The Netflix Literary Connection
Netflix has been on a book acquisition spree over the past year, developing screen adaptations of dozens of novels, series, short story collections, and graphic novels. About 50 of these literary properties are being turned into series projects, while the screening service has announced plans to adapt only a handful into features—a list that includes Button Man by John Wagner, I’m Thinking of Ending Things by Iain Reid, Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani, and The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry.
Many of Netflix’s deals begin with Maria Campbell Literary Associates. In 2017, Netflix exclusively retained that agency for its book-scouting efforts to find English- and foreign-language titles to adapt from around the world, including from the U.S. “I’m on the phone with them every week, talking about what’s going on in New York, what’s new, and about library properties as well,” Thunell said. In addition, Netflix executives now attend such international literary rights events as the London Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair.
Campbell’s agency has also helped the company forge deeper relationships with publishers. For example, Netflix is adapting Frank Miller and Tom Wheeler’s illustrated novel Cursed as a series and coordinating release schedules with Simon & Schuster. “That is the kind of partnership that we’re really craving,” Thunell said. “To get in early with publishers and do something that is really mutually beneficial.”