It’s been another interesting week in the book-to-movie experience. Actually, it’s been two, but I didn’t want to talk about it last week. This week I’m okay with it. That’s probably because I know more this week than I knew last week and knowledge is king. Or something like that. If you’ve been following this blog you know that turning a book into a movie takes time. Lots of it. And along with time spent is a building anticipation of the day you are finally going to be able to see it on the silver screen. First, however, come the reviews, and today’s post is about that process. Book publishers release ARCs—advance reader copies—prior to a book’s publication. These are sent out to book reviewers and industry people so that summaries and recommendations can be made about a book prior to its on-sale date. The same basic thing happens with early screenings in the film industry. Production companies arrange screenings, reviewers go, and you keep your fingers crossed that the reviewers like the film and will say glowing things about it. In the book world, reviewers simply summarize and opine, and if you’re lucky, they grace your book with a star. We authors don’t get “three out of four stars” or any such ranking. We get no stars unless our book really stands out in the reviewer’s mind, and then we get one. One little star. But that star is cause for great celebration partly because stars are awarded in a notoriously miserly fashion. Now, if several reviewers all deign to stamp your work with a star, it actually matters because marketing budgets get increased, publicists have more to work with, and the publishing house holds its breath a little in anticipation of big awards being granted. If the reviews are not good, your book’s momentum for success comes to a sad, painful halt, and your book will probably be out of print in short order. If the reviews are mixed—meaning some reviewers like it and others don’t, then it comes down to finding the portion of the population that agrees with the reviewers who like it and selling to them. And the person in charge of doing that will most likely be the author. Over my career, I have gotten mostly positive reviews, and enough stars to keep me happy. But I’ve also been subjected to reviewers who “just don’t get it.” When you have one reviewer giving you a star and another slamming you, you start to see that it’s just subjective—an opinion. But when you realize how much that person’s negative opinion can shape your book’s success, you want to say, hey, wait a minute—what qualifies you to say that? What I’ve learned these past two weeks is that the movie business is very much like the book business. The reviewers give out stars. Or tickets. Or tomatoes. Or thumbs up or down. Or whatever. And marketing strategies are tied to reviews and early box office success. So even if you have good reviews, or good mixed reviews, if you have a “small film” (meaning small production budget) going up against 3-D or huge special effects movies, your initial box office (cash brought it first weekend) might not be enough to warrant further distribution. In other words the big multiplexes—where the majority of people go to see films—don’t want to take it in. With Flipped the movie, a lot of reviewers loved it and there were some wonderful articles in the LA Times and USA Today about it. There were other reviewers who made their cynical opinions quite clear, and the combination resulted in a situation similar to mixed reviews in the book industry. The question then became how do we get the film to that portion of the population that will agree with the reviewers who understand the film? The answer is ongoing, and I’m afraid it’s better left for next week when I have more data. Meanwhile, go see Flipped while you can. It’s a beautiful, heartfelt film, and I'm sure that, unless you're a cynic, you'll agree!