I’ve heard it being said that one of the ways to get producers interested in your screenplay’s story is to do it the long way and write the book first. Do you agree, and is it harder to get a book published than a screenplay bought?
Wow. Writing a screenplay, and then writing a book based on the screenplay, seems like a tremendous amount of misdirected work. Yes, some producers do like to read novels, but the vast majority would prefer a script to a novel any day of the week. After all, a script is a lot closer to being a movie than a book is. Plus it’s shorter, and you can throw it across the room without damaging your walls.
My advice is to pick the format you’d prefer to write, hopefully the one that best matches your story. If you choose to write a book, make it the best book possible — don’t go overboard trying to load it up with "this would be a great movie!" moments. If you choose to write a script, trust that the quality of your writing is all you’ll need to sell it.
I recently adapted a book called BIG FISH by author Daniel Wallace. Meeting with him for the first time, I was surprised to see he had never thought of his book being a movie. The moments I thought were cinematic, he thought were just good storytelling.
As for your second question, I’m not sure whether being published is easier or harder than selling a script. My gut instinct is that it’s easier to be published, simply because there are so many different publishing houses, and frankly, so many books. But there’s a big difference between being published and making money.