You--yes, you--can make a difference. No, this is not about the Iowa caucuses or anything involved with this bizarre election cycle. I'm referring here to the near future... of television. And your chance to shape it. A tiny bit.
Most authors, let's be honest, dream of having their work adapted for the stage, film or television. It's not that we aren't happy writing books, because the vast majority of us are. But adaptation, with all its dangers (the author's sensitive work gets turned into a fratboy comedy with a talking walrus), brings with it vastly increased visibility and that means more people end up reading the books, and that's good because well, remember how I just said we're happy writing books? We'd like to keep the gig.
The money doesn't hurt, either.
While there has occasionally been interest in some of my work from production companies over the years, nothing yet has gotten especially serious in that area. But lately there has been an increase in the number of series and movies on TV that one might define as "cozies." Many of these are now being seen on the Hallmark Channel, where one might rightfully expect some coziness with the brain teasers and central female characters.
I confess I have not yet seen any of the Hallmark mystery movies or shows, but I hear good things about them. Care appears to be taken and viewers will get an enjoyable ride, I'm told. But there seems to be something missing from the current lineup and I think something could be done to provide it.
That's right. We need to get the Hallmark Channel to adapt the Haunted Guesthouse mystery series for television.
Seems logical, right? A whole cable channel devoted to fun, light, possibly heartwarming stories that has shown an interest in the cozy mystery genre especially of late. Match that with a series of fun, light cozy and occasionally heartwarming mystery novels with a central character who is female, smart, funny and intrepid (I'm just relaying comments from others). What's not to like?
My belief is that the fly in the ointment here is simply a problem of profile, as in the low one the Guesthouse series currently has. Hallmark just doesn't know there is a Haunted Guesthouse series or that a devoted readership exists that could turn into an even more devoted viewership if only the opportunity arose. There are innumerable cozy mystery book series and Hallmark can't be expected to be aware of all of them. So this is the area that needs to be, let's say, attended to.
That's where you come in, dear reader.
For the record, I am not asking you to send an email to Elizabeth Yost, the vice president of development at Crown Media, which owns the Hallmark Channel. I would never suggest that you send her an email (at firstname.lastname@example.org) suggesting that as a fervent reader of cozy mysteries, you believe the Haunted Guesthouse series--in which the ghosts are not at all frightening but are instead funny and friendly while Alison Kerby is an admirable and accessible heroine--might be a perfect fit for the current TV lineup Hallmark is offering. But if, entirely on your own, you were to decide to contact Ms. Yost without any encouragement from me whatsoever, you would do well to follow the suggestions below on how to write such an email:
- Be very respectful. Don't ever suggest Hallmark has been doing anything but a bang-up job producing cozy mysteries.
- Encourage more such development. Don't suggest other book series per se, but say you've seen things like the Flower Shop Mysteries and would like to see more.
- Don't (under any circumstances) say that the author suggested you write to her.
- Don't lie.
- Explain that Guesthouse is a fun series, not a horror series. Maxie and Paul, the main ghosts, are not at all frightening. But they help solve the mystery.
- You might want to mention that Alison is a likable character who would be appealing to viewers in Hallmark's viewership and that she does develop a romance in the course of the series.
- Say you've read a number of books in the Guesthouse series and see how they could develop successfully into a TV series or series of TV movies.
- Be clear that if such a show were produced, you would be anxious to watch it. In fact, you wouldn't miss it.
- Make sure you say how much you like the Hallmark Channel (if you don't already, you might want to check out one or more of their mystery shows).
- Don't demand. Request. Suggest. Make it sound like you're trying to alert Ms. Yost to something she might not have heard about yet that could perform well for her and Hallmark.
- Keep it short, to the point, and helpful.
- Thank Ms. Yost for what she's already done and for taking the time to consider your suggestion.
Okay? So those are just suggestions of things you might want to keep in mind if, all by yourself, you were to decide to send an email to email@example.com.
Remember: This is how the original Star Trek got renewed. Tell your relatives. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell your book club. Your library. Your Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Pinterest... uh... pin pals. Tell people in the street. Encourage them--completely on their own--to write emails to Ms. Yost as well. Television responds to numbers. Let's get them--assuming I were encouraging this, which of course I'm not--a good number of emails so they might feel it's necessary to find out more.
And hey, you might have a hand in helping an author out and seeing something you might like on your TV one day. Win-win.
P.S. Pitchers and catchers report in 17 days.