I got this question recently:

“I’m trying to sell the movie rights to my novel. I signed with a New York City agency and I thought, because of there positive response, that everything was going just right. At contract renewal time though, they did not renew. They were so enthusiastic and then nothing. What happened?”

Unfortunately this sort of thing is quite common. At the start of a project there is new and enthusiastic energy in a project. After a few months the agent or producer has usually exhausted their list of contacts and if the project hasn’t sold yet it’s not going to sell. It sounds like in your case that is what happened.

The good news is that you were able to get an agency interested in your work to begin with. That’s a real good sign. It means you probably have an interesting project and there is a good chance that you’ll be able to find another agency for your material.

Selling a screenplay (or in your case the film rights to your novel) is an extremely difficult thing to do. Even the highest caliber agents in the world don’t sell every project they take on, far from it.

The people in this industry who are successful are usually juggling 10 projects at once (or more) hoping that one of them takes off. I think this is the best strategy. So start submitting your project to more agents, managers, and producers. And keep writing so you have even more projects to send out at the same time.

2 thoughts on “At first the project seemed to be on track then it went off the rails”
  1. It’s difficult for anyone to keep an intention, or a commitment, in existence over time – whether it’s a passion for their own, or someone else’s, project. As soon as I get an agent – or a producer more interested than the las few – I’m going to ask them how I can assist them. I intend to stay in communication with them ongoingly, without seeming like a nag. What do you think?

    1. You’re right, it is hard to keep up the passion for years on the same project but sometimes this is what it takes to succeed. Agents and managers can lose that passion so it’s your job to try and keep that passion alive.

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