The Publishing Biz

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.

WiRL: “A 5x Multiple on this Particular Slot Machine”

Mr. MomEpisode 61: The One without a Daddy Blogosphere

Does a debut have to be big? Guess what: Your sales aren’t determined by the quality of your book. Are celebrity memoirs worth the massive cost? Morgan has opinions about Captain America: Civil War. The (missing) narrative of the Stay-At-Home Dad.

Stories I Never Told: Archvillain

archvillain heads
So, as I indicated recently, the third Archvillain book, Yesterday Again, was never intended to be the finale of that series. I had always meant for the series to go on for quite a while, possibly as many as ten books.

Sadly, reality intruded on my fantasy. The books just didn’t sell well enough to justify further volumes, and the publisher pulled the plug (as is its right).

But I get a lot of people asking me if there will ever be more Archvillain books, and since the answer is “No,” I figure there’s no harm in relating what might have been, had sales warranted. Settle in — this is a long one… [Read more…]