How Much Do Book Authors Receive for Film Rights

How Much Do Book Authors Receive for Film Rights?

As an author, you might be pleasantly surprised if a production company were to approach you with the idea of producing your book into a movie. The authors of copyrighted books often give permission to filmmakers to produce adaptations of their book on film, but at what cost? How much do book authors receive for film rights on average?

This is a question that is almost certain to come to mind if you’ve been approached by a producer that is interested in adapting your book to film. So what do you charge? What is your literary work worth to you?

Selling a Book for Film Rights

Before you move forward with the sale of a book and provide film rights to a producer, you’re going to have to understand your rights and what you’re giving up.

The producer might ask for an “option” which represents an agreement between you, the author, and the producer. This reserves the right for them to make your book into a film or television show during a specified length of time.

A standard option is generally 18 months with the right to renew. 

Option Agreements

Under an option agreement, you get paid for the right to produce your book into a film. Regardless of whether the production company is able to secure funding and actually move forward with the production. Basically, you benefit regardless.

An option will generally start at about $500 for the author and it could go up to $5000 which is actually a really good deal.

However, in answering the question, “how much do book authors receive for film rights?” the reality is, there’s no real way for us to average it out.

Because it all really depends on how badly the production company wants the rights to produce the adaptation and how interested the author is in making a deal.

Purchase Price for Book to Film Rights

Generally speaking, the price that a production company will be willing to pay you for your book to film adaptation rights is about 2-3 percent of the production budget.

So, say the production company has a budget of $10M to produce your book adaptation. That’s considering you have an incredibly popular book like a NY Times Bestseller. Then you’ll be offered 2-3% or $200,000 on the first day of principle photography.

However, most of the time the agreement will also consider a cap. Perhaps the budget is $10M but the cap for rights to the book is set to $225,000.

That means, even if the film budget increases, to say $100M? You’re still only going to get $225,000 for the rights, which is still a rather substantial amount of money.

Amount Difference

Keep in mind though. The amount provided to authors for film rights to adapt a book that is going to be broadcast on television will be a lot lower than that which would be turned into a feature movie.

Rights for basic cable will likely be in the range of between $25,000 and $50,000. Depending on whether we’re talking about a single episode or cable movie, or a series.

The Takeaway

So, how much do book authors receive for film rights? It really depends on the book and the negotiations that are made, as well as on the production budget.

Different rights will come with different expenses and a higher budget could lead to a higher reward for the author. 

BBP Legal Disclaimer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *