Tips & More


“An illuminating look at a little-known, inspiring piece of history we should never forget.”—Kristin Harmel, New York Times bestselling author of The Forest of Vanishing Stars

This powerful tale of resistance and everyday heroism will resonate with fans of Pam Jenoff and Martha Hall Kelly.”Booklist

Ordering through our affiliates helps support The BookWalker.

Lights, Camera, Negotiation: A Closer Look at Books-to-Film Deals

Option Versus Shopping Agreement

In the last couple of years, the publishing industry has witnessed a remarkable surge in book-to-film deals.  A new film or television agreement is announced almost every week—Publisher’s WeeklyThe Literary Reporter, BookbiePublishers’ Marketplace, and many other literary sites are active in their newsfeeds about these deals. 

There’s never been a better time for authors and writers to consider adapting their existing material for film and television.  What was once considered a rarity or ‘stars aligned’ has now become a prominent trend, capturing the attention of both authors and avid readers alike.

What is intriguing is these deals are not limited to a particular genre or category.  Even more fascinating is that authors, whether backed by big publishers or emerging writers, are being actively encouraged to take part in the adaptation process, allowing their creative input to shape the transition from page to screen, albeit to a certain extent.

So, why the rise of book adaptations?

Books have always been appealing to Hollywood, but until the streaming era began, it was rare for a literary work to be adapted.  Streaming companies have become a driving force behind the surge in book adaptations, ushering in a remarkable era for intellectual property (I.P.) content.  Platforms like Netflix, HULU, Amazon Prime, and Disney+ have revolutionized and transformed the way stories are brought to screens, presenting an unprecedented opportunity for the adaptation of literary works.

Through their innovative approach, streaming companies have shattered the limitations of traditional distribution channels, enabling stories to reach audiences on a global scale.  With millions of subscribers worldwide, these streaming platforms offer a vast and diverse audience hungry for captivating content.  As a result, book adaptations have become a lucrative avenue for streaming companies, tapping into the existing fan bases of popular books and attracting new viewers who may not have previously encountered the original literary works.  This expanded reach has breathed new life into classic stories and introduced lesser-known books to a broader audience. 

Books have a significant advantage in the highly competitive entertainment industry, and their popularity and devoted fan bases provide a solid foundation for successful adaptations.  Streaming companies have recognized this potential, seeking renowned literary works to adapt into compelling visual experiences.  Whether it’s beloved classics, contemporary bestsellers, or hidden gems, the allure of established intellectual properties has become a driving force behind the surge in book adaptations, promising built-in anticipation and a ready-made audience.  Adaptations provide decision-makers with the security of a presumed built-in audience. ( Statistics: 70% of the top 20 grossing films worldwide are book adaptations. Films based on books generate an average of 53% more revenue than original screenplays—Frontier Economics.)

It is a dream of almost all authors to see their book adapted into film.  Every now and then,  authors would ask our publicists if they need a screenplay or a scriptwell, if a contract hasn’t been inked yet, then that’s something to be discussed with the film co-agent further down the line—and authors don’t even have to pay for a screenplay or a script!

Authors would often inquire about movie contracts or any program that could get them a movie deal.  We have no wish to rain on your Hollywood parade, but you don’t need this service (script/screenplay) unless requested by an acquiring agency, and almost all the time, it’s the agency who would pay for it. 
Let’s be brutally honest here; the movie industry is an entertainment and a money-making business.  Why would film people be interested in a book if it didn’t fly off the shelves?  They need to know the book’s viability and if it has a commercial leg.  If there’s no growing fanbase for the book, would they even give a minute to consider thinking they can sell your story because of a script?  These folks have access to award-winning and experienced scriptwriters.  They have tons of ideas and open access to projects in development limbo that languished unexpectedly, waiting to be rediscovered. Click here to read the full article.

Here’s what every writer and author should know; the book-to-film journey does not start from the submission of the script—no matter how great it is—the acquisition starts from the rights.  When a producer starts working on a project for the screen, one of the first things they do is to secure the rights to the story.

Here’s what every writer and author should know; the book-to-film journey does not start from the submission of the script—no matter how great it is—the acquisition starts from the rights.  When a producer starts working on a project for the screen, one of the first things they do is to secure the rights to the story. 

Turning a book into a film is a complex and multifaceted endeavour involving a delicate balance of creative, legal, and business considerations.  The reality of adapting a book into a movie is far from straightforward; it is a labyrinthine process and an intricate affair beset with challenges of its own.  Film and T.V. producers and other stakeholders find themselves immersed in a web of business and artistic intricacies that involves juggling various financial, creative, and business aspects, including the acquisition of those ever-important dramatic rights, to develop and bring a polished product for adaptation.

Side note:  Film people look at sales numbers.  It’s undoubtedly easier to get optioned if a book is a bestseller, but it doesn’t have to be; at least, there must be some sales.   Adapting for film is expensive—your book has to mean something to the producers.

The first step in adapting a book into a film is securing the rights to the source material—and there are two types of agreements authors should understand—The Shopping and Option agreements.  These agreements serve as the foundation for turning captivating stories from the pages of a book into beautiful stories on the big screen.  

Option Agreement: An option agreement is a more specific arrangement between an author and a producer or production company. In this agreement, the producer obtains the exclusive right to purchase the film or television rights to the book within a predetermined time frame.  The purchase price, known as the “option price,” is negotiated between the parties and is usually paid upfront or in installments.

During the option period, which is typically several months to a year, the producer has the exclusive right to develop the book into a film or T.V. project.  This includes hiring screenwriters, directors, and other necessary talent to bring the story to life.  If the producer successfully develops the project and secures financing, they exercise the option by paying the agreed-upon purchase price to the author.  This allows them to move forward with the production and distribution of the adaptation.

Shopping Agreement: A shopping agreement is an arrangement between an author and a producer or production company.  In this agreement, the author grants the producer the exclusive right to “shop around” their book to various studios, networks, or other potential buyers searching for a film or television deal.  It’s like giving the producer a chance to find the best home for the book’s adaptation.

The producer uses their expertise and industry connections to pitch the book to different parties during the shopping period. They aim to generate interest and secure a deal that would allow the book to be adapted into a film or T.V. show.  However, it’s important to note that a shopping agreement doesn’t guarantee that a deal will be made.  It simply gives the producer the opportunity to explore potential options.


How do options and shopping agreements differ, and which one is more commonly observed?

An option grants an exclusive right to present a book to producers, studios, directors, writers, and actors, with the aim of gauging interest in adapting the book into a movie, T.V. show, or limited series.

On the other hand, a shopping agreement also seeks exclusivity but does not involve any payment in return.  It serves as a means to assess the level of interest in a property without any financial commitment.  Shopping agreements usually have a shorter duration than option agreements, often around six months, as no monetary compensation is involved—these agreements are becoming increasingly prevalent, particularly in non-competitive scenarios.  

Note: A shopping agreement has gained popularity among producers due to its minimal or no financial involvement.  Moreover, the producer’s existing attachment to the project provides them with the reassurance that they cannot be excluded from the deal.  At first impression, a shopping agreement may not appear striking for the writer/author, but it does offer several benefits. Firstly, shopping agreements avoid pre-negotiating the purchase price. This means that if there is significant interest in the project, the writer has the opportunity to demand a higher purchase price, which will likely surpass the predetermined option or purchase price.

Secondly, shopping agreements typically have a short duration.  If the producer fails to deliver on the contract, the writer can easily explore other potential deals without being tied down.


Now that you know the differences between Shopping and Option Agreements, you can begin creating a strategy for your book promotion. 


The rise of streaming companies has undeniably ushered in a golden age for book adaptations, transforming the way stories are consumed and bringing them to a global audience.  Through their expansive reach, streaming platforms have given new life to beloved books, introduced audiences to fresh literary discoveries, and created opportunities for authors to actively shape the adaptation process.  As the appetite for I.P. content continues to grow, we can expect this golden age to endure, enriching our screens with captivating stories that are rooted in the pages of cherished books.

So, what can authors and writers do to take advantage of the Hollywood Book Boom?

Today, the odds play in the author’s/writer’s favour.  The chances of getting a book adapted into a film are better compared to 10-15 years ago—mainly because we have streaming companies and the remarkable success of book adaptations, producers and showrunners hold books in high regard.  Competing streaming companies need content, but it is still hard to get a book to screen. So, treat yourself kindly, strive for excellence in your book, and actively promote its existence.  By doing something, you enhance the likelihood of capturing the attention of someone who possesses the potential to transform your book into a captivating film or show. 

  • Build your network, collaborate with other authors.  When you collaborate with known authors, you benefit from their networks and connections, including their literary agency and publisher—basically, you’re sending them a signal, ‘check my book,’ but without going through the usual channels. 
  • Build your reader’s mailing list.  Engage with readers, collaborate with influencers or book reviewers to increase visibility.  Read more here: Why Mailing List Is Your Best Friend.

The BookWalker Wanda M Morris

Wanda M. Morris is the acclaimed author of All Her Little Secrets, which has been praised by Karin Slaughter as “brilliantly nuanced” and reviewed by The Boston Globe, LA Times, New York Times, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Seattle Times, and South Florida Sun Sentinel among others.  It was named one of the “Best Books of 2021” by Hudson Booksellers and selected as the #1 Top Pick for “Library Reads” by librarians across the country.  All Her Little Secrets has been optioned for a one-hour limited series on Showtime executive produced by and starring Emmy-award-winning actress Uzo Aduba.  Click here for details.


If you need help, let us know.  Email our publicist at

The first benefit of hiring a book publicist is their expertise.  A good book publicist deeply understands the publishing industry and the nuances of book promotion.  They know what works and doesn’t and can advise authors on the best strategies for their book and target audience. They can also help authors avoid costly mistakes from inexperienced attempts at book promotion.

Another advantage of working with a book publicist is their ability to build relationships with key players in the publishing industry, such as book reviewers, journalists, and bloggers.  A book publicist can help authors get their books in front of influential people who can help spread the word about their books.  These relationships can be challenging to establish and maintain, but a book publicist has the experience and connections to make them happen.

For our full-management campaign involving a publicist, please email us at

Love it?

Please click to vote

Global Ratings 5 / 5. Vote(s): 61

Please rate

We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!

Let us improve this post!

Tell us how we can improve this post?

Related Articles

Markeitng Tips & More The BookWalker Book Funnel
A Day In The Life

Why Your Book Needs a Funnel: The Secret to Maximizing Your Book’s Potential

A book funnel is a strategy that publishers use to manage, promote, and sell their books. The goal of a book funnel is to attract potential readers and guide them through a series of steps or ‘funnel’ to ultimately lead to a sale or ‘action.’ It’s a series of steps or stages that guide readers from the point of book discovery toward making a purchase.

Read More »
Why a mailing list is an author's bestfriend
A Day In The Life

Why a mailing list is an author’s best friend

You’ll often find that a book is underperforming way below its potential, not because of its content, design, or how it was priced but because the author hasn’t found a way to find and funnel the right readers into the reader’s mailing list.

Read More »
How To Set Up Your Amazon Author Profile Page_The BookWalker
Tips and More

How To Create Your Amazon Author Page

You can think of Amazon Author Page as an extension of your author platform. It increases your book’s visibility, helps readers find your book easily, and will help you sell more books. Authors with an Amazon Author Page enjoyed an increase in their book’s visibility than without, and properly setting up your author page can make a difference in book sales.

Read More »
Building Author Email List
Tips and More

The good, better, best of building an email list

There are many ways to promote a book.  Authors can do endless marketing for their works, but there are also things that you’d be better off by totally ignoring them.  One of the most common questions we get from the floor is what type of marketing works best for authors? You might have heard your

Read More »

Need help With [ A ] Book?

The BookWalker_Blog_History
Scroll to Top

Hi There!

Get access to book recommendations, writing & publishing tips, author events and everything literary. Please select your role  when you sign up for: The BookWalker Monthly Newsletter for a more curated content experience.

Hi Page Turner,

Get access to book recommendations, writing & publishing tips, webinars, author events and everything literary.