Gnome Attack Roundup: Sony to Option Film Rights; Robert Zemeckis Attached to Project (and I'm Giving Away Free Books to Celebrate!)

On Friday morning, I got an e-mail from a coworker with the subject line reading “Holy. Crap.” That just about sums up my weekend. I received word late Thursday night that Sony Pictures Animation is in the final stages of optioning film rights to How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack. Robert Zemeckis, the director behind Back to the Future and a ton of other movies, is attached to the project and plans to make it a combination of CGI and live action. First, I will explain how the book giveaway works. Read below to learn a little about how this film deal came to be.

BOOK GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post within one week. I will pick 2 (two) winners at random and send both of them all 3 of my books: 1) How to Survive a Garden Gnome Attack; 2) the 2011 Guide to Literary Agents; and 3) Formatting & Submitting Your Manuscript, 3rd Ed.. You may win this contest even if you have won blog contests before. (Update: Vosco & Marleen won.)


Here is a basic timeline of events:

  • Sept 2010: My humor book is published.
  • Sept 2010: I signed with Gotham Group to handle book-to-film rights. Luke Sandler is the man who runs point on this. The book is sent out to producers for their consideration.
  • Oct 2010: Some producers show interest; others don’t. No news.
  • Nov 2010: I am told that the book is now out on exclusive to a production company. When I remark that this goes against our plan not to allow an exclusive, I am told that the company is big enough to be granted one. I ask who the producer is and am told, “Robert Zemeckis.” I call my agent a liar.
  • Dec 2010: For the first time, I am told that Zemeckis is attaching himself to the project. This makes a possible film adaptation of Gnomes go from 0 to 100 mph instantly (or “0 to 88 mph,” as Linda joked in comments). I call my agent a liar again.
  • Jan 20, 2011 (9 p.m.): My agent calls me. I am busy and do not answer.
  • Jan 20, 2011 (9:04 p.m.): My agent calls again. I pick up this time, wondering what is so important. She says Sony is going to pre-empt the deal and option the film rights. I would have called her a liar but I was speechless.
  • April 14, 2011: The news finally breaks, and the deal is reported by everyone, it seems. News appears in The Hollywood Reporter,, Variety, Ain’t It Cool News, Slashfilm, and more.


I wrote about this previously in a news roundup, so I won’t rehash everything here, but what an option means is that the studio buys the rights to develop the project for a set amount of time: 18 months. After that, they can option it again, buy the rights outright and greenlight the film, or just give the film rights back to me. This good news does not mean that Gnomes will become a movie tomorrow or next year. Lots of stuff gets optioned that never gets filmed. We just don’t know. This is just one step in the process, but a big, big step.

I grew up on Zemeckis’s movies. Remember
when George McFly punches Biff out?

How to Survive a
Garden Gnome Attack

Media requests & interviews: If you would like a free review copy of Gnomes
for an interview or roundup or any kind of mention, please contact me
at literaryagent(at) and I will send your information
to my publicist. Thanks!

More Gnome news: To see all the news & reviews & coverage of my book, click on “My Writing Life” at the end of this post.

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