There Are No Limits
I’m talking about limits on what you can write.
There is no essential difference between writing a short story, a novella, a novel, a teleplay, a screenplay, or an audio book. (And yes, you can write something aimed at being an audio book only.) The limits here really come from two places…
First, they are marketed differently. If you, as an example, approach a motion picture production company with a screenplay the same way you would approach a publisher with a novel, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Second, many writers THINK they are different and say something like, “I can’t do that!” to themselves.
To solve these problems, let’s look at each but in reverse order…
There’s not much I can do to convince you that you can write (let’s say) a screenplay. If you really believe you can’t do it, odds are you can’t. Let me just say that I think you CAN do it.
As for the marketing side, there are a couple of ways to do that…you can have multiple agents to shop your work around in different market segments. You can have one agent do it all, but I have never heard of a traditional agent that does this. Or you can get an actual representative to handle the sales.
No matter how you do it, there is a ton of money on the table here. For the last eight years or so, I’ve been writing scripts for “unscripted reality shows”. No, you didn’t read it wrong. In a nutshell, there are about 20-30 episodes per year for a typical show. I get well into five figures per episode. I can write an entire season in a couple of weeks. In other words, I can count on about $1-million a year per series. That junk is a no-brainer and easy money. As the old conman said, “There are pigeons to be plucked.”
And also remember the other less obvious markets like video games, other RPG venues, and similar things. They all need special approaches by the writer, but they are fairly easy to do and represent a pile of money waiting for a taker.
Then there’s the cosplay segment…you get a royalty every time someone puts on the costume, though there may be good reason to take a pass on the royalty and not make a dime on the cosplay deal. It’s called publicity.
I can go on and on about the upside to being diverse, but I’ll bet you’re more interested in the downside, and there is one…
Most authors are control freaks. We see our books as our children and don’t want any changes. We want total creative control. Well, folks, when you branch out into screen and teleplays in particular, you may need to give up that control, at least at first.
As an example, you might spend ten pages in a novel setting the scene, painting the picture for the reader. In a screenplay, you will say something like, “Fred enters Mary’s office.” It is the job of the director and actors to create the setting for the viewer. You, as the writer, are out of the loop in most cases, though I have worked with a fair number of directors who want me sitting next to them as much as possible while shooting…they want to make sure the scene fits my image.
Some writers can’t deal with that, and it’s a shame.
They lose a lot of money and a huge audience.