Books and film are two sides to the same coin. Each is a medium for story telling and/or passing along information to a collective audience. However, that is not to say they do not have fundamental differences and it is these differences that removes them from direct competition with each other. In fact, making a film adaptation from a novel can have enormous benefits to the creators of both mediums.
Having a novel made into a film is, at least from an author’s perspective, usually a financial boon and could also be considered a marketing and promotional campaign that you do not have to pay for. It is one that instead pays you for allowing the use of your intellectual property. As long as you can stomach some Hollywood screenwriter potentially changing your written work to appeal to the broader demographic demanded by a studio, it is hard to see a downside to this situation…
…at least from a public relations standpoint.
You get financially compensated and your book receives a more widespread reputation, what better way to reach the greater public could you ask for?
Books and film in recent years
There is a very large difference between the production of a film and the publication of a book. Unlike publishing which is a relatively straightforward process from the contract to the release date, film production is a less predictable path filled with uncertainty and dead ends.
That has not stopped a massive influx of films and even television shows being adapted from printed works from flooding the movie industry in recent years. While a popular and well-liked novel does not necessarily lead to a popular and well-liked film, a novel with a strong fan base combined with a good marketing campaign for the film will usually lead to financial success for both in the future.
Hollywood is becoming increasingly effective at promoting their films. An author only stands to benefit from having the title of their novel placed in film trailers circulated over YouTube on Television. A novel can become a household title if it becomes a film that is well-promoted.
Now here is the part that lends itself most to the PR side of things. A novel that is made into a film not only gains more attention it also gains more credibility. After all, if a major Hollywood studio had enough faith to risk spending the money to adapt your work and put it on-screen there must be SOMETHING unique and praise-worthy about your publication. Again, the downsides of this are minimal. If a novel gains attention when its movie adaptation is released, even if the movie is critically panned or becomes a box office flop, the novel (if it is actually a decent piece of work) will usually weather that storm.
Take for example the fantasy series Inheritance Cycle, which is comprised of four novels, Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, and Inheritance. It is a popular fantasy aimed at pre-teens, commercially successful (though not on the level of say, Harry Potter), selling about 35 million copies worldwide. This is despite a 2006 film release of an adaptation of the first novel, also titled Eragon, which received mediocre reviews at best and was not commercially successful enough to entice 20th Century Fox to continue making the films. Despite this the book sales seemed to be largely unaffected. It is possible even, that the presence of the film enticed people to become prospective readers and once they had became invested in the written series. So despite the film adaptation not panning out to be as successful as Harry Potter it was still a successful move on Christopher Paolini’s (the author) part to allow his novel to be adapted for the big screen.
A Symbiotic Relationship
You would be hard pressed to list every single film adapted from a novel since the year 2000. From major epics like The Lord of the Rings, to teen-targeting series like Twilight or The Hunger Games, to stand-alone landmark success stories such as Harry Potter one thing rings true about almost every novel that becomes a film – when a movie is made book sales increase.
So there is no denying that books and films help each other out. Books provide films with a vast array of stories and subject matter whereas films can help promote and sell the novels they are based off of, furthering the careers of the respective authors and allowing them to produce more work. From a public relations standpoint, there are no true negatives to working towards a film adaptation for your book.If a film is produced using the subject matter of your novel it is a certain that book sales will go up.
One notable strategy used to take advantage of this opportunity is the release of new covers or dust jackets that show off the film. This not only helps market the movie release but make it easier for potential readers to associate the novel with a newly released film.
Books and films are two very different mediums that still manage to uniquely coexist. Book sales and film profits are in no way a competing market. If you combine them, it can result in a marketing benefit that gives advantage to both the author and the film producer. Many books would not sell as well if were not for movies and many a movie would not exist to be watched were it not for books.
The next time you pick up a book to read before its film adaptation is released, or see a film that credits its source material to someone’s novel, take a few minutes to think about how that affects your own opinion towards them. Are you more inclined to watch the film now that you have read the novel? Does seeing a film make you interested enough to seek out the book that came before?
Questions worth considering and I recommend that you do.