I am thrilled to announce that I have signed a deal with two movie producers for the Feud trilogy. The process is really interesting and I thought my readers might want to share in this journey so I decided to create a series of blog posts so you can come along for the ride.
So let’s start at the beginning. How did this happen? Did I hire an agent to shop the movie rights? Nope. Like everything, it was a bit of luck and a bit of following my heart.
It actually started with the audiobook. I may write another series on producing an audiobook, but for now, all you need to know is that when you produce an audiobook, narrators send in auditions for a script that I created with several different scenes from the book. There are two ways to pay narrators: you can pay them based on the finished length of the book (9 hours, 11 minutes for the Sparks) or split the royalty earned on audio sales.
I’m a young author so it is much riskier for a narrator to split royalties. What if no one buys the audiobook? They basically just spent a couple months in the recording booth for peanuts. Unless they know it’s going to be a bestseller, most narrators prefer to get paid by the finished hour as it is guaranteed money. But it’s expensive and a lot of authors can’t afford to pay that upfront fee. But I work with a lot of teens that have difficulty reading so we had two goals. One to create a great audiobook for my readers and second, to find a narrator that could make learning to read as engaging as possible. So, we were biting the bullet and offering to pay per finished hour. As a result, we got a lot of auditions from some really great narrators—many who are quite well known in the industry.
We spent hours listening to auditions and many of the finalists were equally great. We were asking ourselves, “How will we ever choose?” And then we listened to Jon Eric Preston. As soon as we heard it, we all shared a collective breath of fresh air. “That’s it!” I said. Preston just got it. His character voices mirrored the voices in my head as I wrote each scene. Preston’s narration is incredible. He brought the story to life in a way that allowed us all to visualize the action as if we were watching a movie.
But Preston was a fairly new narrator and didn’t have a big following. We were torn. Some of the bigger name narrators had followings that would help with audio sales. Sales are already a tough battle for me as there are millions of books and audiobooks on Amazon. How do readers find my books? A narrator with a following could help drive new readers to my books. But Preston’s audition rocked. What should I do? We debated for days but in the end, I just had to follow my heart. I wanted to give my readers the best audiobook possible. And that meant Jon Eric Preston. If you haven’t listened to the audiobook, do it! You’ll understand what I mean. You can get it here: The Sparks Audiobook or Flames Audiobook
When I speak to groups, I always talk about following your passion. And that’s what we did with the audiobook. We picked the best narrator even though it meant sales would be an uphill battle. We wanted the best audiobook that we could create and let the chips fall where they may.
But something amazing happened. Preston has 10 and 12 year old boys. He read the books to his kids and they loved them. The whole family fell in love with the series and Preston became a passionate advocate for the series. He’s an actor in LA so he sent the audiobook to a friend from college that is now a successful creative producer in LA.
She listened to the audiobook and thanks to Preston’s incredible narration, she could picture the movie and she fell in love with the idea too!!
So Preston called me and asked if I was interested in setting up a meeting to discuss movie rights. Movie rights are a whole other topic and we’ll dive in to that in our next blog post. For now, I’ll just summarize by saying, it never fails to follow your heart. Even if it hadn’t led to a movie deal, I know we created the best audiobook possible for our readers. And if you always do your best work, good things will eventually follow.
Here’s to following your passion,