Reading an excellent interview with producer Graham King in Produced by:

“For me, producing is about controlling your own destiny. And it’s starting small. It’s starting as a salesman, going from country to country, with literally a 35 millimeter frame, trying to sell a movie that no one has ever heard of. And it takes awhile. People come in to me for jobs and I ask, ‘What do you want to do? ‘I want to be a producer.’ I say, ‘Well, that’s 12 to 15 years of learning, if you’re lucky enough to learn from the right people. And all my staff here, I completely drill it into their head. ‘If you want to be a producer, great. Do this. Do that. Learn this. Learn that.’ Because that’s how it was for me. And if people hadn’t given me certain breaks and opened certain doors, I wouldn’t be here now. So it’s great to pass that on.”


That’s what we try to offer to our clients. Experience in the school of hard knocks!

Where Your Book Is Purchased Counts!

A client asked whether he should ask his friends, who are hellbent on pre-ordering his books on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, to wait and purchase the books from the bookstore when the publication is released. The answer is that if they buy the book from a bookstore that counts toward the bestseller lists, whereas purchasing online only counts for that website’s bestseller list. If they do purchase online, at least ask them to write a review! That counts in the grand scheme of things too.

E Mails

A client complained this morning that he gets five little emails from me instead of a “more efficient” one long email. There’s a reason. If I get one long email I can’t answer it until I can answer all the parts. That may take awhile. I’d much prefer a short email on a single subject so I can deal with that subject and get back to the sender without waiting. But that’s just me.

Determination

Yes, writers need determination. But determination isn’t enough. You need to DO things to make your career kick into gear. Even one thing a day becomes massive when enough months have gone by. Hesiod put it this way: “If you put a little upon a little soon it will become a lot.” EVEN BETTER, though, is doing the RIGHT things. Having a strategy. That lets you set priorities. Tactical energy is great, but stand on the hill first and ask yourself, “Where do I want to go?”

Just talked another client out of a job (mine!)

By telling her that she shouldn’t, given the details of her particular case, continue to fight the traditional publishing fight. That the publishers are in such a morass of confusion these days that all she’d be doing is losing control of her book (nonfiction, already successful in her lecture circuit) and dropping her income from the current $18 per copy she makes to about $1.50 per copy if she got it published. I believe she’ll be on kindle’s doorstep before I finish writing this sentence! Note, this isn’t true for everybody but it’s certainly true for her. She has her own avid following, is a businesswoman, and knows how to market herself (so that people will find the book on the internet). That’s the best of all possible worlds for e-publishing!

Every writer wants to send out a 10-page press release.

Forget it!

I know you can say 10 times as much about your book and 50 times as much about yourself. BUT, the rule is ONE PAGE about your book, ONE PAGE about yourself. Make them beg for more. They’re too busy to be hit with the more in your first press release.





Most Common Weaknesses of Screenplays Submitted for Representation

1) The format is NOT professional (which is a sign of rank amateurism, since professional format is easily ascertainable from any available script—and the Internet is full of sites that offer them free).

2) The writer hasn’t bothered to proofread his work. It’s filled with spelling errors, typos, and repetitions.

3) The protagonist isn’t clear after the first five pages. You still don’t know whose story you’re reading.

4) Even if you know the protagonist, by page 10 you still don’t know what his dramatic problem is—or you aren’t “involved” with him. You don’t know why you’re reading his or her story.

5) By the end of the script you neither know what the dramatic problem was nor how it’s solved by the story.

6) The obstacles to the hero’s mission aren’t strong enough, clear enough, or interesting enough.

7) The Point of View is unclear throughout the screenplay, or is “all over the place.”

8) The protagonist and antagonist aren’t written with stars in mind. Once we love the story, Hollywood wants to know: What great actor or actress will desperately want to play this role?

9) The story lacks credibility—characters don’t behave the way people like they’re supposed to be would behave in the situation you’ve created.

10) The script is filled with clich├ęs, or with on the nose expository dialogue and narrative.

11) The script isn’t 100% visual, filled with stage directions that aren’t “visual.”

12) The protagonist doesn’t grow from the beginning of the story to the end.

13) His or her antagonist isn’t clearly defined or singular enough to make a castable and saleable drama.

14) The climax and conclusion of the script aren’t strong enough, positive enough, and/or satisfying enough to warrant the investment of the reader/audience’s time.

Publicity

Sitting through a publicity meeting the other day, I reminded my clients of my standard rules for dealing with the press:

1. The host is giving you millions of dollars worth of publicity, but

2. Remember, “these people are not your friends.”

3. Every question is a trick question.

4. Pause before you answer.

5. Make sure you get across YOUR AGENDA.

6. Set the hook to make the audience want to read more of what you’re saying.

7. Make them want to interview you again.

8. Talk in “sound bites,” memorable short sentences.

9. Show your gratitude.

10. Don’t do the interview AT ALL if your books are not available yet for purchase.

11. Don’t assume your interviewer knows all about you—OR your book.