The Publishing Biz

WiRL: “As if life matters”

Episode 65: The One with Melissa

Special guest Melissa Walker (Unbreak My Heart, Let’s Pretend We Never Met) fills in for Morgan! We discuss different ways of getting published, writing with more than one kid, and how writing a book doesn’t prepare you for the next one. Plus: On spec vs. proposal, and the horror of ranking.

Booklist on The Secret Sea

The Secret Sea cover

The first review of The Secret Sea is in, from the folks at Booklist! Check it out (emphasis mine):

Even though he’s grown up in New York City, 12-year-old Zak has lived a fairly sheltered life. He has a heart condition that has caused his parents, now in the middle of a contentious divorce, to keep tight tabs on him—and they would only be tighter if Zak’s parents knew he was hearing voices. But when Zak has a premonition of the subway filling with water and the mysterious voice he thinks of as his guardian angel warns him to run, Zak listens, only to find himself trapped in an alternate-universe New York with his two best friends, Moira and Khalid. Facing dangers from both this new world, which isn’t kind to women, and the increasingly untrustworthy voices in Zak’s head, the three struggle to find a way home that won’t have cataclysmic consequences. Lyga (After the Red Rain, 2015) returns to middle grade with a darkly compelling, if occasionally complicated, look at family, morality, and the long-term effects even seemingly small choices can have. A thoughtful—and thought-provoking—piece of science fiction.

“Occasionally complicated?” I was going for “always complicated.” 😉 Ah, well.

WiRL: “You’ve gotta keep up with the other kids”

Dad on computer while kid plays with iPad

(Image: NYT)

Episode 63: The One with Sensible Screentime

Morgan damns Barry with faint praise. Mornings! Showers! Is the “limit your kid’s screentime” notion an anti-feminist plot? Barry’s theory that multiple TVs lead to divorce. Plus, Morgan preps for her first writing conference…and makes a soul-searching confession.

Why isn’t there an I Hunt Killers movie/TV show?

IHK_movie_theaterOf late, I have noticed a certain topic coming up on social media. And it boils down to the question at the top of this page.

For those of you new to the series, rest assured: It was attempted and it failed. There’s no one to blame — things just don’t work out sometimes.

I get it, though — if you’ve read the books and you really, really liked them1 then you’re sitting around going, “WTF, Hollywood? These books are perfect for (as one person wrote to me) ‘a television show or series of blockbuster movies.’ Get on it!”

You want a movie or a TV series. Hell, so do I.

Here’s the deal: There are a ton of books that would make great TV or great movies. A ton of them. Thousands of books are published each year; mere hundreds of movies are made. Not everything that’s worthy will be chosen.

And in general, so far as I can tell, Hollywood decides to make a movie or a TV show from a book based on one of two factors:

  1. Someone very powerful really loves the book and insists on turning it into a film, or
  2. The book is a mega-super-duper-bestseller, so Hollywood knows there’s a built-in audience for it, making it a risk worth taking

It’s not just about “It’s really good and would make a great movie!”

As to #1: Well, look, if any of you out there are close personal friends with someone powerful in Hollywood, sure, go ahead and hand that person a copy of I Hunt Killers. Because if Brad Pitt or Reese Witherspoon or Ryan Reynolds or Jennifer Lawrence read and love it, it’ll become a movie. I guarantee it.

But so far, that hasn’t happened.

As to #2: Hey, I know you loved the books, but we need a couple hundred thousand of your friends to love it, too. Or at least to buy it. Don’t get me wrong: I Hunt Killers is without a doubt the most successful book of my career; it even landed at #3 on the bestsellers list! But what makes something a “hit” in publishing doesn’t always measure up to something that will get Hollywood’s attention. As best I can tell, I’d need to sell four or five times more copies of I Hunt Killers to get Hollywood to sit up and take notice. And at this late date, with the book being so old, the odds of hundreds of thousands of readers suddenly discovering it are pretty slim.

The news isn’t all bad, though. There’s still option #1. Rest assured: My agent is always working to put the book in front of the right people, and even though we’ve had no luck thus far…we only have to get lucky once.



  1. And thank you for that!

WiRL: “Scotland, My Favorite Country”

Episode 62: The One with Eight Followers, Maybe Twelvesunset over water

Morgan is obsessed with Snapchat. Follow-up on programming your brain and baby paranoia. Leia climbs on a truck. Vacations are good. New ideas for stories! The scourge of outlining. Morgan publishes an essay. Pitching vs. blogging. The frustration of being ignored by editors and agents.