Sunday, January 6, 2013

Authors can learn an important lesson from TV producers

All in the Family was a popular and important American TV show. It was produced by Norman Lear and on the air with new episodes from 1971 through 1979.

Shows spun off from it include:
Maude (1972–1978)
Good Times (1974–1979)
The Jeffersons (1975–1985)
Checking In (1981)
Archie Bunker's Place (1979–1983)
Gloria (1982–1983)
704 Hauser (1994)

Happy Days, created by Garry Marshall, originally aired 1974–1984 and led to:

Laverne and Shirley (1976–1983)
Blansky's Beauties (1977)
Mork and Mindy (1978–1982)
Out of the Blue (1979)
Joanie Loves Chachi (1982-1983)

Before "Days," Ronnie Howard played Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show. Ron is no longer acting, but he produces movies and has two human spinoffs who are actresses 

Law & Order, produced by Dick Wolf (originally aired 1990–2010) has given us:

Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999–present)
Conviction (2006)
Law & Order: LA (2010–2011)
Deadline (2000–2001)
Law & Order: Criminal Intent (2001–2011)
Crime & Punishment (2002–2004)
Law & Order: Trial by Jury (2005–2006)
Paris enquêtes criminelles (2007–2008) (French adaptation of Law & Order: Criminal Intent)
Закон и порядок: Преступный умысел (2007–present) (Russian adaptation of Law & Order: Criminal Intent)
Закон и Порядок: Отдел Оперативных Расследований (2007–present) (Russian adaptation of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit)
Law & Order: UK (2009–present)
Law & Order: Cape Town 

Dick Wolf just wrote his first novel. Detective Lenny Briscoe, played by Jerry Orbach (above), was on the show from 1992 to 2004 and appeared in three Law & Order spin-offs. Lenny/Jerry died while the show was still in production. Fred Thompson was a senator, then L&A DA Arthur Branch, and then failed to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. Post-L&A, Jill Hennessy, Angie Harmon, Sam Waterston, Chris Noth and other actors found work on the screen.

So, what does this have to do with books?


Lots of books are parts of a series, including the well-known James Bond and Harry Potter dynasties.

But even books that are not parts of a fictional series can spin off other books.

My Become a Real Self Publisher was first published in 2009. It has led to at least SEVENTEEN spinoffs, and I'm not through spinning yet.

I uploaded the most recent, Can I Really Publish a Decent Book with Microsoft Word?  as a Kindle e-book to Amazon yesterday.

My first self-pubbed book was I Only Flunk My Brightest Students, published in 2008. It has led to at least six spinoffs.

I uploaded the most recent, Do You Really Want to Know the Secret Ingredient in the World's Greatest Coleslaw? as a Kindle e-book to Amazon yesterday. It will probably be on sale today.

Spinoffs have been an important part of authoring since the beginning. Homer did it, Shakespeare did it. The New Testament was a spinoff of the Old Testament. 

The words you've already written are some of your greatest assets. Look them over. Think about how you can modify them, repackage them and update them -- and start spinning.

- - - 

After I uploaded this I discovered that Forbes recently published New Year's Resolutions for the Book Publishing Industry. The first one is "publishers should resolve to find new ways to develop more of the intellectual property they own." Forbes is right.

No comments:

Post a Comment