I find it almost laughable when writers think that writing a best selling novel, or at least one that gets the attention of a major entertainment producer or manager, is easier than selling a screenplay or breaking into TV. Alan Ball accidentally stumbled upon the Sookie Stackhouse series at an airport. Hunter S. Thompson was sold in the cardboard boxes $2 bins before being hunted out and later embraced by Johnny Depp. I used to think that all writers were in on the joke when newbies mentioned this as a career move as this shows:
Sadly, I was mistaken. I have actually heard advice to aspiring screenwriters to go write a novel. I would only suggest it if you are burnt out on scripts and if you there is an idea burning in you AND if you need to just write and long form narrative writing is your forte.
Otherwise, as a career strategy, don’t waste your time. If you don’t trust me, here’s the master herself, Cecily von Ziegesar, who’s empire of “Gossip Girl” was built on self-deprecation and humility, two qualities none of her characters deliciously have. (I’ve underlined by favorite quote.)
How did you land the TV deal, and what can authors do before they put a word on the page to ensure a better chance of landing a TV or film deal?
It’s funny because I think if you want to write something for TV or film, you should just go write a screenplay. I really think it’s to a book’s detriment to think of it as, “Oh, this is going to be a great movie.” It’s hard! I think the best thing to do is write a book thinking no one’s going to read it. It’s certainly not going to be made into a movie, and I’m just doing this because I have to write this book, because I really want to write this book. I’m not writing this because it’s going to be a huge hit. The most successful books were not meant to be; they came out of nowhere. I don’t really have that advice for someone, because it’s something that I think happens just because something is good. And, obviously, having the right connections. That always helps.