Years ago, I put a ton of work into a Nicholl contest entry. The “Academy Nicholl Fellowships” is perhaps the most prestigious screenwriting competition around — not to mention among the more competitive; 2018s contest brought in nearly 7,000 entries!
Each year, they award up to five prizes of $35k each. Not bad — and of course that comes with the lifetime credential of “Nicholl winner,” which translates into gigantic opportunities in Hollywood.
But, of course, you have to really beat the odds to win one. As the numbers show, above, each winning screenplay has to be better than about 1,400 others. That’s pretty tough odds!
Of course, I didn’t win, like most people. But, like most others, that doesn’t mean my screenplay was bad. I expect there must regularly be perhaps thousands of really great stories submitted.
And that seems typical of one’s odds in other media, as well. (I’ve written before about the trials and tribulation of seeking a literary agent.)
In recent times, I’ve been returning to my original love of self-publishing. I’m preparing for launching a novel (called Chroo) into the world. As part of that, I decided to revive and republish (re-self-publish) most of my back catalog. The idea is to have 2 or 3 books available on Amazon prior to publishing my novel there, as by then I’ll have established an author page and a back-catalog of titles available for anyone who’d like to read beyond the novel.
One of those titles happens to be the aforementioned screenplay. It’s called Wood’s Confection and is something I’d be quite happy, as an author, to have people read. It’s a pretty decent tale, in my humble opinion, and can do better than just existing on a hard drive in complete obscurity.
In looking around at some issues related to publishing screenplays as books, I came across many, many forum discussions about this. It seems the prevailing opinion is: Don’t publish screenplays as books because (1) no one will buy them, (2) no one wants to buy/read them, (3) it’s simply not done, (4) etc.
Well, none of that sits well with me. So, I’m doing it anyway. After all, there are actually no rules about these things.
And I could counter all of the above with: (1) well, then I just won’t make any money if no one buys it, (2) “no one” is a pretty broad term, and strikes me as untrue, (3) who cares?, and (4) see the “Dude’s” response here, in general.
I also recall, as a former English major, that we widely read, studied, and enjoyed stage plays (which arguably fall into a similar category as screenplays when you’re discussing publishing). We read Shakespeare, Miller, Williams, Beckett, Simon, Shaw, Chekhov, etc. All of those, similarly, were “meant to be watched / not read” as well (another common objection).
So, yeah, that’s what I’ve been up to lately — reformatting that thing and making it available as a book (and eBook, too!). If nothing comes of it, I’ve lost nothing but a bit of time. On the upsides:
- Perhaps some adventuresome readers may purchase and enjoy it.
- It’s not just sitting in a drawer or on a hard drive, never to be seen.
- Perhaps it could receive some exposure it wouldn’t have otherwise had (who knows … perhaps even some producer could read and option it). Stranger things have happened.
- It can now serve as an additional writing credential, where anyone interested in me as a writer (agents, publishers, producers, etc.) can have a look and, well, who knows what could come of it.
The point is: If you have a significant piece of writing (in any format beyond traditional prose) that you think is good, and it’s not doing anything but existing in a drawer or hard drive, I just don’t believe you have anything to lose (aside from a little time) by putting it out there into the world — especially if you’re doing it yourself like I’m doing.
🎦 ✍🏻 Jim Dee maintains his personal blog, “Hawthorne Crow,” and a web design blog, “Web Designer | Web Developer Magazine.” He also contributes to various Medium.com publications. Find him at JPDbooks.com, his Amazon Author page, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Medium, or via email at Jim [at] ArrayWebDevelopment.com. His latest novel, CHROO, is available on Amazon.com. If you enjoy humorous literary tales, please grab a copy!