A Suspicious Mind

Last week I received an email via my website from a production company, asking if the film/TV rights to An Unfamiliar Murder were still available. The thought of a professional company turning your hard work into a film should be a dream for any author, right? But… The cynic inside me immediately treated it with suspicion. Was it legitimate? We’ve all had those emails announcing that we’ve won millions of dollars and to contact them to claim…

The internet creates an environment where people can operate from behind an online façade and be anything they want to be which unfortunately means it can be manipulated. Coupled with the fact that hiding behind screens and keyboards negates the need to show body language, it therefore muddies the waters for our intuitive receptors. How do we know when an enquiry is real or merely a hoax?  Whilst most people I’ve met through social media online have been extremely courteous and pleasant, and some of which have become firm friends, I’ve also had my share of bad experiences and, unfortunately, because of a minority of scammers we immediately feel suspicious when we receive something like this.

Now, if I had an agent, I would simply refer this enquiry to them. However, like many writers these days, I don’t and therefore have to deal with such queries myself.  So, firstly I researched the company on the internet. I couldn’t find a website for them as such, but there were lots of references to them across the net and even some film credits. I also found the email sender on LinkedIn. Hmmm… A good start, but I still wasn’t convinced. So I asked the advice of some very dear and trusted author friends in a closed Facebook group where I am a member. The consensus of opinion was that the company could be legitimate, but they did advise me to contact Writers Beware and seek legal opinion before signing anything.

Writers Beware is a fabulous website that supports both new and established authors by raising awareness on fraud or ‘other questionable activities in and around the publishing industry’.  I found no reference on their site, but emailed them anyway and within 48 hours they came back to me. Their advice was sound – they were not aware of any scams associated with this company but, like everyone else, advised me to proceed with caution. So I responded to the company asking for more information.

What struck me about this experience was the number of resources and network of people out there who are willing to help. Yes, I’ve had a few rough moments, but in the two years I’ve had a presence online the overwhelming support and friendship has far outweighed any of the uncomfortable experiences I’ve had. I’m very grateful for the wonderful people I’ve met and their help and support. Even though some of us may never meet personally, they have touched my lives with their kind words and interesting comments and I’ll always be grateful for that.

The enquiry is now out there floating in the ether requesting more information. I admit there is a little excitement in my belly right now, but I’m also I’m learning that in this industry many things are mooted, yet they don’t always come to fruition. However, if nothing more comes of this at least it enabled me to end the year with a huge smile.

I’m closing the blog for a couple of weeks now to spend quality time with friends and family over the festive period. I’d like to thank each and every one of you for your support this past year and wish you a very Happy Christmas and all the best for 2014. Let’s make it great!

6 thoughts on “A Suspicious Mind

  1. Sounds exciting about the film company – if you’ve found evidence of past film work they could well be legit – so many small companies out there… the society of authors would be able to help if you receive a sample contract from them. Basically you sell them the rights for a set period of time (‘optioning’) and they pay you up front. If they don’t use the story within the set period (say, 2 years) then the rights revert to you. Am sure you probably knew this, but it’s just info I got via my agent 🙂 Hope it helps… and you know that any legit company will never under any circumstances ask you for a penny – they should pay you and it should be significant… also, if they do get funding to make a film/TV from it then they would usually approach you first to write the screenplay, but this is not always the case (got that info from a screenwriter :)) Good luck with all this – very exciting!! Hope you all have a wonderful christmas and new year xxx

    • Hi Susi,
      Thanks for all the information. I certainly wasn’t clear on the ‘options’ part, so it’s all very helpful and appreciated. Like many things in this business it could be something and nothing. We’ll see. Nevertheless,really appreciate all your help and support. Have a great Christmas yourself. Hope to catch up in the New Year 🙂

  2. A guy in my writer’s group paid considerable money to a “producer.” The cash was supposedly to help pitch his novel to a major film company. He even flew to Hollywood. Twice. And … he ended up with nothing to show for his outlay, except a chance to pay for another pitch. Just remember the money should flow to the author.

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