questionmarkWhat is the best way to find out if a novel has been optioned for a film/screenplay?

–Jon Hanemann
Union City, NJ

I could swear I’ve answered this question before. But in 30 seconds of searching, I couldn’t find my previous answer, so it’s unlikely you could. And it’s so simple, I might as well answer it again.

  1. Open the book to the publishing/information page.
  2. Note the publisher.
  3. Call 212.555.1212. This is New York City information.
  4. Ask for the phone number for that publisher.
  5. Call that number.
  6. Ask for “subrights, please.”
  7. You’ll likely get a voicemail telling you to fax your request. Follow their instructions.
  8. In your faxed letter — or in the event you connect with a live person — explain that you’re trying to track down film and television rights to THIS GREAT NOVEL by This Author.

You may need to follow up a week or two later, but you’ll eventually get contact information for the author, her agent or attorney. You then write to them to ask.

What if it’s not a New York publisher, or not a US publisher, or some other special case? You can almost always find someone who knows something. Eventually, you need to get through to the author or her representatives. They’re the only people who will really know the status.