I have an amazing story for you today.
I introduced blog readers in January to Chris Finlan, the first interview on The Book Designer.
Chris had written a novel to help support a charity. A close friend of his had a child with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and this was a way he could help. Chris, who works at SAP, the software and consulting group, had never written a novel before, and harbored no literary aspirations.
Nevertheless, his book, Not A Fire Exit, was published in January, and he proceeded to raise quite a bit of money for the Gwendolyn Strong Foundation.
But Chris, who had known nothing about publishing, had caught the “book bug.” He turned the company he had formed to publish his novel—Milverstead Publishing—into a publishing house that would publish books written to benefit other charities. Soon he was publishing other books, but with the stipulation that each would contribute to a charitable cause.
Milverstead’s motto now is “Our books are bound by committment.”
(Full disclosure: I work as a consultant for Milverstead Publishing, and I’m proud to do so.)
Hollywood Comes Calling
Now, Chris has had a film option picked up on his book. Here’s some of the media release that was scheduled to be issued today:
Completed in time for the holidays, Finlan published his novel as a paperback, an e-book and an AFTRA contracted audiobook that was completed out in Los Angeles. This trip turned out to be key, thanks to a simple Facebook status saying he was in town that was brought to the attention of Hyunjin Jo, another high school classmate.
After exchanging a few emails, Jo was persuaded to read the book. “Her response was ‘I’m not going to pursue it at this time, but you know what? Let me think about it for awhile and I’ll get back to you.’” Finlan recalls her saying during a phone call in late December. “It sounded like she was giving me a polite blow off.”
However, Jo did think about it and a few months later contacted Finlan about buying the rights. “What convinced me to sign with Hyunjin was the fact she wasn’t going to let the option just sit. She had a detailed plan and was committed to see it through completion,” Finlan explained.
“Not A Fire Exit,” a thriller mystery that asks the audience, “How far would you go to save your child’s life?” is being produced under Hyunjin Jo’s Beverly Hills based production banner Jojo Road Productions. First stage financing is well underway and is on track to be completed by the end of the month.
I don’t know of another self-publisher who has sold a book to Hollywood and actually gone into production on a movie. Certainly not one with no connection to a traditional publisher.
A Big Year for a Self-Publisher
A lot has happened to Chris in the last year, since he was moved to write and self-publish Not A Fire Exit. He sent me this article about what he’s gone through. I’ve cross-posted it from his blog:
ONE YEAR AGO
One year ago, I was ready to give up on the life I’d built to try and start a new life in Texas. Alone.
Today, I’ve learned that trying something new doesn’t mean you have to give up on those whom love and care for you to do so.
One year ago, I wondered if my life was a failure.
Today, as I look at my beautiful wife and my two children in our lovely home, I wonder why I ever thought that of my life.
One year ago, I couldn’t figure out what my wife saw in me.
Today, I’m glad she still sees it, whatever it is.
One year ago, I admired my brother’s hard work and determination, and wished I could be more like him.
Today, I admire my brother’s ability to make the hard choices that separate failure from success and wish I could be more like him.
One year ago, I’d never had to fire anyone.
Today, I’ve had to fire more than one person and it hurts every time.
One year ago, I was frustrated with my job and didn’t see any possible career path that would make me happy.
Today, I am at the same company, but I’m doing a number of things there in a new position that I enjoy, find challenging and rewarding – all of which that make me quite happy to have that job.
One year ago, I thought I knew the friends that were most important to me and whom cared for me the most.
Today, I’ve drifted away from some friends, but made new friends who have given more of themselves than I thought any friends could.
One year ago, I thought being diagnosed with ADD was something that had ruined my life.
Today, I think having ADD is something that has helped my life.
One year ago, I didn’t know about Spinal Muscular Atrophy.
Today, I don’t know how people cannot know about this terrible disease and do everything possible to cure it.
One year ago, I had never heard about Victoria, Bill or Gwendolyn Strong.
Today, I flew over 3000 miles this month just to meet these extraordinary people face to face.
One year ago, I’d never heard of Helen Baldwin or her son, Jeffrey.
Today, I realize I must have been the only one!
One year ago, Zane Schmid was still alive.
Today, I believe she still is.
One year ago, I felt like I disappointed people more often than not.
Today, I’ve learned that by promising to please everyone, I end up pleasing no one.
One year ago, I never thought I could write a book.
Today, almost 1500 people have read a book I wrote and some even like it.
One year ago, I would have bet you one million dollars that a book I wrote being made into multi-million dollar movie by a filmmaker living in Beverly
Hills would never happen.
Today, I would have lost that bet. :)
One year ago, I wanted desperately to make a difference in the world.
Today, I still do.
That day when I sat down to write a book–my life changed. And so did countless other days that followed. All this change in one year, just because I sat down on the same couch, in the same basement and decided it
wasn’t too late to do something different: accomplishing an impossible goal.
And I was right. It’s never too late.