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An email I just sent:
Thank you for your latest phone call and follow-up email. I should be frank, though. Optioning film and TV rights to my works for up-front money is a major part of how I make my living. When we first spoke on the phone, you offered me as full compensation 15% or 20% of whatever the script you might write based on my work might ultimately make you, if it ever makes you anything. That’s just not how I — or other established writers — do business. You might find this blog post of mine of interest:
If a feature is being made, I’m always looking for a six-figure purchase-price floor (regardless of the length of the source material), and it’s never tied into the scriptwriter’s fee (nor would it normally be paid by the scriptwriter; rather, the studio would pay it).
Options fees, on the other hand, are paid by whoever is interested in developing a project: an actor, a scriptwriter, a producer, or a studio. But we never do options, even for short stories, for less than four figures per year, and five figures is common for novels. So, before you invest a lot more of your time into thoughts about developing screenplays based on my work, please make sure you’re in a position to actually acquire the rights under industry-standard terms. :)
I truly wish you the best of luck!