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Want a literary agent, publishing deal and an option for movies? Then don’t write a book.

Want a literary agent, publishing deal and an option for movies? Then don’t write a book. #Guestpost


Lots of blogs and vlogs focus on writing the perfect query letter. Others focus on creating the perfect book—pacing, tense, style. Some websites will give you the top ten tips when writing a synopsis. And they’re great and very much needed.

But, I’m going to take a bit of a different approach. I’m going to share what worked for me. Maybe it could work for you.

Want a literary agent, publishing deal and an option for movies? Then don’t write a book. #Guestpost
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My name is Gareth Worthington. I’m about to have two properties published in the next twelve months and am signed for at least three more to follow over the next few years. All have been optioned for TV or film. I’m represented by Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management, and my Publisher is Vesuvian Books, a company with extraordinary ties to Hollywood.

It all sounds impressive, right? I must have written pieces of literary genius and have all the right connections and an army of people backing me, right?

Not quite.

I’m a nobody. I didn’t grow up rich. In fact, I grew up in social housing in one of the roughest cities in the UK, in a less-than-favourable home environment. My schools actually boycotted grammar as part of the curriculum. I’m not a social media junkie, and I’m no social butterfly. I had no connections.

So, what happened? Here are the top three things I did (or didn’t) do:

1) I didn’t write a book, I created a property.

These days, books are a dime a dozen. Actually, they’re often not even that. They’re given away free. The advent of indie publishing has meant that the market is saturated—with the good, the bad, and the downright ugly. I believe there are more than five million books on Amazon alone.

Agents and publishers are literally drowning in submissions. So how to stand out?

In the 21st century, in the age of technology and multiple platforms for delivery, you have to ask yourself – does the book translate across media? Your potential agent and or publisher is often looking for properties that can be sold as ebooks, audiobooks, converted to graphic novels, and adapted to TV or film. You need to create a property that can be franchised.

To give you an example, my debut novel, Children of the Fifth Sun, will be published by Vesuvian Books on July 25th in print and ebook. It has been optioned for film/TV, is published on the unique Tapas Media platform, and we’re currently working on an audiobook. But, long before I ever queried an agent with the manuscript, I had laid the groundwork. I had already:

·        Created an entire website dedicated to the background research in my ‘science faction’ novel (www.childrenofthefifthsun.com)
·        Joined an online community to pitch the book to Hollywood studios. I even pitched to execs at Scott Free (you know, the guys who made Gladiator).
·        Entered parts of the work into the New York Book Festival contest and won honorable mention two years in a row.
·        Set up my own merchandise line. (And I don’t mean a mug with a pic on it. I scoured the world for the right guys to help create a 3D rendering of something special in my book that could then be printed by a 3D printer and sold).
·        Co-written a script for the movie.

Was my work on par with Wordsworth or Tolkien? No (I’m always striving to improve). Had I secured a movie deal by this point? No. Had I sold millions of items of merchandise? No. What I had was a property that was interesting, well researched, and not hum drum. I had put the hours in and created a package that could be sold and adapted. It was commercial.

2) Once I had my property, I didn’t carpet bomb the agent world

I wrote two query letters and landed an agent. No joke.

Target your property to the RIGHT agent—research what they enjoy. Honestly, I would say contact no more than two agents at a time. They want to have the exclusivity. They don’t want something that’s been round the block more times than the easy girl at your high school.

Also, agents talk to each other. The literary world is a small one, believe me. Ever heard of six degrees of freedom? Here, it’s one degree – at least if you have a good agent. So, if you send it out to every man, his wife, and their dog, you’re already done.

3) When I wrote my query letters, I didn’t pitch myself as an author

Every author is going to write in their query letter that they love books. They read all the time. They love the literary word. It moves their soul.

Your potential agent wants to know they can sell YOU as well as your property. The number one rule in business is: people buy people. If you can sell yourself, you’re half way to getting your property looked at.

Personally, I sold Children of the Fifth Sun on the fact my background and interests feed heavily into the content. My property and I are one. I hold a Bachelors in Marine Biology and have hand tagged sharks. I have a PhD in endocrinology. I now work for the pharma industry and help bring new cancer therapies to the world. I do this completely covered in tattoos while practicing Muay Thai and bringing up two small children. Most importantly, I have more ideas up my sleeve — that’s a biggie. Always have more ideas.

You are your brand.

So, there you have it. A boy from the UK projects, who was never taught grammar, managed to land an agent, a multiple-book deal, and have them optioned for film/TV. Now I have the connections and the army behind me. And believe me – it takes a village.

If I can do it, so can you.

Last tip: always be grateful. As hard as I worked to create my property and sell myself, if my agent Renee C. Fountain hadn’t taken the chance on me, or Vesuvian Books hadn’t decided to publish my debut, 140,000-word behemoth because they saw the multi-media potential, I’d be nowhere.

Good luck finding an agent and getting a publishing deal. One day, you could be the next J.K. Rowling or Stephen King.

Want a literary agent, publishing deal and an option for movies? Then don’t write a book. #Guestpost
Gareth Worthington holds a degree in marine biology, a PhD in endocrinology, and currently educates the World's doctors on new cancer therapies. Gareth has hand tagged sharks in California; won honorable mention at the New York Book Festival 2012 and 2013 for his writing; and trained in various martial arts, including Jeet Kune Do, Muay Thai, and MMA at the EVOLVE MMA gym in Singapore and Phoenix KampfSport Switzerland. Born in Plymouth UK, Worthington currently resides outside of Zurich, Switzerland.
Visit Gareth Online: Website Twitter Facebook Goodreads
Want a literary agent, publishing deal and an option for movies? Then don’t write a book. #Guestpost

2 comments:

  1. Such an informative post! Very interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Resounding thoughts that dovetail with my experiences in a provocative way.

    My series of short stories about small town life on the Cdn Prairies has been popular with UK readers. Go figure. It struck me that these distant audiences found in my stories of closely controlled Mennonite life a kind of *alien* appeal. Conflict, in the context of "love thy neighbour" is an uncommon paradigm and the setting is fresh for many.

    When I conflate Gareth's *property* approach with the reception my work has had and factor in the singular strength that a SERIALIZED presentation - delivered on the web - could have, it gives me a new way to consider marketing and "product delivery".

    Furthermore, as a baby boomer and a writer without an MFA, I am an outlier and had better be a maverick.

    Thanks for the disruptive thinking.

    ReplyDelete

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