Your Novel as a MOVIE? Not as Far-Fetched as One Might Imagine


Last week when I was in Los Angeles I had the great pleasure of meeting with a long-time friend and supporter of mine, Hollywood producer Joel Eisenberg  and he taught a fantastic class at the Writers’ Digest Conference about how to get your book made into film, whether on TV or the big screen. I begged him to teach that same class to you guys and since he is kind and generous and an all-round amazing human being, he agreed.

So why is it that I stalked a Hollywood producer to teach this class? Because we are in exciting times to be a writer.

I like making industry predictions and thus far I have been pretty spot on and I hope that’s the case here, too. Technology has completely altered our world. We have not seen such drastic change in human civilization since the invention of the Gutenberg Press. Technology has plowed over the old and ushered in something entirely new.

We’ve seen the fall of traditional media and the rise of on-line media. Instead of people reading the newspaper in the morning, they scroll their news feeds on social media outlets. They go to their favorite blogs.

Instead of a handful of fashion elites being able to pick and cultivate the next Super Model, fashion is becoming far more democratic. Instagram is producing our cover models, not modeling agencies. Women are flocking to blogs and Instagram and Pinterest for beauty and fashion instead of the glossy magazines they once subscribed to.

We’ve seen the Big Six dwindle to the less impressive Big Five. Borders is dead and Barnes & Noble isn’t far behind. Even if B & N doesn’t go under, they certainly aren’t crouching on every corner like they used to. This means physical point of sales locations are fewer than ever before (though I wouldn’t fret because I think the bookstore will come back in a big way, just reinvented).

A large part of why NY has suffered is they forgot they were in the story and information business, not the paper business. They needed to cater to readers (consumers) not distributors. Amazon understood that and it’s why they’ve become a juggernaut. Strangely? The same phenomenon is happening on the opposite coast…

Hollywood is Next


I actually saw the beginnings of this about two years ago when Amazon produced the original series Bosch (based off Michael Connelly’s series about Detective Harry Bosch).

Realize, this isn’t thirty years ago where equipment and technology was so cost-prohibitive only a handful of mega-funded-few could be in the game. Technology has evened the production playing field (which is precisely what happened in publishing). Additionally, a handful of conglomerates no longer hold the monopoly on distribution (again, what happened in publishing).

But beyond this…

Hollywood has been doing a lot of what NY has been doing and for much the same reason. They have overhead. They have a lot of people on the payroll who won’t work for compliments and glitter. They have to make a profit and the best way to make a profit is to figure out what sells. How do they figure out what will sell? They look at what has already SOLD and then try to make an educated guess.

It isn’t personal. It’s a business.

The Michael Bay Effect

Hollywood makes most of its money off the first week a movie is released and off audiences then BUYING that movie and merchandising, etc. The problem is, that the audiences that watch the most movies, who are most likely to go to a movie over and over and over and then download that movie are young males.

This is how we have Transformers IX and Smurfs V.

This is what happens when Michael Bay gets a hold of stories and yes I am going to hell and you are too because you laughed 😛 …


And the Michael Bay Effect is all well and good, but there are three problems:

Missing a Lot of Good Stories

Hollywood knows they can probably make money making another Transformers movie, but there are a lot of good scripts or novels that could be turned into scripts that get overlooked. It’s just too risky and that’s how we end up with another remake. They know they can make money on doing yet another rendition of Freaky Friday.

Small is the New Big

When I was growing up the quickest way to know an actor’s career was over was you saw him appear on television. It was a mark of failure. Today? That is no longer true and the best acting, the best stories are actually on the small screen. I think in the “old days” when we had a lot of human interaction and weren’t isolated from others as we are today we were happy with a 90 minute movie.

Today, I think we are seeing humans auto-correct. There is a primal need for human intimacy, one that technology has taken from us. The more connected we get the more isolated we’ve become.

We just don’t get the “realness” with 140 characters, a meme or yet another picture of cookies on Pinterest. We are lonely. We long for substance and 90 minute stories just are incapable of delivering the intimacy we seek.

It is why MILLIONS of people bond over Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, West World, Mad Men, Breaking Bad and on and on. The small screen lets us connect to characters in a way that is very close to the experience os reading a novel. In a novel we spend an average of 15-20 hours with a storyline and characters, watching them struggle and fail but then triumph.

Now take a season of 15 episodes at an hour a piece…

15 hours 🙂 .


Niche Business is Good Business

How much money does a movie need to make to be successful? Well I am no expert but I think a good rule of thumb is if it makes more in sales than it did to create it? That’s a winner.

So if it only makes a million dollars, but it only took a half million to produce, that’s a good thing. And instead of banking the whole farm on one super-star-laden-CGI-encrusted-mega-movie, why not take the same budget and spread that over ten smaller endeavors and reach the forgotten niche audiences?

Most people love a good story but not all people want 90 minutes of robots in space. Robots in space are great, but there are massive audiences who are not being reached because no one is offering them content that resonates with them.

Hollywood has been on a continuing trend of being in the red and much of that has to do with their business model and the rise of independent films. Amazon sees that and is capitalizing. They aren’t banking on the movie being in theaters. They are creating excellent content to stream free with Amazon Prime and in doing this, they can offer a lot more shows far faster and with much more diversity.

They can take risks because they aren’t paying for Angelina Joile to be the star.

Go scroll your Prime and look at how many Original Amazon Productions are popping up. Even kids shows. Amazon is not only entertaining scripts that probably would have never gotten seen by Hollywood proper and they are also doing a lot of adaptations of novels. They are looking to BOOKS that will make great television.

Additionally, other more niche cable networks are looking at books and series for development. Joel’s fantasy series The Chronicles of Ara is currently in production and is being made into a miniseries by Ovation because it is the perfect content for their audience.

Entertainment is Bigger Business Than EVER


Holly wood has always looked to books for inspiration (Hellooo? Harry Potter?). But this is a whole new level.

Audiences are consuming entertainment at unprecedented rates and Amazon knows that and they are cashing in.

I see them doing this at a rapidly accelerating pace as more and more content is streamed.

But? Hollywood isn’t out of it yet and where I am seeing innovation on that front is in the up-and-coming actors turned producer/director.

Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman have adapted Big Little Lies for an HBO series. Resse Witherspoon has also optioned Luckiest Girl Alive and In a Dark Dark Wood and they are currently in development for major motion pictures.

Hollywood has always looked to books for movies, but now? There are a LOT more movies being made and a heck of a lot faster so the demand is only going to increase.

There is a long list of super successful films made off successful books: Gone Girl, The Martian, The Girl on the Train and all of this is to say that it is a really awesome time to be a writer. Whether it is Amazon looking for series material or hungry new producer/directors looking to make a name on Hollywood, or a cable channel wanting fresh stories, they are looking to books so why not yours?

Knowledge is power so I hope you will check out Joel’s class and next time we will talk about the actual writing and ways we can make our stories more appealing for film.

What are your thoughts? Are you addicted to series too? I find them to be far deeper and prefer them to movies. They give me time to really care about the characters. What are some of your favorite book to movie/TV adaptations?

I love hearing from you!

And to prove it and show my love, for the month of NOVEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.

TREAT YOURSELF!!!! Check out the Upcoming Classes

Remember that ALL CLASSES come with a FREE RECORDING so you can listen over and over. So even if you can’t make it because the holidays are crazy? No excuses! Take time to be good to yourself!

How to Get Your Book Made Into Film

Class Title: How to Get Your Book Made Into Film
Instructor: Writer/Producer Joel Eisenberg
Price: $45 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: WEDNESDAY November 30th, 2016 1:00 PM E.S.T. to 3:00 P.M. EST

How do you cull the essence of your novel into a feature film? How do you expand your short story for a television series? Finally, when the written adaptation is complete, how do you navigate the Hollywood maze for real money and credits?

Joel Eisenberg has been there. As an independent producer of over 20 years, Joel has developed content or sold projects to networks such as TNT, CBS-Decades, FOX Studios, Ovation TV and more. As the former head of EMO Films at Paramount Studios, Joel is also a professional networker, having hosted entertainment network events at the Paramount lot, as well as Warner Brothers, Sunset-Gower Studios and more. His work has been featured in many media outlets, including CNN, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC, The Los Angeles Times, TV Guide and even Fangoria.

Important Class for After NaNoWriMo! You might have a New Year’s Resolution to query a novel. Doesn’t matter. Treat yourself to an early Christmas present!

Pitch Perfect—How to Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS

Class Title: Pitch Perfect—How To Write a Query Letter & Synopsis that SELLS
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $45 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 2nd, 2015 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

You’ve written a novel and now are faced with the two most terrifying challenges all writers face. The query and the synopsis.

Query letters can be daunting. How do you sell yourself? Your work? How can you stand apart without including glitter in your letter?


Good question. We will cover that and more!

But sometimes the query is not enough.

Most writers would rather cut their wrists with a spork than be forced to write the dreaded…synopsis. Yet, this is a valuable skills all writers should learn. Synopses are often requested by agents and editors and it is tough not to feel the need to include every last little detail. Synopses are great for not only keeping your writing on track, but also for pitching your next book and your next to that agent of your choice.

This class will help you learn the fundamentals of writing a query letter and a synopsis. What you must include and what doesn’t belong.

So make your writing pitch perfect with these two skills!

Plotting for Dummies

Class Title: Plotting for Dummies
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $35 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: SATURDAY December 3rd, 2016 2:30 PM E.S.T. to 4:30 P.M. EST

Are you tired of starting book after book only to lose steam and be unable to finish? Do you finish, but then keep getting rejected? Do you finish, but it takes an ungodly amount of time? Sure, great you land an agent for your book, but you don’t have FIVE YEARS to write the next one?

This class is here to help. The writers who are making an excellent income are not doing it off ONE book, rather they are harnessing the power of compounded sales. This class is designed to help you learn to plot leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner (even for PANTSERS!)

Learn the basic elements of plot, various plotting techniques, how to test your seed idea to see if it is even strong enough to be a novel and MORE!

Blogging for Authors

Class Title: Blogging for Authors
Instructor: Kristen Lamb
Price: $50 USD Standard
Where: W.A.N.A. Digital Classroom
When: FRIDAY December 9th, 7:00 PM E.S.T. to 9:00 P.M. EST

Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.

The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.

The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.

This class is going to cover:

How author blogs work. What’s the difference in a regular blog and an author blog?
What are the biggest mistakes/wastes of time?
How can you effectively harness the power of algorithms (no computer science degree required)?
What do you blog about? What topics will engage readers and help create a following?
How can you harness your author voice using a blog?
How can a blog can help you write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner?
How do you keep energized years into your blogging journey?
How can a blog help you sell more books?
How can you cultivate a fan base of people who love your genre?
Blogging doesn’t have to be hard. This class will help you simplify your blog and make it one of the most enjoyable aspects of your writing career.


For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. Loved the book — loved the series.

  2. I initially had dreams my “Vampire Syndrome” saga could be the next Twilight.
    Now, I want to be the next “Byzantium”, “Only Lovers Left Alive”, “What We Do In The Shadows” of “A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night.”
    As you phrased it, Niche Business is Good Business.
    Each of these films have made money and received favorable reviews.
    You don’t have to be Epic to be Excellent!

    • Jennifer Brown on November 11, 2016 at 1:28 pm
    • Reply

    Signed up for the class! Really excited about this one (though who wouldn’t be? My book in film? Yes please! LOL) I’ve also noticed Netflix and Hulu doing this. Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas is currently being produced for a Hulu Original series. Netflix has SCORES of Netflix Original shows and movies and many of them are based on books too.

  3. Never considered the television or movie angle. Still trying to move out of the pre-published category.

  4. Excellent article! Having any of my books made into films or TV series is my ultimate dream

  5. Reblogged this on The Glorious Outsiders and commented:
    Very interesting and inspiring blog from Kristen Lamb. It would be my ultimate dream to see any of my books as a film or TV Series. Really want to sign up for this class too, but not got the pennies at the moment!!

    • Karen Kanter on November 11, 2016 at 1:55 pm
    • Reply

    I would like to take the course about how to get your book made into a film. Can I sign up for the course if I cannot do Nov. from 1:00-3:00. I also don’t have a clue where to find W.A.N.A. digital classroom.

    Help! Thanks, Karen

    On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 11:49 AM, Kristen Lamb’s Blog wrote:

    > Author Kristen Lamb posted: ” Last week when I was in Los Angeles I had > the great pleasure of meeting with a long-time friend and supporter of > mine, Hollywood producer Joel Eisenberg and he taught a fantastic class at > the Writers’ Digest Conference about how to get your book made” >

    1. You get the recording for free so it doesn’t matter if you miss live. Also, the classroom is entered through the Big Button Portal on the WANA home page. Instructions are sent to you on registration.

  6. Reblogged this on Nancy Segovia and commented:

  7. I do agree it’s an exciting time to be a writer, and I just hope I can use all the opportunities that are out there now. My stories don’t do well online *cries*

  8. Kristen, I’m interested in Joel’s class but have a conflict on Nov. 30. Will you be offering it again?

    1. I really don’t know. I know you get the recording for free with purchase but it really will have to do with Joel and whether this class sells well enough to offer it again.

    • annaerishkigal on November 11, 2016 at 5:58 pm
    • Reply

    I just finished a 6-month long screenwriting course for ScreenwriterU for exactly this sentiment. It’s my gut instinct our storytelling will gravitate onto the screen. Not just big-screen, but mini-series, television series, and even youtube shorts. My great dream is to see my epic fantasy series on the big screen like Game of Thrones, but that’s not going to happen if writers don’t understand what makes a marketable visual-story.

    On the other hand, after 6 months in the screenwriting class, all I heard was ‘take free work, work for free, do slave labor for the producers, tell somebody else’s story.’ The people teaching it mean well, but I’m part of that huge contingent of people who unplugged a few years back from the television and movies because it grew so tiresome to see remakes of remakes of remakes all the time. People are hungry for stuff that’s original and fresh and speaks to THEM. Not just the next blockbuster.

    The screenwriting class had this $2500 upsell to ‘sell your script’ and I decided to pass. It reminded me too much of traditional publishing. When I tried to voice that opinion, that I loved what they were teaching us, but please stop all the ‘go work for free telling somebody else’s story because special snowflake unicorn farts’ I pretty much got poo-poohed.

    I started writing because I have my OWN stories to tell. And I started screenwriting for the same reason. If a movie gets made, it’s going to be because I write a book that develops its own audience. I just novelized my screenplay into a book and published it, and now I’m doing it with my second screenplay. The screenplay format came first because I want it to do both (thanks for teaching me how screenwriter peeps), but it will be the book that will open doors. Not a $2,500 ‘learn to talk to agents’ class.

    Yeah … been there … done that with writing books. I can see the screenwriting on the wall and it says ‘Amazon Studios’ all over it.

      • annaerishkigal on November 11, 2016 at 6:04 pm
      • Reply

      And P.S. – after having just spent 6 months in a feature filmwriting class, that looks like a really useful ‘how to screenwrite’ class syllabus. Just signed up 🙂

  9. I’m a “recovering” screenwriter (turned novelist), and I can say with authority that with very little exception these days, Hollywood studios don’t buy original material — what are known as “spec scripts”; they’d rather sequelize and “reboot” preexisting properties ad infinitum. As such, there is a very cynical movement underway to write novels that aren’t really novels at all; they are “backdoor specs.” They are written for the sole purpose of being sold to a movie studio or prodco. I would advise anyone writing a novel to do so for the love of that particular medium, and not with an eye toward selling the film rights. Write a great book with a commercial hook, and Hollywood will come a-callin’, but don’t write a spec screenplay masquerading as a novel. Many are doing just that, and Hollywood sees right through it.

    Take my word for it: If Hollywood had had a say in the development of The Martian and Fifty Shades, those projects never would have sold let alone been written in the first place. A sci-fi story about mathematical equations and an S&M take on Twilight? I don’t think so. Weir and James, had they been screenwriters pitching these projects, would’ve never been advised by their representation to have followed through on such concepts. But they wrote to their passions, with no presumption of Hollywood interest, and the authenticity of their novels (without getting into a debate about the creative merits of Fifty Shades) is what made readers — and then movie studios — take notice. Just write the best novel you can, with all the love, passion, and creativity for the medium you can summon, and don’t fill yourself with hope that Hollywood will care. They’ve got Batman and Star Wars and Fast & Furious — so trust me when I say they don’t care a bit about your “little story.” But if you happen to write yourself something that attracts a readership — that is, a fan base eager for more — Hollywood will at that time be more inclined to take you seriously. Do what Weir and James did: Let them come to you.

      • annaerishkigal on November 11, 2016 at 8:00 pm
      • Reply

      Have you seen all the unproduced scripts uploaded to the ‘screenwriting books’ section of Amazon lately as Kindle Unlimited projects? Sheesh…

      1. I have not! I wasn’t even aware of such a thing! I walked away from screenwriting two years ago in favor of pursuing a career as an author, and I’ve never looked back. I don’t read the trades anymore or keep up with what’s being produced — who wants to be reminded of such a miserable, creatively bankrupt business that trades in nostalgia-for-profit by recycling “the ephemera of a previous century”? I’m having too much fun writing the stories I want to write the way I think they should be written! But I’m not the least bit surprised to hear that someone has designated an online repository for the thousands upon thousands of unsold/unproduced spec screenplays out there. Yeesh…

          • annaerishkigal on November 11, 2016 at 10:04 pm
          • Reply

          I’m not sure it’s ‘designated’ so much as clever people who figured why not? Maybe they’ll spot it while perusing Save The Cat. But I have to agree on the creative bankruptcy. The people in my class with the more original scripts all ended up dropping out before they finished because the focus was on ‘market to producers, market to agents, market to Hollywood’ and it was like, ‘hey, can we just write this thing first?’

          I don’t want to screenwrite for a living (which ScreenwritingU seemed to take offense at). But if I can make my future books easier to produce because they tick off all the magic little boxes, I figure it will increase the chances of seeing the Archangel Michael on the big or little screen someday. 🙂 If nothing else, it’s another tool in the Indie Author toolbox!

          1. The problem with a screenplay as a reading experience is that it isn’t a finished work of art unto itself — it is merely a blueprint for a movie. So, outside of pure scholarly interest, I’m not sure there’s much point to — or much joy to be taken from — reading unproduced screenplays (and I’ve read my share).

            To address your second point: Storytelling is storytelling, and the fundamentals — mythic structure, genre, and characterization — are the same despite the medium, so a screenwriter’s toolbox isn’t that different from a novelist’s, even though a screenplay is just a list of things we see and hear, whereas a novel is an immersive sensory experience. But the rudimentals of narrative craft are the same for either medium, so anything you learn from studying one form can be applied to the other.

            • annaerishkigal on November 12, 2016 at 8:36 pm

            Great article! Just shared 🙂

          2. Thanks so kindly!

  10. It’s interesting to me that you keep pointing to Amazon as the example, when Netflix seems to be the spearhead in that movement. They’ve got a bunch of really great originals, movies and TV shows alike.

    1. I am no movie expert and I did mention other cable networks getting in the game. I know what I see which is Amazon and I also know I am NO expert on movies…ergo JOEL 😀 .

  11. Funny thing is, back in the 1940s and 1950s Hollywood studios used to churn movies out because they knew that if they made 50 in a year and only 40 made money, it didn’t matter because those 40 covered the 10 loss makers. And the ONLY reason we ever got Frankenstein and Dracula in the early 1930s was because Universal was on the brink of going bankrupt, and both properties had been hugely successful on the stage. So they bought the rights to their stage plays and turned them into films and hey presto, Universal came back from the edge. (And now we have a million cruddy versions of both characters)

    Because the studios are smaller, and more production companies are making films, they need to make more of a profit…but films like Inception and Moon prove there IS an audience for original stories, and not just remakes and reboots. Hopefully you’re right and they will start looking to indie authors to provide their stories!

    And I would have no problem at all seeing my Westerns on the big screen 😉

  12. Krisren, I have secretly fantasized about my novels becoming films but told no one because I thought I was being big-headed. Good to see this isn’t as far-fetched as I once assumed. Hooray for Amazon! What they’ve done for us little men is invaluable.

    1. Not far-fetched at all. Especially if you take Joel’s class? Not to sell a class but there are SO many venues we don’t even THINK OF.

    • Alex on November 12, 2016 at 3:48 pm
    • Reply

    Great post, and we do live in exciting times indeed! TV is the interesting medium now, and cinema is the boring one. As somebody who has worked in the movie industry, I can say that nowadays it’s super cheap to produce a professional looking movie, IF you know what you are doing.

  13. I love series. I watch all the ones you mentioned and more.

    On Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:49 AM, Kristen Lamb’s Blog wrote:

    > Author Kristen Lamb posted: ” Last week when I was in Los Angeles I had > the great pleasure of meeting with a long-time friend and supporter of > mine, Hollywood producer Joel Eisenberg and he taught a fantastic class at > the Writers’ Digest Conference about how to get your book made” >

  14. I am interested in Joel’s class but I haven’t quit my day job. Do you offer a digital playback? I’d seriously consider it then

    1. Yes you get a recording free with purchase.

  15. Thank you for sharing this story! I loved it!

    • chellypike on November 16, 2016 at 11:23 am
    • Reply

    I <3 series. OUTLANDER. Just leaving that there because OMG are you watching Outlander?

    • Candace Williams, author on November 16, 2016 at 3:36 pm
    • Reply

    Outstanding articles! Just finished reading the comments so far, and the two series adapted from books I was going to list were already listed – The Pillars of the Earth and Outlander. So I’ll mention a series I love, but it isn’t an adaptation: The Americans, on FX. It’s based on little-known true events during the Cold War, when KGB agents lived and worked in the USA as normal, ordinary Americans, complete with kids, house, car, and jobs. The writing is *superb.*

  16. Another gerat article, your my new favorite blog author. *hugs you* I love West World, I want to see the robots become aware and fight … come on …. please wake up! AHHH!

  17. Kristin, I paid for the class with the understanding I would get a digital recording because I couldn’t attend the class. (I still work full-time.) I haven’t received the link for replay yet. What is the expectation of delivery? Looking forward to the class.

    Kelly Marshall

    1. For which class? It takes a couple days to render the recording. But let me know and I will get that to you.

    2. Check your email Kelly – it went out just after midnight (US Mountain time) on the 6th. I also just sent you another email with both the recording URL & proof the original email made it to your domain’s email server.

      *Edited to add the time zone*

    • Peyton Garver on April 7, 2019 at 8:48 am
    • Reply

    I know I am so late to this party. I’m a veteran teacher and a fledgling author. I self-published my first book in 2014, a WW2 romance, just because it was a lifelong dream to write a book, and I was moved by family memoirs. Then, I used my experiences from teaching to write a YA book. That one won an award in a state RWA contest and was traditionally published in 2016 by a small independent publishing company. From your post I see that I really need to step up my social media game to reach more readers. I agree this is an exciting time with technology creating new waves and ways to break into markets. Unfortunately, I let my costly website expire and haven’t yet launched a new one, but you’re article inspired me to get on it! Thanks so much for the spark!

I LOVE hearing your thoughts!

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