Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Passing Parade

Got an email today, a slight variation on scores of such I've gotten since I started getting email. Boiled down, the question is, "How can I get your job?" And the short answer is, "You can't."

The names are changed to protect the innocent, but I'm posting it here -- again -- to offer blanket advice to folks who might see this posting and save me having to point it out to them individually. (Though I confess that since I've put up versions of this before, and spoken to it in my how-to-book about adventures in the writing trade, No Man But a Blockhead, available as an ebook right here over a PayPal button just there, to the right, $5; or on as a kindle book, for the same amount, I don't hold out much hope that this will do the trick ...)

Oct 7, 2009, at 3:47 AM, (Name Withheld) wrote:

Mr. Perry,

First off, I just want to say that I'm a big admirer of your work. I'm a huge fan of the Alien franchise and I read Earth Hive when I was in middle school and was absolutely blown away by it! Your ability to bring paper to life in a way that is usually only seen in multi-million dollar special effects scenes on the big screen is absolutely phenomenal.
I also admire the way you are able to input your own characters so seamlessly into an already well established franchise. (I think I still have a crush on Billie!)
Anyway, I am attempting to write in an equally action-packed and character-driven franchise (shared universe name here) and would like any and all advice you could give me about getting my work to the right people so that it might be able to see the light of day. I believe that, despite not having formal education in the field, I have some very good material and a lot of ideas that could help this franchise achieve something on paper that has never been done before and would like some help in making this happen.

Thank you very much for your time,

(Name Withheld)

(Name --)

I appreciate your compliments, thanks.

As for trying to write in the (Shared Universe you mention) your options are limited. Rights to do books based on the characters are owned by the movie folks, probably (Joe Hollywood) and (The Company He Owns,) and leased to book houses.

The only way you can get to write one of these is get hired by the company who has leased the rights. The most recent novels came from (Tie-In Books) and you'd need to contact them and see what their policy about hiring writers is.

You need to understand that your chances are very small you'll get the job. First, if they've gotten the rights to do a few of these, it's most likely they've already assigned them. If there's a book just coming out, they bought it six months or a year ago, and if there's one due in six months or a year, they've already bought that one.

If they have rights to books not yet assigned and are looking for new writers, that is your only shot, but there is almost certainly going to be a long line of writers ahead of you who'd like to take that shot.

I see that (Big Name SciFi Author) wrote one of these. (Big) is a New York Times Bestselling author who has won major awards in the science fiction field. Given the choice of hiring him, or somebody they don't know who has no track record, who would you hire?

Direct novelizations of the movies get done when the script is theoretically finished, months, or maybe a year before the movie hits the screens. Without a track record, you simply won't get the chance to do a tie-in to the movie. Those go to people they know can do the work cleanly and quickly.

Ideas are cheap, and in this part of the business, execution is way more important than a terrific idea.

I don't know anybody working at (Tie-In Books), but you can probably get contact info at their website:

My best advice to you is to write your own original material, get it out, and once it is sold and published, then you have something to bring to the table if you want to try working in an established universe.

Good luck with it.


Justin said...

It's a tough lesson to learn, but one that should be taught to every child in every school: Having a great idea doesn't get you anything. Until you find a way to transform it into rent or food, it's not doing you any favors. Either cultivate it, or put it on the shelf until you have the time/means to give it the attention needed.

It's amazing the amount of people of all ages who tell me: "I have this awesome idea for a video game. What can you do to help me?" I inform them of the long road it takes to be at the level where you can just go, "Let's make a game about this" and people will take you seriously. A mere handful on this planet are there.

Part of it is paying dues. In our society, people often ignore the staircase while searching for a jetpack. I wouldn't fault anyone for using one if they find it, but they're not exactly plentiful and do nothing for your calves.

J.D. Ray said...

I think you should grab that domain name while you can. It would probably get a lot of traffic. Great place to put ads. :-D