As you know, I’m a huge advocate of learning as much about the publishing industry as possible. I believe that writers (or most of them, the ones who don’t possess innate incendiary talent that demands attention, and how many of those are there, really?) need to follow the publishing industry news, they need to know the trends, they need to find out about the big deals.
But sometimes, I have to admit, following the headlines can trip you up.
All too often, the headlines contain extraordinary circumstances of luck and fate (along with maybe some nepotism and payola thrown in for good measure) and possibly alcohol-induced questionable decisions. So you end up with situations where someone sells an unfinished novel because they left it on the subway and an editor picked it up.
You often find these types of stories in regards to television shows and movies. But those situations are the exception. Not the rule. For 99% of the writers out there who want a television show, there is no shortcut.
“For unproven writers, it’s a lot of times better to write the script on spec because then the buyer has a better idea of what they’re getting,” says a friend of mine who is a television agent at one of the big three Hollywood agencies. “Essentially it removes some of the risk for the buyer since there’s something more concrete. It also protects a young writer from having their idea ripped off because even for non-members a script can be registered with the WGA.”
So if you’re out to create the next Desperate Housewives or Gray’s Anatomy, you gotta finish that script. Don’t count on taking a shortcut.