The face of film is changing. No one’s unclear about that (double negative – suck it, bitches!). Digital distribution is actually a thing now. You’ve got entire series coming out that are Netflix-exclusive or Hulu-exclusive. Redbox has funded feature films. (No good ones that I’m aware of, but it’s only a matter of time). Web distribution is actually making people money. The game is changing every day. After almost 100 years of the studio model and its stagnation we’ve all witnessed in the last couple of decades, now everyone is flailing about wildly trying to figure out what the “next big thing” is, or if there even is a new big thing.
Well, I’ve come up with an idea, and the night before last, I took the first step toward putting into action.
When I was in high school, before I’d ever been on a film set and realized what I wanted to do, I dabbled with the idea of being a writer – a novelist, not a screenwriter. I didn’t have any major new ideas, but I liked writing, and I liked reading, and that career path seemed to be a good way to do both. Of course, those were the days before Amazon and the ability to take a writing career into your own hands via self-publishing. Self-publishing was a joke. It had a stink. It was like telling someone you’re an actor in today’s world. You got the response, “Oh, cool, but what do you do for your day job?”
Well, I still think I’m a decent writer. And now I have a plethora of new story ideas that I’ve come out with that are in various stages of script completion. But, there’s still nothing to back it up. I’m not someone special (yet) and it could be a long time before I am.
I recently started editing friends’ books that they themselves were planning on self-publishing. They’re quite good and I’ve enjoyed it. And to do my due diligence as an editor, and at the recommendation of a friend, I’ve started listening to the Self-Publishing Podcast. Strictly from a listener’s standpoint, it’s quite hilarious. But the data the guys give out is golden. And it’s what gave me my idea.
In a nutshell, the new model I’m putting into action is: take every script I’ve got and turn it into a book, then self-publish those books on Amazon.com. See how they do. Read the reviews. Get feedback from readers. If a bunch of people make the same criticism of a story, for example, maybe tweak that story so it works better.
But most importantly, if one story takes off, then I will begin to focus my attention on that story as my next film project. If a book REALLY takes off, then you’ve got one of the most valuable things in the film industry: a successful pre-existing title that you own ALL of the rights to.
For example, the Vegas script I’m working on. The script is fantastic, the story concept is stellar. Everyone I “pitch” it to says if they were a producer they’d buy the shit out of the script in a second. I think it might be the strongest project I’ve got.
Now, what if I self-publish that as a book and it sells 25,000 copies? Sure, the money will be nice. But the money will be MUCH nicer when I take it to a producer and say, “I’ve got a book that hit the top 100 on Amazon’s bestseller list, and I own all the rights. And I’ve written a script.”
So, as the first part of putting this model into use, I wrote my first novella, Touch. You can find it here. Touch is the very first short I ever shot, and after I’d had it in post for a while, the hard drive died completely, I didn’t have a second backup and the film was lost. But now the story lives on in novel form. I’ve had such fun writing it, and gotten such great response back from my test readers, that I’m probably going to churn out two sequels (based on ideas I had while writing it). That’s three books out, helping my promotion, and if they become popular, the three books would be easy to combine into one and adapt into a feature.
As part of releasing the book and celebrating this new direction I’m taking my career in, I’m making Touch free on the weekend of December 15-16 in the Kindle bookstore.
After that it will be $.99 until I publish the sequels, at which point they will come together as a package for $2.99 and individual episodes will jump up to $1.99.
I hope you check it out, and I hope you enjoy it. Most of all, I hope this turns out to be a good idea. I don’t know of anyone else doing this. I hope that’s not for a good reason. Maybe I’m really the first guy to have thought about it.
Keep checking back in to find out.