Why Aren’t More Movie and TV Franchises Turned Into Books?

In Discussion by Edward Nawotka


By Edward Nawotka

In today’s lead story Diana Peterfreund writes about adapting the screenplay of the film Morning Glory into a novel. Over the years several film and television franchises have been extended via book and comic book adaptations. Think of Star Wars, which comprises just six films, but has been continued in several hundred more novels — many of them bestsellers. Ditto for Star Trek. Naturally, these extensions work because they derive from two of the most popular story lines ever produced.

The phenomenon also works for hit television shows, such as CSI, NCIS, and Smallville which have also spawned numerous novelizations.

But the same can be accomplished for cult television series — just look at Firefly and the series of Serenity comic-book titles that appeared following the appearance of the film Serenity, as well as the recent publication Firefly Still Flying, a book that offers several new short stories based on the series.

A good indicator of what might work would be the numbers of postings on fan fiction sites, such as FanFiction.net — where, for example, there are some 22.487 postings for NCIS, 5,675 postings for Firefly. The top listing under “TV,” is for the show Supernatural, with some 43,699 postings (and that too has been turned into several novelizations).

The extensive community of readers who enjoy fiction prove that there’s a serious, book-loving audience that would embrace story lines about their favorite characters, even more so if they were written by top-notch professional writers.

Why don’t more publishers take advantage of this opportunity? Even for titles that are less-popular, the licensing fees are likely to be reasonable, and the talent to produce high quality work, abundant. The upside is that you’re buying a product that has been pre-approved by the market, which is more than one can often say about most book titles.

Let us know what you think in the comments.

About the Author

Edward Nawotka

A widely published critic and essayist, Edward Nawotka serves as a speaker, educator and consultant for institutions and businesses involved in the global publishing and content industries. He was also editor-in-chief of Publishing Perspectives since the launch of the publication in 2009 until January 2016.