Los Angeles, CA asked:

Hello Mr. Adler,

I am an actress and I am very passionate about a great play I’ve been working on in my acting class for a couple years now. I’d like to gain the rights to adapt part of it into a short film and later the entire story into a feature. The writer is alive and I’ve found his agent’s contact info. My question is what are the best practices on approaching a writer/a writer’s agent for an option to adapt a piece of work for screen? Is it possible to read a great letter of interest you received? Also, how much should I offer? The play is published by Samuel French. Does that affect who I contact?

Warren Adler answered:

You should certainly contact the writer’s agent with a brief query posing your interest in the material. In terms of the amount you want to offer, Publishers weekly has a column which talks about rights and what people have paid. They have a web site and should have an archive. It is not uncommon for people to option a book for a very small amount of money. If the author is hungry or desperate enough or thinks you can put it together he might go for it. There are no averages. It is highly unlikely that an agent would go for a low option amount.

Benjamin Lucas Carson Hubbard, Edmonton/Kentucky asked:

Dear Mr. Adler

A friend of mine and myself started a small production company because we love to make films. I was considering turning one of Edward Gorey’s short stories into a short film. Since he has only been dead since the year 2000, i was wandering what would be some copyright issues i would have to deal with? I await your reply with much appreciation. Thanks


Warren Adler answered:

Benjamin, chances are that Gorey’s copyright will last 70 years beyond his death. Check with his estate to give or sell you the rights.

T. Anthony, Birmingham, UK asked:

I have recently been offered a publishing contract. My only concern is that the publisher is stating that I would no longer own the rights of the book if it is adapted for film/tv. There is, however, a clause that it can only be sold to a company/project which I approve.

Is this right? It feels like I’d be losing control of my intellectual property?

Warren Adler answered:

If you give away your film rights you are short changing yourself financially and the chances of your gaining any control over your property is nil. On the other hand the publisher may be a great promoter with the connections to get your book into a film adaptation, especially if you have no agent. Either way you will have trouble exercising any real control even if you have a hide bound contract. Having approval is a plus, but that doesn’t mean you will have a film since getting a book to film is at best a long shot.


J.M. Barnes, Dallas, TX asked:

I have inherited the film rights to a world famous, best selling (on Amazon) science fiction novel. While I realize the worth of the property is only what a studio is willing to pay, I’m wondering what is a good starting point in the negotiations? I’m not interested in back-end royalties, ancillary merchandising, or alternate distribution modes, but rather a 1 price, get it over with deal. Is $5 million totally absurd? $3 million? Are there other avenues to explore outside the Hollywood morass?

Warren Adler answered:

I would suggest you find a Hollywood agent who is willing to negotiate a deal. Before you start counting numbers you had better see if the interest matches your expectation.


James Repshire, dgerton, Kansas asked:

First, is there an expiration on copyrights, and if so, who owns the rights to the book at that point?

Warren Adler answered:

The new copyright laws I believe let an author and his heirs own the copyright for 70 years after his death. Then it becomes public domain available for use by anyone. I think this required some renewal on the part of the author. It is quite easy to check that with the copyright office. If the author is dead his heirs might be willing to sell you the rights for a modest sum.

James Repshire, Edgerton, Kansas asked:

Completely by accident, I recently stumbled on to an obscure book that was published more than 40 years ago. I have never heard of the book. Before I get to the question I would bequest of you; please don’t insult my intelligence by stating the obvious. My question is, because the book is obscure and the research I have done on it so far suggests it is “unknown and unheralded,” is it possible to buy movie rights that can then be re-sold to a Hollywood agent or producer?”

I realize the obvious answer is that if the book is obscure there is likely a reason for it and it will probably remain obscure. That’s not my question. The question is: Can I, as an individual, buy the rights to a published book and then resell them?”

Thank you.

Warren Adler answered:

Absolutely you can purchase these rights from the author or his heirs and resell them.The problem is finding out who owns the book and if it is still in copyright. It is done all the time. It has nothing to do with age or obscurity, only with legal rights. Many obscure or unheralded books have been sold to the movies or made into very successful movies.

Carolyn DeLoach, Savannah,GA asked:

I wrote a book ten years ago based on a real event–a horrific mass murder that occurred in GA in the 1800s. It sold extremely well but is now out of print. (It is considered a rare book on Amazon). Recently a screenwriter tracked me down and says he wants to convert my book to a script for movie. After the book went out of print I did not renew my agent’s contract. I have no idea who this screenwriter is and how to negotiate. I have no intentions of signing over the rights to just anyone. Any advice?

Warren Adler answered:

Carolyn: Get a lawyer who deals with intellectual properties. Never give rights away. It may be the screenwriter is willing to pay,( even a modest amount might do it)with a big bonus at the back end if he sells the script for a production. Put a time limit on it. Say a one year option, renewable for another year. If he wants the rights for nothing, walk. It doesn’t matter if the book is out of print or not, its still your property. As for the agent, he could make a claim depending on the old contract. A lawyer will know. Try to set a price with the lawyer in advance. It could be worth it, since the book’s subject matter, which caught the screenwriter’s eye may have a lot more value than you think. I would also check your copyright, which is easy.

Leslie, Williamsville, NY asked:

Is it a good idea to submit your manuscript online to a company that will only pay you royalties on the book and not an advance payment? (This is offered to first time publishers only). May I submit my manuscript to as many publishers that I chose?

Warren Adler answered:

There are no rules in the manuscript submission business. You can submit to as many publishers as you please. Whether they will open up your submission is another story. In todays publishing environment getting published is only step one. The book has to be publicized, marketed and distributed and that takes money. If you get interest from a publisher who does not give you an advance find out what he will spend to market and distribution. If it is not adequately promoted and marketed and no one buys or reads it you will have a tough time getting another book published.

Warren Adler

Cheryl, Southside, AL asked:

I have become a big fan of your ebooks and comment on occasion and have asked your opinion before concerning how to get a book into movie form. I have followed your advice and am seeking an agent.

Now to get to the basics, how can a person help their book to become a best seller without a lot of money?

Booksignings, book talks, etc. are just inching along. Advice from you would mean a lot.

Warren Adler answered:


If I knew the answer to your question I would amass a fortune. No one knows how to make a best seller. But one thing is certain, the book has to be distributed everywhere books are sold. This means that it must be well promoted and books must move off the shelves. There is no way to engineer a best seller that I know of. The most powerful tool to get books sold is word of mouth which means that the content of the book must catch the imagination and proceed from there from person to person like a virus. As for becoming a movie, without an agent with contacts in Hollywood it is pretty near impossible. I wish I could give you sure fire advice. Alas, its impossible.

Evelyn, Kelowna, British Columbia asked:

My friend published a POD children’s book. The publisher said she owns the rights to the characters in the book but not the book rights themselves. After seeing her book, an acquaintance suggested that she send a copy to his good friend that happens to own an animation studio (they’ve done many large studio productions and credits are on IMDB). We sent the book. We just heard back from the friend — not the animation exec himself — that the company is VERY interested in animating her book along with marketing it (toys, books), but he asked for “sole rights” which we obviously cannot give on the book itself, but we can on the characters(?) Once we have something ON PAPER from this exec – what do we do next? I have managed and assisted her through finding a publisher and getting her book published, but I have no experience in the LA entertainment industry and she wants me to work with her still. Do we still need an Agent? Or just an Entertainment Lawyer to review her publishing contracts and terms the animation exec offers? Is there anything we have to watch out for?

Warren Adler answered:

Your friend is desperately in need of an entertainment lawyer. Frankly, I don’t understand how the author did not retain the rights to her book. Something is very wrong here that, in my opinion, only a lawyer can untangle. You are also apparently working through a third party and not the people who really make the decisions on adapting the book to animation. Very interested means nothing unless a firm offer is tendered. I think its time to dispense with naivete and get professional help. I can assure you that the animation company that has done big time animation is very well versed in all the ramifications of acquisition. Your author friend should immediately seek the kind of help that will protect her creative rights before she makes any further moves

Cheryl Loftice Gillman, Southside, Alabama asked:

I have written a series of books and the first one has been published. The publisher wrote me that my stories are ‘movie stuff’. How do I go about marketing these books as a miniseries or movies?

Warren Adler answered:

Find yourself an agent in Hollywood. Unless you have personal contacts in the film or television industry, the process is difficult. You might try writing a one page summary of your work and send it off to Hollywood agents, producers, actors, directors etc. There are also numerous scouts out there looking for material. I don’t mean to be discouraging, but unless you are approached the chances of your work getting noticed can be a labor intensive chore. Of course, you could get lucky and find in your networking or readership base someone who might get you to a producer.

Raymond, Jamaica, NY asked:

If I wanted to sell my book rights to Movie producers, How would I go about doing that?

Warren Adler answered:

You would have to get yourself a Hollywood agent who believes that your book has a shot at a movie deal. Unless you are plugged into that world, have an agent or a book that has attracted some interest, your chances are pretty slim. Unfortunately there is no direct path to the movie world unless you happen to know actors, producers, directors and those deeply involved who can get a movie made.

The Ferret, Marietta,Georgia asked:

Hey Warren, I’ve read over a lot of the people’s questions and i haven’t yet found the answer i’m looking for. I’m a young writter but isn’t sure if this is the path to choice. I mean, in the long run i’ll be well off, assuming that anybody likes my work…my first question is, how did YOU know that writting was right for you. I mean, anybody can tell a story, right? Second of all, how long is the process of getting a manuscript turned into a book. I mean, please break it down for me step by step and please tell about the common scams out there…(I think my agent is scamming me also, i found him online and he preferrs to do everything through emails and he keeps on asking for money for all of these steps but promising me that i’ll get to the top…) anyways, if you could answer thoughs question for me…oh one more question, is it really a big deal if your book is a Newyork Bestseller? i mean, i’ve read James Patterson all the time and all his are bestsellers, bu!
t i’ve also read some really go thrillers that wern’t…so i’m like…what’s the difference, you know? I’m sorry for blabbing but to recap my three questios they are 1. How do you know if writting is the right path. 2. what are all the steps of turning your manuscript to a book and how long does it take. 3. whats the deal about Newyork times bestsellers, does it make a diff?

Warren Adler answered:

You pose some interesting questions. I’ll try to answer them. How do you know writing is the right path? My own theory is that to be a true writer of fiction is a calling. It is something you must do even if it leads to rejection after rejection and failure. You can, of course, choose to be a professional writer and follow the usual genre formulas and hope to get a publisher interested. Indeed, you can sustain a profitable career writing formula genre stories like Patterson and others, but the question you asked about the “right path” is deeply personal and I’ve given you my own perspective on the answer. As for turning your manuscript into a book, that is quite easily answered since the process is mechanical and can be found elsewhere. If you are lucky enough to find a publisher, that entity will do the job for you. You will provide a clean manuscript. A publisher will design, edit, typeset, market and advertise. There are numerous self-publishing aids to be found on the internet. It can take as long as a year or more depending on the prep work, catalogue insertions, sales calls etc. As for the Times best seller list, it has its place. If your book has little notoriety and few readers it can fade into oblivion. The more exposure the better and the Times publishes a respected list. Is it important? You bet.

Warren Adler

Bill Ciarno, Idaho asked:

my daughters play is being made into a short movie.She is being asked for the movie rights and a contract.Percentage/dollar value??? We have no idea how this works.Can you help??

Warren Adler answered:

It all depends on who the buyer is and what he or she intends to do with the play. In my experience there is no big market for this kind of material. Take whatever is offered.

Kimberly Raiser, St. Augustine, FL asked:

Recently my novel “The Family Bones” came out in print. Today, I received two separate letters, one from a major film company, and another from a major agency in Los Angeles inquiring about movie rights for my book. I am astounded. I referred them both to my agent, but what would you suggest is the going rate. These are both legitimate contacts.

Warren Adler answered:

There is no going rate. If its a producer with a studio deal the chances are it will be more than an independent would pay. They’ll probably ask for a one year option with renewal terms. Get as much as you can and be sure your agent knows how to negotiate with them. They will option thousands of books and very few will get made. It is indeed a leg up, but you are dealing with seasoned hustlers and you must protect yourself.

Julie, Houston,TX asked:

What is the War of the Roses movie about and how does it have to do with family law?

Warren Adler answered:

It is about a nasty divorce in Washington D.C. where the contesting couple live independently under the same roof while getting a divorce. Why not read the book or see the movie for further information? Warren Adler

Gianni, Italy asked:

I have recently completed a screenplay loosely based on real events–six years ago a member of the Italian armed forces won an audition for a US dance company and went to Hollywood. All the events at the time were covered in the press and were public knowledge. The person the screenplay is based on was initially interested only in having a part in film but now wants to employed in pre production for several months, to get 3% of the gross revenues and to have an important role in the film. We are a low budget production and his requests seem eccessive. The script has gone through so many changes that it only vaguely resembles his life. What is a reasonable offer for me to make? Is there something you could advise me to read on acquiring life story rights?

Warren Adler answered:

I’m sure there is a time honored legal formula for acquiring rights to true stories. This matter should have been taken care of before you began the project. His demands are very excessive especially his demand for gross points. Nor have you any obligation to employ him. I would make him a reasonable flat fee offer and refuse employment and profit points. You might have to consult a lawyer. I wish I could be more helpful. Warren Adler

Anthony D., North Carolina asked:

What if Hollywood comes knocking for my new novel with minimal sales? How much should I expect from them as an author, and likewise, if the book is a bestseller?

Warren Adler answered:

It would be best not to counting your chickens at this point. Ask me when you have real interest.

Warren Adler

Gary, Lincoln, Nebraska asked:

I’ve had a successful screenwriter voice interest in developing a screenplay based on my traditionally published novel. He has been the screenwriter for a number of very successful motion pictures (all within my novel’s genre). That said, he contends that his support of my novel is relatively inconsequential in Hollywood. He suggests that he is better off to
help me find an A-list actor’s production company and pitch them. In your opinion, is this correct? I would think a successful screenwriter’s opinion to be valued in the decision to option a novel. Thanks for your input.

Warren Adler answered:

He is correct. Getting a film made is based on assembling elements, an actor and director being the principle elements. If you can find a top valued actor who loves the book, you have somewhat of a chance to get it made. Your screenwriter friend is absolutely right. Warren Adler

Charlie, New York, NY asked:

I have published a book titled Charlie Stupit, and I want to sell the movie rights. What do you suggest? I believe that my book will make a great
movie. All of my friends thinks so. Please help me!

Warren Adler answered:

The only way that makes sense is to find yourself a Hollywood agent. They are listed on the Internet. My suggestion would be to offer a one page summary of your story and send it out to all of them. Without someone in LA flacking your book, your chances are next to nil. Warren Adler

James, Omaha, Nebraska asked:

I have recently published a book and want to sell the movie rights. What is my best approach?

Warren Adler answered:

The gateway to a movie sell is finding yourself a Hollywood agent. Without this kind of help your odds are heavily weighted against you. Worse, getting a Hollywood agent is tough. My suggestion would be to write a one page synopsis of your book and send it to all Hollywood agents, most of whom you can find on the Internet. I know this sounds simplistic, but barring a miracle, meaning someone who has read your book and who has clout in Hollywood, your selling your book to the movies or television is a tough row to hoe. Beware of Internet promoters who promise, for a fee, to get your book into consideration for a movie. Warren Adler

Felice, Southfield, Michigan asked:

How do I make a proposal to an author to do a stage play based off of his autobiography? The author approached me and stated he wanted me to take his autobiography and adapt a stage play. We have met several times and discussed
various topics and even set deadlines, but I have yet to see anything in writing, which has bothered me a lot. I don’t want to go forward without written permission to adapt the book into a stage play… also I am not sure
what or how the % for ticket sales should be distributed. Please help!

Warren Adler answered:

Be wary. There is boiler plate from the Dramatists Guild in how these percentages are worked out from the playwright’s point of view. You can check that out easily by contacting the Dramatists Guild in New York. But the more serious problem is what kind of a contract you make with the author and how much money the author and/or the producer will put up for you to adapt the story. Do not go forward on spec without carefully worked out details in writing, including who owns the rights to the finished play. If it’s not spelled out, you are taking a big gamble. Warren Adler

Harlan, Stockton, California asked:

I want to write a screenplay based on a book whose foreign author died a few years ago. So far I have been unable to identify his literary
executor or the person who controls his literary estate. Nor his heirs. I have a few leads. My question: is there a standard form for a contract between an author’s estate and the person who wishes to acquire movie rights to a book(me)? I should think the standard form at least would be a good starting point for negotiations. I’ve not been able to locate a standard form, if one
exists. I’m assuming that if I were to secure an agreement from the executor or heirs, I could find an agent rather easily. Many thanks for your

Warren Adler answered:

As far as I know, there is no standard form, especially since the rights owner might want to have payment in exchange for the rights. I would suggest that you consult an intellectual property lawyer who will show you the correct path. There are also copyright issues to be explored. The copyright might no longer be effective depending on how old the book is. But I do not believe you can do this without understanding the legal ramifications. No producer will touch a project without a clear legal right for the underlying material. Warren Adler

Dave, London asked:

I have an opportunity to sell my autobiography book rights for film – how much should I expect to get?

Warren Adler answered:

Dave: The price depends on how much the buyer thinks your book will make a great movie and how much money the producer has to spend on the material. There is no set amount. If it’s a fly by night producer, don’t think it will garner what you think it’s worth. Be sure you get a piece of the back end and have any contract checked with a good entertainment lawyer.

Nia, Memphis, Tennesse asked:

How do I go about finding the owners of book rights?

Warren Adler answered:

There is no data base that I know about that lists book rights. But if you want to find out who owns a particular book, there is only one way that I know of to find out. Contact the author or his family.

Harry Adler, El Monte, CA asked:

I have just written a children’s book that is weeks away from being printed. How would I go about getting it considered to be made into a movie?

Warren Adler answered:

Your best bet is to contact a Hollywood agent. In today’s marketplace it is almost impossible to make a movie sale without an agent in Hollywood.

CJ SANG, Wayne, NJ asked:

I would like to option a book for a movie. The author is European and no longer alive. How do I start? I heard it’s a bad idea to go through the publisher.

Warren Adler answered:

You must determine the owner, which is probably the family. You can’t option what you don’t own. You must search for and contact the author’s heirs.

Monalisa, Chicago, IL asked:

hi, my question is,i am the author of a children storybook: Dan and Derrick’s Prayer to the Troops.
You are the expert, do you know of any producer that would be interested to make this story come alive, like lion king. I believe it would be a great way to honor our troops and put some excitement and peace in our children’s minds. The story logline is: Two children invent a unique method of sending messages to God on behalf of the troops in Iraq.

Warren Adler answered:

I’m can’t judge the commercial aspects of your material for a movie. Considering that all the movies about the war have done badly, I would think that the appetite for this subject might not be there. I do understand the heartfelt need for your message, but I my sense is that you would have a tough road to hoe to get this going as a movie. Warren Adler

Mike, Beaverton, OR asked:

I have written a short story loosely based on a book that was turned into a movie. The movie is considered one of the top 100. My story is in effect a sequel to the original. Naturally, it is just what Hollywood is looking for. Which we both know represents a triumph of blind faith over dismal reality. The book was published in the early 1950s.
My question is very specific. I would have to option the rights to the original story. If the book had not been used in a movie, I would find the author’s agent. But, in this case should I be contacting the publisher of the movie? Perhaps I am not asking the right question. However, I am sure you can read between the lines.

Warren Adler answered:

Boy this is one tough question to answer. You have to find out what the original contract for the movie stipulates. Is there a sequel clause? There usually is. You have a lot of legal searching to do, since the chances are that the author, his agent and the executives who negotiated the deal are all retired or dead. I don’t think there is a cheap way to get this going and I strongly advise you check with a lawyer. On the other hand, can you make the claim that this is not a sequel or change the manuscript in a way that suggests it is an original idea and not connected with the original movie. Warren Adler

Thomas, Toronto, Ontario asked:

I’m amazed by your thoughtful and direct replies Warren.. full credit to you for ‘giving back’ to people who’d like to emulate your excellent successes.

My question is in regard to writing about Historical Events. I’m developing a film story based on actual events.. a shipwreck in 1828, and embedding those events within a modern context. The Shipping News used this style in some ways though I’m not certain if the historical events were true.

I know I can’t copyright or prevent others from adapting relative to actual historical events but I wonder where the line gets drawn (re copyright) relative to how I’ve built my modern context and scenarios. I also wonder how descendants of the people involved might have (fair) claim.. or ‘fair say’ in depictions I may create. I’m creating fictitious descendants that will not have the original names (marriage does that!) but the inference is clear. An opera was created based on the actual events and from my understanding, one particular family was not impressed with the fictional adaption!

All the best Warren.. and keep writing!


Warren Adler answered:

While I’m not an expert on the legal issues, my gut reaction is that you will be in the clear on all the issues you raised. Frankly considering that this is a historical event that happened nearly two centuries ago, I would not worry about it and do the best job you can do. Think of John Adams, now a series. I doubt if any of the Adam’s heirs would dare raise issues of copyright. Your biggest problem will be to find interest in an industry that is pointed toward people who have no sense of history. Good luck. Warren Adler

Ashley, Atlanta, GA asked:

Me and my partner are interested in purchasing the movie rights to a book. The rights were originally supposed to be purchased by Will Smith but the deal fell through. Where should I begin when researching this opportunity? How will I know the price of the movie rights?

Warren Adler answered:

Why not call Smith’s production office and confirm that the deal fell through. If the author is alive, call him or his agent and see if these rights are available. If they are, make a low ball offer and see if it flies. Warren Adler

Elaine, Norfolk, VA asked:

After recently self-publishing a shocking non-fiction book about a group of teenagers confined within a psychiatric unit, I have come to realize its potential as either a television movie or feature film. With the number of young people committing serious crimes these days, as well as the public’s perception that in many cases mental health treatment would “help”, I believe that an insider’s (i.e., psychiatric nurse’s) look into the shocking stories would be a real eye-opener.
Any thoughts on contacting the appropriate rep for a possible sale as a TV or film property?

Warren Adler answered:

If you have not got an agent with Hollywood connections about the only advice I can offer is send a one page summary to all Hollywood agents from a list you will find in a book titled Literary Market Place by Bowker which you can find in the library. There is no other easy way to get the attention of the marketplace that I know of. Good luck Warren Adler

Joyce, Middlefield, MA asked:

Hello, I read a book many years ago, I am 61. It would make a great plot for a movie. It is out of print. It would be a movie Joss Whedon or Spielberg would do. The author has died. I know it would not be worth much money for me..but maybe bring this book to their attention…any ideas

Warren Adler answered:

Getting an old book to someone’s attention in Hollywood is a challenge. Without a Hollywood agent it is almost impossible to get attention. You might get the names of Hollywood agents and send them a one page idea. You might get a bite but it is a long shot. Sorry to be so discouraging but that is the reality. Warren Adler

Willy, Denver, CO asked:

I have a producer who is interested in buying the option for movie, play and TV rights for my nonfiction novel. What is an option worth and for how long should I sell the option for?

Warren Adler answered:

An option is a promise to pay at some agreed point in the future. Options can go for any amount from zero to infinity. Everything depends on what the producer is willing to risk while he puts the elements together to make his movie. There is no average figure that I am aware of. Usually options go for one year with a renewal for another year with all sort of variables. Beware of a free option. Also the option agreement should spell out most issues between the writer and the producer in advance e.g. profit split, ancillary material split, tv rights, live performance rights etc. If you haven’t got an agent get yourself a good entertainment lawyer since you can easily get screwed. Also, the ratio of options to pickup is astronomical. Thousands get optioned. A tiny percentage get made. Warren Adler

Beverly, Manning, Alberta Canada asked:

Dear Warren who do you contact and how do you get addresses for producers to read a book, one that is published to be looked at for movie making. What are the steps that one would have to make and do. I need help thanks Beverly

Warren Adler answered:

Beverly: You can find a list of Hollywood agents on the net. However, your best bet is to canvas all the agents in Hollywood. Names of these are also on the internet. A query letter might be appropriate. Getting their attention is a real challenge especially while the writers strike persists. Access to producers is another challenge and most get their submission via agents. Warren Adler

Nancy, Fort Lauderdale, FL asked:

I’ve heard that War of the Roses is based on a TRUE story of a couple whose last name was ROSE in Miami, FL. The husband ROSE was/is also an attorney. Is this true?

Warren Adler answered:

No, it is not based on a true story and it is not biographical. Nor is it based on a couple named Rose. It is, like most fiction, solely a work of the imagination. Warren Adler

Grant, Cincinnati, OH asked:

I self published Scandal in the Courtroom. I want an agent to sell my screen rights. It is the story of my life in Copake, New York. I grew up in the house on of my ancestors built in 1687 and owned a 380 acre dairy farm my son was planing to take over. It never happened. The community had a serial arsonist. I was a leader in the community. I was chairman of the church board, the local co-op and president of the Farm Bureau. I organized a Dairy Day and had the U.S. Sectary of Agriculture and the Governor as speakers. I also served on a committee of the state Farm Bureau. the arsonist burned my first barn in 1980, then a second in 1985 and finally my third, the Bull Spring Fire in 1987. I was understandably mad at this point and the Sheriff was not doing anything to stop the fires. Our Sheriff was our former fire chief and like my family, related to many of the local people. When I put pressure on the Sheriff to do something. The New York Times sent a reporter to interview me and they published a story on the arsons. Then the Sheriff acted. He arrested my 19-year-old son for burning our own barn. That is where what I call Club Justice took over and how the lawyers did more damage than the arsonist that burned my three barns. The charges against my son were dropped before trial when the D. A. discovered a man was seen leaving the Bull Spring fire that was burned so badly a witness could smell the burned flesh. A prior investigation by the Sheriff’s Dep. established that was the arsonist. A cover-up takes place and a suite to recover damages fails and seems to convict my son of arson when a Federal Judge rules the “arrest was proper.” My son was forced from the community and I was denied loans needed to rebuild and diversify the farm. The farm is lost on the courthouse steps and when I arrived in Ohio 10 years ago I have a broken marriage and only $200 in my pocket. I spoke to a young screen writer about my script but I don’t know what the story is worth and need an agent to represent me.

Warren Adler answered:

Without a Hollywood agent, the chances of your selling your book to the movies are very much against you. I would suggest you find a list of these agents on the net and send your outline to them just as you wrote it here, but do not include your hard luck story. In Hollywood, the story is everything not the personal ramifications. Sorry to be so brutal but you might as well face the reality of selling to Hollywood. Warren Adler

Susana, Mooresville, NC asked:

I wrote “Through the Eyes of a Child” It is being released to the public as of today. I wrote this book for my terminally ill son who lives one day at a time. How do I get the word around that his book is being released. I would like people to buy it because we do not know how long his short life is going to be. Publish America is my publisher. I also retained the movie rights. Thank you.

Warren Adler answered:

I wish I could be helpful in finding a movie deal. One suggestion I have is to send the book to a number of Hollywood agents with a very short synopsis. You can obtain this list from the internet. Beyond that there is no magic wand. Warren Adler

Phyllis, Pouce Coupe, BC Canada asked:

I’ve just published a science fiction novel titled ‘Been Blued.’ Several people who have read it mention that it ‘reads like a movie,’ and that’s what I was aiming for when I wrote it. You mentioned that contacting the right people to buy the movie rights was an imperfect process. Is there some kind of resource for finding producers who might be interested in a specific genre?
You also mentioned that you’re looking for good books to read: Been Blued is about people who left Earth so long ago they consider themselves aliens, but a virus in space wiped out their women so they returned with high hopes and ran into problems. If you like Star Trek and Dr. Who, you’ll enjoy Been Blued. Thank you for your time and attention.

Warren Adler answered:

Without a Hollywood agent you have a tough row to hoe. There are numerous lists on the net of agents, producers, actors and others in the movie business. You can query them all with a brief outline of your book and hope for the best. But there is no substitute for a Hollywood agent who has all the contacts and can get your material around. Warren Adler

Russ, Arlington, TX asked:

We recently experienced a real life event with the Feds, that did receive press attention just prior to the Va Tech shootings. Then that story trumped everything for a while. Ours was also a college related event. The crux of the story is that 18 boys were arrested and our son is the only one walking free. They were all entrapped but fear the “system” intimidated all the others to take pleas. Everyone is captivated by the story–although I know you say do not go by these responses. Our trial was of the Tom Cruise “you can’t handle the truth” type. Truly a high energy story. My question is regarding turning this into a book. Is it a disadvantage to have a publisher assist in the writing of a book in the big picture? We can do the writing ourselves; I am just wondering if it is worth the help in the end. I also would hope it makes it to the movies on the “luck” train. Thank you for your time Sir.

Warren Adler answered:

If you have a publisher who is genuinely interested in your story and is willing to pay you for it, either negotiate with them as to who will write it or arrange a co-writer. If you have not got a publisher, then my advice is to outline your story, make it short, hit the highlights and send it around to various agents. Lists of agents abound on the internet. An agent has the contacts and know how on making these deals and will advise you on how to proceed. Remember, regardless of the merits of the story and your interest in it, it is a story that becomes a commodity in the market place. Good luck. Warren Adler

Ken, Winnipeg Manitoba asked:

I have a book published by Publish America Inc. In Frederick Maryland.It’s title is “Tag…You’re Dead” a murder/mystery/romance novella. It is my first book. My question then is…
Being published by a P.O.D.(Publish On Demand) publisher,do you think that this is a hinderance to my ever seeing some Movie company buy my options? Thank You

Warren Adler answered:

The only way a movie producer, agent, actor, director, will respond to an on demand book would be if you sent it to him or her and hope for the best. It is a very imperfect system. I would query every agent, producer etc with a letter and a brief one page synopsis before you send them a book. Even then, it might be difficult to get their attention. but its worth a try. Good luck Warren Adler

Lola, Dell City, TX asked:

What is your opinion between vanity book publishers and the standard publishers? It is so tempting to go the self publishing route mainly for speed, but I really don’t have the money. I am only a couple of weeks away from having my book finished and would appreciate your feedback.

An agency in NY replied with what I feel is a positive answer regarding the movie script I sent to them, telling me that they now have several agents reading my script. They also handle books. I suppose I will know something one way or the other, in the not too distant future if I have enough patience. My biggest problem is trust.

I have written a few (published) articles in the past and hundreds of instructions (with my hand drawn illustrations) for sewing patterns which I designed and illustrated from 1960 to 2005 and advertised in magazines. I set up my web site in 1997 and maintained it until May of 2005. I sold the business to a lady who is young and energetic. You can see my illustrations on her site which is under my original business name, “Lola Gentry Originals” and the URL I setup in 1997 at:

I thought about adding my maiden name to ‘Gentry’ to separate my books and articles from being a designer and former pattern business. The lady who bought it wants to put a link on her site to my (pending) writer’s site. My question is: Do you think it wise to add my maiden name ‘Mayfield’ as shown below to my writings or should I continue using just Lola Gentry? There’s a jillion other Lola Gentry’s out there, but it’s a fairly well known name as a pattern maker and designer.

Warren Adler answered:

I doubt any name change would make the slightest bit of difference. As for self-publishing, it will only work if you’re willing to put lots of money and time into the selling effort. Who will distribute your books to the stores? Who will send out advance copies for reviews? How will potential readers find out about it? Who will handle the bookkeeping, the storage etc.? Sure it will be fast, but then what? You might sell a few books to friends and relatives, but how will you project yourself to wider audience. If you have not figured out a marketing strategy for your self-published book, I would pause and give your idea a lot more thought. Warren Adler

Louise, www, Internet asked:

Hello: I would like to know, when writing an essay that is like a memoir about the town where I grew up, is it legally acceptable to name actual people, such as storekeepers that I remember? Can you publish this type of work using actual names? Thank you. Louise

Warren Adler answered:

Sure you can mention their names. That’s what a memoir is all about as long as you don’t liable the person. Warren Adler

Peggy, Greenbelt, MD asked:

I have a published novel titled In Search of the Songbird. I would like the book adapted for a TV movie. I have written to Hallmark and Lifetime. They suggested I get an agent. What type of agent has an interest in adapting a book for TV and how do I research this information?

Warren Adler answered:

You will not get to first base without an agent. There are any number of lists of Hollywood agents. Send them a query letter with an outline of your novel. It will be nearly impossible to sell this yourself. Warren Adler

Harita, Athens, Greece asked:

I am an author of four non-fiction books. My area of expertise is classical Greece. A British channel has expressed an interest in turning one of my books into a historical documentary; their representative refered me to a Greek producer, since this is going to be a co-production. The producer asked me what I want in order to sell the rights to the book, since I am the copyright holder. What would an appropriate amount be? Also, what are my rights as an author in the production of the documentary? I have already asked to be interviewed as a an expert on the subject, and the producer has agreed. As a newcomer in the film industry, what else do I need to know? Are there are any books or articles concerning deals with producers which you would recommend?
Thank you for your time. I realize that you may not be able to answer all my questions, but any information will be appreciated.

Warren Adler answered:

My advice is to find an agent or an intellectual property lawyer to negotiate this deal. Never mind the books or articles. If these people are really serious and they are a reliable company it will be well worth your while to get someone else to negotiate for you. It will be well worth any fee or commission they charge. Do not try and negotiate this yourself. Warren Adler

Monika, Colorado Springs, CO asked:

I would like to option a book taken from a woman’s journal. The woman is dead, no survivors. The editor is dead, not children. And the book has been out of print for years. The publishing company has been engulfed by another. How can I do this and how much will it cost??

Warren Adler answered:

First find out if the book is still in print and who owns it. The writer may have relatives. If you’re going to option a book you have to have a source. Warren Adler

Peggy, Greenbelt, MD asked:

I have recently submitted a published book to be adapted for a TV movie. The agency that responded is The Screenplay Agency – Books to Film. They have sent me a contract to sign. The agency is the usual 10% commission. But I have never heard of the company. Can you tell me anything about this firm?

Warren Adler answered:

I never heard of them. Check them out at Google before signing anything. Warren Adler

Steve, USA asked:

Last year a friend’s son was thrown into a Mexican prison in Ensenada on totally trumped up charges. The truck he and “his boss” drove over the border had a stash of counterfeit money, LOTS. Apparently the boss is connected to the Tiajuana Cartel. And his construction biz is a front. Before ‘taking the trip’ the kid was receiving major football offers from every college in the US. During his confinement he was beaten regularly, electrucuted, OTHER. He has lost a testicle. They let him out a couple of months ago with the help of a Senator. His boss was arrested. I have secured the rights to the story. Now what?

Warren Adler answered:

Your next step is to get yourself a Hollywood agent who can sell this story to the movies or TV. It sounds like TV. It would be easier if he had a book in the works. Producers in Hollywood act on notoriety. If there are clippings about his plight it would be helpful in selling his story. Good luck. Warren Adler

Sam, Youngstown, OH asked:

I have enjoyed your books, espeically the duet on the Roses. My novel is SWAP, maybe when you’re on a beach somewhere and need something to read. www.samsstories.comfor more on me.

Warren Adler answered:

Thanks for the tip. Always looking for good books to read. Regards, Warren Adler

Kristina, Wyoming, MI asked:

I bought a book at the public library a while ago, and when I read it, I thought it would be an amazing movie. I contacted the author and told her she should really think about trying to get this book made into a movie. There are movies being made that take place during Pearl Harbor and World War II, and that’s what this book is about. I think it would be a big hit. The author says that her agent and a publising company have been trying to sell the movie rights for this book. I want to help out.

Who would I go to, to try and get someone to buy the movie rights?

Warren Adler answered:

Unless you have firm and long standing contacts in the movie business, you will face a long uphill battle. Many fine books never make it to the movies. And books about World War II don’t fall in the right demographic market which is for young men under 25. But anything is worth a try. Steel yourself for rejection. Warren Adler

Peggy, Milford, ME asked:

I have asked you some questions and I thank you for the answers. But I do have one other that comes to mind right now. In the light of what you said “studios produce big budget movies ala Lion King.” The person that came up with that made alot of money. With just a wild guess, on a good book what kind of price do you think an author could get? for a child’s book? I know it won’t be an accurate price. (maybe prices are like other movie offers) Thanks so much for your input.

Warren Adler answered:

If the studios really want it and the price is negotiated by an expert, an option can range into six figures, although these days it is rare. Independents might pay anything from nothing to five figures. Without an agent as an advocate and without really heavy interest expect little. Many desperate people with books or screenplays accept nothing and hope that the movie will be made and they will be paid at the back end. There are so many variables. Was the book a best seller? Is there a big fan base? Just to get a buyer to read the material is a chore in itself. Which doesn’t mean that sometimes miracles don’t happen. Unfortunately there is no pay scale and no science. The marketplace rules. Warren Adler

Michelle, Johnstown, PA asked:

What author has had their books made into the most movies?

Warren Adler answered:

That’s a tough one. I’ll make a try. Georges Simenon, who wrote more than 300 novels. Or Arthur Conan Doyle inventor of Sherlock Holmes. Warren Adler

Peggy, Milford, ME asked:

I have published my first book with Infinity Publishing. A Christian romance and I am in the process of making a children’s book for ages 3-8 (around those ages). I think it would be a good movie for children because it is something I have never seen anything like. Do you think a children’s book has a chance of becoming a cartoon for children? And when a movie gets made do they have the rights to change what your characters look like when they’re done etc. on the cartoon? Thanks alot for your advise. I am new to book writing and trying to find out any info I can get my hands on.

Warren Adler answered:

I’m sorry Peggyann, I don’t know very much about the children’s market only that the studios produce big budget movies ala Lion King etc. They might buy a book for its characters and story line. It is highly doubtful that the book author would be granted any control over characters or plot. As for Christian Romance I’m not conversant with the market on this type of book. A Hollywood agent should know, but getting to them is yet another high mountain to climb. Warren Adler

Ida, asked:

How long did it take for you to have your first book published? I am still working on finding a way for my first book to be published.

Warren Adler answered:

Although I had published short stories and poems in my early twenties, I didn’t get my first novel published until I was 45 years old. It was pure luck. I ran an advertising agency in Washington D.C. at the time. A man came to my office and asked if we promoted books. I said we promote everything. What is the fee for this promotion, he asked. This was the eureka moment that changed my life. My fee, I said, was that your publisher, a tiny publisher in Philadelphia publish my first novel. He said fine, send me the book and I will give it to my publisher. He did. It was published and that was my fee. It completely changed my life and became the realization of my life’s ambition…to become a novelist. Since then I have published twenty seven novels. I guess you might conclude that talent by itself is not enough. You need luck. I am grateful to this many who became my friend and has now passed on. Warren Adler

Pat, Indiana asked:

There is a good chance that a book I am about to sign a contract with a publisher for will be made into a movie. Who decides the what and wherefores of all this procedure? The author or the publisher? Or both?

Warren Adler answered:

It all depends on how your contract with the publisher reads. If the publisher has been granted the movie rights, the publisher makes the decisions. If the author retains the rights it is the author who makes the decisions. Either way, restrain your optimism. The odds against a book becoming a movie are astonishingly high. Warren Adler

Reshonia, New York, NY asked:

My deceased father was portrayed in the movie Paid in Full. My mom sent a letter to the producers asking for a scholarship for college. They said I was never included and my dad never knew me. Now I’m a student at Hofstra and really can’t afford it. Is it legal to profit from a crime without compensating the victim? The person who killed my dad is being portrayed killing my dad in the movie.

Warren Adler answered:

I wish I could help. But it would be well worth it to get a lawyer who will work on a contingency fee that will not cost you anything unless he collects from the movie company. I do not know any lawyers who do this but there must be many. Warren Adler

John, Clearwater, FL asked:

I have contracted with a major New York literary agent. I am quite positive that my novel on terrorism/military will be published in the coming months. The story would make a great summer or holiday blockbuster film. In pitching a novel, (I’m sure you know this)a query letter has to catch the agent’s attention. Is there a way to do the same thing with producers? Where can I find a free list of producers to submit my query to? Thanks…..the title of the book is “Second Wave” in case you see it in stores in the near future. Thank you so much for your time. John

Warren Adler answered:

There is probably a list of producers on the internet. If your book is published the studios have scouts out looking for material. Make sure your pitch to producers is no more than one page. They rarely read material. It is usually filtered through a low paid employee who makes the judgement on what to show the producer. My advice would be to wait until the book is published before making your pitch. Warren Adler

Donald Urso, Westerly, RI asked:

I am a produced playwright. I have stories that are too big for the stage. How do I find someone to help me co-write what I have written–to share writing credits with? I have very little training in screenwriting. The two genres are different. I have the stories fleshed out, but I need someone who knows the technical side of screenwriting–camera angles, etc.

Warren Adler answered:

There are many books on screenwriting. Buy yourself the software for writing a screenplay, e.g. Final Draft. Then put them both together. A screenplay does not require any of the technical know-how like camera angles, cuts etc. That’s for the director to worry about. There must be many screenwriters on the internet. Tell them your story and see if anyone bites. Warren Adler

Leslie, Ellersile, GA asked:

I have an autobiography that is powerful. I am debating if I should self publish or look for agents. Any suggestions? My long term goal is to have a movie from my story…It will be motivating and positive…as powerful as “Pursuit of Happyness.”

Warren Adler answered:

Ask yourself why anyone would be interested in your autobiography. What have you accomplished that is so unique and unusual that people will want to read about it, no less than see it evolve in a movie? Before you self-publish send it around to agents. If they don’t bite, only then self-publish, then ask yourself again the question I posed at the beginning. The plot of “Pursuit of Happiness” is as old as the hills and the only reason it ever got made is because Will Smith thought the concept commercial. Of course, in the final analysis, plow ahead and see if and how others react to your story. Warren Adler

Jim, Tornto asked:

I have published three novels, and writing has always been fairly effortless for me. However, the past two 1/2 years I feel as it’s an effort to get a page written. This block followed a stint into rehab. So I’ve got my life settled away, and now I can’t write? Do you have any advice? It’s as if someone stole my muse.
Thanks, Jim.

Warren Adler answered:

Hi Lefty: There is no such thing as writer’s block. If you don’t surrender to that notion it will all go away. I know this sounds ridiculous, but the fact is that you’re telling yourself that you are bereft of ideas. Why don’t you go on a reading orgy for a week or so, then get back to work. Other people’s words can effect a great cure. Get rid of your air of desperation. Warren Adler

Jerred, Skyland Drive asked:

A small film production company wants to do a film version of a non-fiction book of mine published in 2005, The Last Eleven Days of Earl Durand. The company wants me to have an agent represent me in negotiations. My guess is that there is not a lot of money involved, the company being small. Additionally, my wife, who is well-known in the world of theatre, and I have adapted the book for the stage. The film company asked to see the play. I am quite certain that the dialogue would adapt to film.

Who might be interested in representing me and how would I find that company or person? I know you advise finding an agent, but I am not sure how to find one.

Warren Adler answered:

There is a book called Literary Market Place. Most libraries have a copy. I would send a short query to every agent in the book. Begin the query this way. “I have film interest in my book (title) and am seeking an agent for this book and others I will write. Are you interested?” You probably should be more specific, e.g. a one paragraph synopsis. Short and sweet. This will achieve everything in one shot rather than go through the misery of rejection. You might even try it using e-mail. Good luck. Warren Adler

Susan, Los Angeles, CA asked:

Can you tell me if there is some sort of database to find out if a book has already been optioned for a movie?

I have several books I would like to investigate but I need to know if they’ve already been optioned by other filmmakers/producers or studios. Thanks.

Warren Adler answered:

I know of no data base. But if you find a book to option, a call to the publisher might help. If the author has not given the rights to the publisher for sale to the movies, then you should request the name of the author’s agent from the publisher. If the author has no agent, you should contact him or her directly. It would not be a formidable process and is done every day. Good luck. Warren Adler

Jeff, Dayton, OH asked:

I have written a fiction book that I believe would be an excellent movie. The book is called THE BURGLAR (ISBN No. 1-4137-1601-6). It is about a cat and a dog that witness a burglary and most of the story is told from the pets’ point of view. It reads like a Disney movie. How would I go about submitting it for a movie? Thanks.