How Will the Writers’ Strike Affect Publishing

At a book party last night, I was talking to an agent about this very subject and she brought up an interesting point: that unlike literary agencies, who at least generate considerable revenue stream from the backlist, Hollywood talent agencies depend heavily on frontlist and new proposals – and a strike, especially a long one, will bring about a significant drought in salable materials.

The LA Times’ Josh Getlin gets into this a bit but concentrates more on how the strike affects publishing proper:

Some observers already see signs that the books-to-film pipeline has

been affected: “I don’t think there are going to be any major

negotiations concluded, maybe not even any offers tendered, while the

strike is on,” said Richard Curtis, a New York literary agent.


one exception, he and others suggested, is that studios will still be

in the hunt for the rights to literary blockbusters, should they come

on the market during the strike. Given the potential payoff, Curtis

said, “someone will always find a smart way to get around it [the

strike]. It will be a handshake between a studio and an agent, an

understanding that basically says, ‘We’ll have a deal [on optioning

film rights] subject to the conclusion of the strike.’ “

If all

else fails, many Hollywood writers may be looking to New York for

steady work. Indeed, the publishing world is gearing up for an influx

of proposals for new book deals from screenwriters.

“Writers are

writers, after all, and there’s nothing stopping them from dusting off

that novel they’ve meant to get back to when they had time,” said Simon

Lipskar, an agent with Writers House in New York. “Obviously, they now

have the time.”

This is where I wish I had an active Lexis account or that Publishers Marketplace existed back in 1988. Was there a similar flux of novel submissions from screenwriters back then? What books might not have been published had a strike not happened for so long? More to the point, how else could this strike affect the book industry?