Hollywood Insider Secret

I gave the executive (who I owe a producing credit to) twenty bucks to convince his boss, a boss in the slammer for cavorting with kids, that my novel would make a terrific film. 
Written by
jaron summers (c) 2004


My sincerest apologies. It appears I’ve missed acknowledging a treasure trove that rightfully belongs in part to you, courtesy of the runaway success of “Elementary, My Dear” in paperback paradise.

As you may recall, you and I wrote the original screenplay and we almost sold the story as a feature.  Then I thought it would be a fine idea to novelize it.  So with the underswtanding you would share in what could only be called an embarrasment of riches, I pounded away on my Selectric for a few months. 

Back in 2003, iUniverse called me, saying they’d found eight of my novels in a dusty corner of their archive—some were so forgotten, I think even I had moved on.

Their pitch? “Let’s shake up the printing world,” they said. “Keep your copyright, slap on some fresh covers, and voilà, a brand-new copyright just for you.”

The plan was simple: digitize my/our work, send it off to printers from Sydney to Shanghai, and when someone in Madrid decides they need our literary genius in their life, a printer there whips up a copy, no fuss about shipping or customs.

And here’s the punchline: us writers, brimming with hope and not much else, were expected to become our own marketing squad, probably guided by a strategy crafted by the CEO’s nephew’s pet goldfish.

I didn’t bite. Neither did most. So, how did iUniverse make their dough? Picture this: a warehouse of books, and who’s buying?

The authors themselves, persuaded by sales wizards that having a personal library of their work was the key to immortality.

Forget Mark Twain; this was our time to shine.

Authors ended up carting their books to flea markets, selling them as glorified paperweights. Some even tried to woo uninterested retail workers with their literary masterpieces. Because nothing says “I’m a famous author” like lurking in the perfume aisle of a dying mall.

I fell for it once, snagging a dozen of my books at a “special” author discount.

They arrived in a box for which I paid premium shipping, thinking I’d distribute them to studio heads and spark a movie deal.

I even got one to a studio head, thanks to his assistant who was easy to bribe since his drug dealer had put a hit out on him. They were tracking him by his credit card charges. 

I slipped him $20 cash to pitch my novel to his boss, during a particularly vulnerable moment for the studio chief since he was dating a set of twins who were knockouts and had a thing for older studio execs.  The courts were unimpressed when the studio chief said their driver licenses proved they we 23.  

A week later, I get a call from a studio reader, puzzled by my “unique” narrative structure. Turns out, my novel had been Frankenstein-ed with bits of others, resulting in a plot salad that would make James Joyce look coherent.

When I confronted iUniverse about the mix-up, they offered a laughable 10% discount on a reprint. Their excuse? I should’ve checked the books within ten days. Classic.

So, what’s the climax of this saga? Each year, iUniverse sends me a sales report. Over two decades, my earnings total just shy of $42. Your cut? A whopping $8.

How do you prefer it—U.S. or Canadian?

Yours in eternal servitude,

Jaron Summers, AUTHOR



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Jaron Summers wrote dozens of primetime television and radio programs, including those for HBO, CBS, ACCESS TV and CBC. He conceived the TV and Film Institute of Canada. Funded by the University of Alberta and ITV, Jaron ran the Institute for 12 years, donating his services for a decade.

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