Want to get published? Want to get produced? The best guide I know on the subject is Peter Miller’s book Author! Screenwriter! A short while ago he sent me an updated electronic version of his original book Get Published! Get Produced!, which I purchased at his presentation inToronto in 2005. My second read was as rewarding as the first one. Being a literary representative in publishing and movie business since 1973, Miller knows the industry inside out; his success with the placement of written word is another proof of his qualification to write such a book; however, it still needs talent to write so convincingly as Miller did.
“As a writer’s representative, it is my responsibility to always keep the harsh reality of the publishing industry in sight and to make sure the writer gets published,” he says. Harsh reality is the key, and there are numerous aspects of it, unknown to majority of writers, or disregarded, which Miller brings to light.
There is no other profession, understanding of which is so wrong and distorted, as writing. You seldom, if ever, would find an engineer, who devotes all his or her spare time sitting alone at home and designing a new machine, or a device, hoping that some day some corporation would accept it for production and pay millions to the creator; a rarity is an actor, who performs at home alone, with no audience, years in and years out; in general, there is no other profession, that attracts uncountable millions of people with no specific talent for it. Consider this statistics: inNorth America, there are about 14 millions of writers-wannabe; in the last year alone, approximately 2.7 mln. titles (source: Publisher’s Weekly) have been published, most of them are self-published; a tremendous industry thrives on aspiring authors, producing printed and electronic version of their books in ever increasing quantities. Even for a very talented author it is a monumental task to stand out above the tide of submissions; even more so for publishers and literary agents to process these submissions. For all those who wish to break through all these obstacles and become a part of entertainment industry, Peter Miller’s book is definitely a must.
In Introduction, Miller gives an overview of the Five Steps to Success as a Writer. An experienced writer may know some, or all of them, but even then it would be an interesting read.
After introduction, Miller takes the bull by the horns; he writes about new and old media, their changing roles at the market, and, as a consequence, new media marketing. This is the issue of superior importance, and usually a stumbling block to success. The value of this part of the book stretches far beyond a usual shallow observation. It explains in details, what the author shall do and how, if he/she is willing to accept and understand the reality. Miller supports his views with vivid examples from his dealings with authors, publishers and film producers.
In chapter 2, Know the Realities of the Book Business, Miller gives wealth of information about working of the industry; who makes the decision about the manuscript, from the agent to the publisher to the film producer; how the decision is made, and what an author has to face and do during this process.
The reader will find many interesting examples in the book, emphasising Miller’s point of view. Some of them may cause you eyebrows to rise, such as Rule # 2: Yes, it has to appeal to idiots. But hold your breath and read on: “I never said that your book couldn’t appeal to thoughtful, hyper-intelligent people as well. I’m simply noting that literary success from King of Lear to The Da Vinci Code, whatever their measure of brilliance, have undeniable mass appeal – universal ideas that speak to everyone, even idiots.”
There are practical advices to authors, such as how to write a book proposal, details of professional norms and protocols, and others, missing which may make a difference between success and failure.
If you are the lucky one who broke through the initial barrier and your manuscript was accepted by an agent/publisher, you will find wealth of information in the Author! Screenwriter! about what to do and what not during the editorial and publishing stages, and beyond.
There are chapters in which Peter Miller examines fiction and non-fiction market, each having its peculiarities and requiring different approach to book writing and publishing.
Part Two of the book is mostly about the film industry. In it the reader will find out all about what to do and what not in the journey from a book to film. Movies are a different world; for sure this part of the book is of great interest to fiction writers.
There is a lot more in the Author! Screenwriter!. Entertaining as good fiction, it shares with readers the knowledge and expertise of one of the most successful contemporary experts in the industry.