do and don't · query problems

Movie rights

Every few days I find a query that says:

  • This story was optioned for film,
  • So-and-so is interested in the film rights, or
  • This story has great potential as a movie.

The first problem is I can’t verify claims about who may or may not want to make a movie from your book. Such claims do nothing.

Second, very few moviemakers take chances on untried books. I have to assume that: the book is actually a screenplay, you know the filmmaker, and/or they’re a small indie producer. Those credits won’t affect my opinion.

If you think your book would make a great movie, I’m glad you believe in yourself. But your estimation of your work means zero to me.

In fact, it makes me think you have unrealistic expectations about the business.

At the end of the day, we’re interested in manuscripts for novels we can sell to publishers. It’s fantastic when we sell film rights! But that’s not our primary interest. Thus unverifiable movie claims don’t help your query.

However, if Ridley Scott is calling you everyday begging for the film rights, I want to know.

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