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Questions about starting out

So, I don't know if this is the right place to ask these questions, and if not, please forgive me and delete this. For the moment, here goes.

I'm a self published novelist, and I am what most people would consider to be pretty successful. I've hit the USA Today Bestseller list six times, had my audiobooks rights bought by two of the largest audiobook publishers in the country, made six figures yearly from my work, and am routinely within the Amazon's top 100 worldwide authors in my genre (which is police procedural/detective stories).

With that under my belt, I can safely say that my heart has always been in screenwriting. I want to write movies. I want to write for TV. I want to be involved. That being said, I don't know where to start.

I live in the rural Southeast, far away from the glitz, glamour or connections that I've often heard are necessary to break into these fields. I know no one in television or movie writing, and I don't have any credits for those things specifically.

What I do have are the credits I've amassed in my field and I've been told they're pretty impressive.

So, my questions are as follows:

How do I start?
Is my geographical location (which I can't change for family reasons) a disqualifier for me?
If I can start with a spec script or something, should it be in the police procedural/ detective vein (where my accomplishments might be more easily appreciated)?
Is this a pipe dream that I have no way of realistically seeing come to fruition?

Thanks so much. I really appreciate any responses, and I look forward to learning a lot from this board and the people on it.
I have actually. Yes. I've done a lot of reading and took a few classes, but nothing very prestigious or anything. You're definitely right. It's a whole new world in terms of writing. I guess what I'm wondering most is if it's even possible to get your foot in the door if you don't live somewhere where all of this is happening. And thank you for the reply.


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
It is very possible to get your foot in the door with a couple of
excellent screenplays and three TV writing samples.

Yes, you have a disadvantage. However, you have novels that
hit the USA Today bestsellers list. Write a screenplay based on
one of those novels and use that to open the door.
That's good news. Why three TV writing samples, though? Is that a set number most people look at? I'm sorry about being stupid about all of this lol. The book industry and the screenplay world are two completely different animals. I thought the business sides of the world would be similar, but I'm coming to find out that it might not be the case at al.
I agree with directorik, adapt one of your novels. You should definitely write what you are good at so stick with the same genre. Also as mlesemann says, write some shorts to give you a feel for screenwriting. Get some screenwriting software like Celtx, this will format your scripts correctly. You're obviously a good writer so you should have no problem writing, this doesn't mean you'll be instantly successful though.

I am also a self published author and new to this, I actually find screenwriting easier. The difference with doing this is you will be writing for nothing, unless you get any of your screenplays picked up of course.
Oh wow. A kindred spirit. lol. I wonder if our paths have crossed int eh self published world. It's kind of a small community, after all. And, I totally get the whole 'working for nothing' part. But I do want to give it a try and branch out. Trying is the only way to succeed, after all lol
It's a very different type of writing, so that's the best place to start.
The difference with doing this is you will be writing for nothing

Not a screenwriter, but.......

I was a working musician for 25+ years, then became a music recording engineer and finally migrated to audio post. When I made the last transition it took me almost a year to be completely comfortable with "process" and a bit longer until I felt that I was doing truly professional work. Although there were technical/technique aspects to be learned and/or relearned the biggest issue was my mindset.

For you the transition to "show, don't tell" and keeping everything in the present tense will be your biggest transitional issues.


IndieTalk's Resident Guru
That's good news. Why three TV writing samples, though? Is that a set number most people look at?
In general it's better to show different writing abilities when trying to
get a TV job. Show Runners do not want to see a spec script from the
show they run - they want to see something else. So if you have written
one, say a "Jack Ryan", and you get a pitch with the "Jack Ryan" Show
Runner you're out of luck. But if you also have a "Bosch" ready, you're
in a good place.

If you're good a different genres then three TV scripts will show you
as a more well rounded writer. That's a huge advantage when looking for
an agent.