How Amazon categories can get you a movie deal

As regular readers of this blog will know, I’ve got a bit of a thing for time travel stories. It’s my guilty pleasure genre and this year I’ve been lucky enough to publish three of my own time travel titles.

The Very Thought of You has had an option offer from a Hollywood producer, which is pretty amazing for an ebook novella that had only been on sale a month and sold about 25 copies when he got in touch (he was back in touch again this week, promising to get the project moving again once Thanksgiving was over).

I also published the first two parts of my teenage time travel adventure, Touchstone, one set in 1912, the second during the Blitz. This week I’ve been outlining the rest of the series, all to be published next year, and it looks like it will run to six in total.

And all three are selling. Which brings me to the thing that made me smile this morning… I checked my Amazon sales and noticed The Very Thought of You had moved back into the Time Travel Romance Top 100, and what do you know — there it was at number 33.

And there were the two Touchstone books, at numbers 32 and 35; all of them forming an adulatory cluster around one of my favourite time travel books: Audrey Nifenegger’s The Time Traveller’s Wife.

It’s just one of those daily delights I now get to experience as an indie-publisher (now, if only Audrey’s book can drag them all along with her into the Top 10, it would make my Christmas).

But there’s a more serious point here. And it’s one that writers should print out, take to a tattoo parlour and have inked onto the back of their hands so they can see it every time they sit down to write.

People keep asking me how I got a self-published ebook novella on the radar of Hollywood. Well, the true answer is, I didn’t really do anything. It just happened. But my theory is this: Amazon’s category system is actually creating online communities for highly specific genres. Whatever your interest, you can go straight to a Top 100 chart on Amazon for it and never have to look anywhere else; which delivers a headshot to the zombie meme that no one will ever be able to find anyone’s books now so many are being published.

So if you’re into time travel romance, you’ve probably bookmarked the Time Travel Romance chart, maybe even saved it as a button on your iphone, so you can go straight to it and always see what’s new.

And that’s what I think movie producers are doing. If you’re a producer who’s looking for new stories in a specific genre, you can monitor an Amazon category chart and see what new writers are publishing – novels, novellas, short stories – and you can see pretty much straight away what might interest you.

Self-publishing is the new slush pile and you almost don’t need to go chasing Hollywood anymore. If you’re writing something interesting in a certain genre, they’re going to come to you.


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