I wonder how long before we stop reading these types of stories, either because it has become so established a route to publishing success that it’s not worthy of comment or because no author would be crazy enough to do the deal?

I suspect publishers will just have to keep paring back their at operations’ edges (the fat if you will, though I’m sure in some cases they’ll be cutting muscle) in order to offer enough cash and royalties to sink these deals:

‘It’s life-changing,’ said Graves, who chronicled her path from rejection to viral e-book sensation last month in the Des Moines Register. ‘I’m happy for my good fortune and humbled by it. I’m not sure what happened.’

What happened is this: The 45-year-old Clive mother of two rose before the sun and work at Wells Fargo every day and tapped out a steamy novel about a 30-year-old English teacher shipwrecked on an island with a 16-year-old student. She was rejected by 40 book agents and 14 traditional publishers so she spent $1,500 for editing and formatting and posted the e-book on Amazon.com. It sold only 100 copies in the first month, then took off by word of mouth and thousands of positive online reviews from readers.

A paperback was offered and by last week the title rose to No. 7 for e-books and print sales combined on the New York Times best-seller list.

via After viral e-book, Iowa author inks seven-figure deal | The Des Moines Register | DesMoinesRegister.com.

(Via Eoin Purcell’s Blog.)


  1. THE FAKE NEWS: see CAPS: ”Then the big boys came calling. She
    had offers to buy book rights from Amazon, Harper Collins and Plume
    imprint Penguin Group. She went with Penguin because of the
    publisher’s links to Temple Hill Entertainment, a production company
    that made the “Twilight” films. Temple Hill also works closely with
    MGM, which bought the movie options to “On the Island.” DUH……THE OPTION IS
    RUN OUT AFTER A YEAR And her books will not sell it is the same HYPE

    I might be wrong on this, but I felt the MSM was hyping a.
    movie option that NEVER REALLY EXISTED…..see my post here and LINK.

    i am not criticizing the author, she deserves all she gets…i am.
    criticising the media and blogs for NOT FACT CHECKING Her claim.
    that her ebook on Kindl;was optioned for a , movie in 2009///it was and.
    IT WAS NOT…i found the truth by digging and she told me too SIGH.

    too much hype these days and the media never fact cehckliongs ONLY.

  2. I think the problem IS with the reporting here:

    “The movie option deal, whether it was legitimate or not, helped catapult her to literary stardom.”

    Obviously it WAS a legitimate option. I do also agree, the problem is also the public misconception that an option = the movie getting made.

    “But there is a cautionary tale here, too. The online media and the MSM took the Cinderella story about a ”film option” at face value and never fact-checked the facts. Sloppy journalism at the Wall Street Journal? It wouldn’t be the first time.”

    I am failing to see what exactly was sloppy about the reporting. Seems like the facts here are all easily searchable with the names of the parties involved. Who did in fact work for Vanguard Films as they said they did. What is exactly the cautionary tale here? It’s pretty clear that McQuestion did have a legitimate film option. The glass slipper fit for McQuestion and good for her. Is the article writer perhaps jealous of her success?

  3. >the problem is also the public misconception that an option = the movie getting made

    Absolutely. The movie rights of many books are optioned; only a few end up being sold. I seem to remember being told by a film/TV bod at HarperCollins that the proportion was well under 5%.

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