Join me at Pitchfest!

Leo and Carey Great Gatsby

Hey, if it happened to F. Scott Fitzgerald, it can happen to you.

One of America's most celebrated authors died penniless, his greatest opus, The Great Gatsby, nearly forgotten…

Except by Hollywood.

Since his death, his book,  has been adapted for the screen an extraordinary five times.

It's also been an opera, a ballet, a musical, a straight play, and get this: two video games.

 Can you increase the odds that your book will find its way onto the silver screen?

Is a novel an alternative route to get your screenplay into the hands of producers?

The answer to both these questions is a resounding yes. To find out how, join me in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 1, 2013, where I'll giving a workshop with the incomparably divine Laurie Scheer at Pitchfest called, "Adapting your Screenplay as a Book" .

Details are below.

It'll be worth it,

— Josie

 

Photo: Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan
in Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby 

Adapting Your Screenplay as a Book
4:30pm – 6:00pm – Academy Five
with Josie Brown & Laurie Scheer
So, you’ve pitched your screenplay and a few agents have said, “I could sell that idea if it were a novel.” Know that you’re not alone. So, what should you do? Josie Brown, best-selling novelist and Laurie Scheer, d-girl extraordinaire and publishing mentor, guide you through a workshop presentation that includes in-class exercises, tangible examples, and an extensive Q&A segment to help you determine how your screenplay will look as a book. With the majority of studio projects being produced from existing properties and franchises (books, comics, games, apps, etc.), adapting your screenplay into book form is an option many screenwriters have found success doing—and many others are considering it. Before you begin the process of writing prose vs. script, there are a few elements you need to know.

 
Click here to register for Pitchfest 

Click below to see a trailer from the movie, THE GREAT GATSBY


NaNoWriMo Tip #11: Reach out to other authors. Here’s how.

author-group

I got a very sweet email from a reader once, who asked if I could go to an online post where her sister had written a book, read it, and give her encouragement.

I have a sister. If I weren't already published, I could see her wanting to help me in this way.

I had to decline, for several reasons: I had a pending deadline to meet with my editor, and a book launch. When under deadline, I have to keep my head down, and doing my own plotting and scheming.

In fact, I shouldn't even be writing this post, but it touched me so much that one sister would reach out to a perfect stranger to help another.

There are other reasons published authors decline. For example, if they followed through on every request they got to the same question, they would never be writing at all. Others decline for legal reasons: they never want someone coming back and saying, “She used my plot!”

So did Shakespeare, and he's been dead for four hundred years. Go figure.

If she — or you — are  serious about her writing, that is, if you see writing fiction more as a craft (and possibly a livelihood) than a hobby, you should immediately join (or at least go to a first couple of meetings of) one of the many writers organization that nurture aspiring writers, such as Romance Writers of America or Mystery Writers of America.

Here's the beauty part; you have to write in these genres in order to join.

There are local chapters all over the country (and in RWA, they even have national online chapters for specific genres, such as YA, Paranormal, Regency, etc).

By doing so, you will learn from others the ins and outs of the craft (plotting, dialogue, voice, etc.) as well as the “business” end: how to team up with a lit agent, who will put you in front of an editor who “gets” your voice ; or how to self-publish, if you are anxious to see it out in the world in a shorter time frame. (Going the agent to editor to pub date could take two years or more, on average).

These organizations have guest speakers who are published authors who share with you their own bumps in the road on their journeys to publication. You'll take workshops. You'll listen to literary agents explain their end of the business.

And if they sell what you write, you can give them your elevator pitch. Who knows, it may be a match made in heaven.

This, my friend, is an aspiring writer's life.

(A published author's life is a whole OTHER post. But not for today. Like I said, I've gotta keep my head down. As if.)

Within a writers' group, she'll make friends with other writers, both published and aspiring, who may be looking for “critique partners:”  others who will read it and give advice on where she can strengthen a plot point, or her dialogue.

In other words, an ongoing support group.

Almost every published author I know (including me) has found some success in this route, so I want to pass it forward.

My very own RWA Chapter, in San Francisco, actually put together a book for aspiring writers. Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections, is filled with insightful essays of life in the trenches. You should check it out. In fact, you'll find an essay or two from me in there.

I've also written a slew of creative writing tips in celebration of last year's National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

If you don't have time to go this route, perfectly understandable. I wish you luck on your own road  to publication. I'm just hoping to pass along a shortcut in an industry which is changing so rapidly that you need a hovercraft to get to your destination: publishing novels, and being successful at it.

Warp speed, writer!

— Josie

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Read yesterday's tip…

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I've got a question for you, and be honest:  Have you psyched yourself out about writing? If so, can you now psyche yourself UUP, and START writing? 

Happy National Novel Writing Month,

— Josie

What writers should do when they are in the 99% (of publishing’s many norms): stay in the game.

Sfarwabook[1]Because of a very fortunate turn of events this year in my writing career, I was asked to speak to other authors who had been my support system in the ups and downs of my 7-year career: the San Francisco chapter of the Romance Writers of America. This group is filled with an even mix of aspiriting and already published successful writers, all of whom have been there for each other with inspiring words, great advice, and a shoulder to cry on.

Yes, it was my turn to give back.

Here's what I told them (in the few moments when I wasn't dithering off-topic, on such things as house renovations from hell, book promotion, instore co-op and other necessary evils of success for the chosen few–

But then caffeine on a belly of oatmeal will do that to you. Next time: fill the ol' belly with pancakes first. Oh yeah: and look at your notes every once in a while…)

_____________________________________

The year 2011 did not start out well for me. I was one of many midlist authors who had a novel under contract  with publishing house, but then it was dropped as part of a loss-saving attempt in light of the Borders bankruptcy.

I made sure that my own private pity party was short and bittersweet, then turned my attention on promoting the novel which was due out in April. I was proud of the buzz I'd already built prior to its release, which turned into a 10-market tour hosted by women who had the same career as Katie, the heroine in my book The Baby Planner.

As far as my editor was concerned, it paid off — enough for her to ask me to lunch. As we nibbled lady-sized salads at the Bergdorf-Goodman Restaurant high over Central Park, she asked, "So what can I see next?"

This is why it's always a smart idea to promote promote promote your books, no matter what your publishing house is (or isn't) doing for it.

Knowing that you need to publish or perish, I was also smart enough to take the great advice of my writer pal, Bella Andre, who has hit it out of the park indie-pub'ing her re-acquired backlist and some new books. She convinced me that a novel which had had four editors salivating for it- (until it got shot down in committee) was the perfect test for me to indie-publish. The first book in that series, The Housewife Assassin's Handbook, is out now.

Thus far I'm loving the sales. The second in the series, The Houswife Assassin's Guide to Gracious Killing will be out by the end of the month. So yes, authors: Independent publishing is one way to watch your orphans thrive.

Writing novels is not for the faint of heart. I truly believe you need a wonderful agent to match you with the right editor: someone loves your writer's voice and your story, and wants to help make it the best book possible before showing it to the world.

But even a great agent and a superlative editor can't do the one thing that keeps an author writing for a living wage. For that, you need a legion of readers who fall in love with your characters, and wants to see more of them, and of you.

Thanks to my wonderful agent, Holly Root, who saw the potential in my books to translate into different media, my novels were shown to a talent agency which felt that they did indeed have the potential to be adapted into movies or as a TV series.

Secret Lives400Well, they were right. One of Hollywood biggest producers, Jerry Bruckheimer, has optioned one of my books, Secret Lives of Husbands and Wives, for a television show that will run on ABC.

So yes: this year has been a rollercoaster. But I was one of the lucky ones.

I'm making  a living wage as a writer.

These readers are out there. I know authors who exhaust themselves trying to find them: touring, social networking, responding to comments and emails.

I strongly feel that, with the changes that are occuring in the distribution of books — the surge of online book sales, coupled with the decline in the number of brick-and-mortar bookstores, not to mention the number of books they take on — will also change the role of publishers:

They will have to  get more agressive — and smarter — in how they promote the books they publish.

I have no doubt that they will soon publish less authors. But in order to thrive, they'll have to make the books they do publish as profitable as possible. This means focusing on marketing and promotion as well as distribution. They need to recognize niche markets for specific authors and their books, and court them…

Something that authors do, now, for themselves…if they're smart.

And could to even better if they had the financial resources and personpower of their pub houses.

Every author writing for that imprint is a brand.

Every book is a product under that brand.

This is, simply, Marketing 101.

Which brings me to you, the author:

If you're a writer, be prepared to spend most of your career in the 99 percent.

Everyone in this room writes, because we must write. This need to write comes from the depth of our souls.

Ninety-nine percent of the world doesn't have this desire. (Thank gawd! Aren't there already enough of us, in this very competitive field?)

So, consider yourself in the one percent.

Already, I applaud you.

A reality we all know: ninety-nine percent of aspiring writers will not get published by a New York publishing house. All the more reason I want to applaud the many I see this room who have made it into the one percent who have been traditionally published.

Of all traditionally published writers, how many have been able — or will be able – to make writing a fully-fledged career that pays the bills and puts food on the table? How many will still be published ten or twenty years from now?

I'm guessing that number is closer to one percent than 99 percent.

And of those who are lucky enough to make writing their vocation as well as their avocation, I'm guessing that 99 percent of them will never have the joy of learning that their book has been optioned and produced in an entertainment medium, such as film or television.

But here's the thing: If you ever want to be in THE 1 PERCENT (of the 1 percent who write; of the 1 percent who get an agent; of the one percent who get a publishing contract; of the 1 percent who can make a living writing; of the one percent who may enjoy watching their characters come alive in the small screen or the silver screen) you have to stay in the game.

You have to write.

Afterward, you have to edit, and re-edit, and edit again, until your manuscript is a page-turner.

Then you have to query a large, well-researched list of agents with your manuscript.

Once you get that agent, you have to to listen to him or her as to what else has to be done to it so that s/he will be enthusiastic when it is sent out to editors (remember: agents work on a commission, so they don't get paid until your book sells; they are putting sweat equity in you as well).

And once your book is published, you have to promote it.

And you have to write more books.

So, yeah: writing is the easy part.

Staying in the game is the hard part.

Last. Author. Standing.

 – Josie

(c) 2011 Josie Brown. All rights reserved.

The top photo is the book cover for Writing Romance: The Ultimate Guide on Craft, Creation and Industry Connections, which is published by the San Francisco Chapter of the Romance Writers of America

HAH Hanging Man V2 Read an excerpt of
THE HOUSEWIFE ASSASSIN'S HANDBOOK 
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