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Your Options on Options

This event is part of You Are A WriterInspired by beloved components of PEN America’s Emerging Voices Fellowship and Humanitas’s New Voices Fellowship, the series will provide an introduction to topics that are foundational to understanding and launching a television and film writing career as a literary writer.

Let’s say you’re a novelist. Your book sold okay. Your literary agent liked it. You’re pretty sure your friends read it. Your phone rings. It’s Hollywood. The whole town wants to option your book and turn it into a movie or show. Awesome, just absolutely fantastic. Maybe this was the plan all along when your publisher sent galleys out. But what does “option” mean? How do you translate Hollywood legalese? What rates do a studio or production company typically offer to an author whose material they’re purchasing the rights to? How long does it take for a deal to go from a draft to an executed contract? You have representation – a lawyer, maybe an agent – but what are the roles they play in putting this arrangement together and what red flags can they help you recognize? To shine a line on these questions and more, join us for this insightful discussion.

This virtual event will start at 5pm PT / 7pm CT / 8pm ET.

Recordings will not be available following the event. Please sign-up for the PEN America newsletter for information regarding future workshops and events.



Jade Chang headshotJade Chang’s debut novel, The Wangs vs. the World, was named one of the best books of the year by NPR, Elle, and Amazon, was optioned by Hulu and has been published in twelve countries. She is also a film and TV writer (The Baby-Sitters Club/Netflix) and has written and voiced two non-fiction audio projects: The List (Amazon Originals) and You’ve Already Changed Your Life (Audible Originals). Her journalism and essays have appeared in The NYT Magazine, The WSJ, The Best American Food Writing 2021, and others.


headshot of Anastasia Alen

Anastasia Alen negotiates high-priority deals and transactions while providing strategic guidance for both media and entertainment companies as well as producers across critical stages of engagement and content creation. Anastasia leverages her unique combination of first-hand experience working for leading global entertainment companies and premier talent agencies to provide comprehensive business and legal counsel to clients. Her specialized knowledge enables Anastasia to anticipate issues and protect the legal, business, and creative interests of her clients, maximizing opportunities and advancing their goals. 

Anastasia Alen headshot

Amy Schiffman has been a literary agent and manager in the film and television fields for over 25 years. Schiffman joined Echo Lake Entertainment in 2018 to build and run the intellectual property department. 

Her Hollywood career began in the Literary Properties division of the William Morris Agency where she was Vice President. There she sold the books Friday Night Lights, Apollo 13, Sleepers, Permanent Midnight, and Primal Fear, all of which were produced as feature films during her tenure at the agency. Schiffman went on to run the literary properties division at The Gersh Agency, and later became a partner in the literary management firm Intellectual Property Group. She represents Dennis Lehane, (Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone, Shutter Island, The Drop), Don DeLillo (White Noise), and Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone), among many others. Her notable book to film projects include the international bestseller The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Anne Shaeffer and Annie Barrows. The film, starring Lilly James and directed by Mike Newell, is currently streaming on Netflix. In the fall, Netflix plans to release the Noah Baumbach-directed feature based on White Noise. Later this year, Apple will premier Dennis Lehane’s first original limited series, Black Bird.

Héctor Tobar is the author of five books published in fifteen languages, including the critically acclaimed, New York Times bestseller: Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine and the Miracle That Set Them Free. His most recent novel is The Last Great Road Bum, published by MCD/Farrar, Straus & Giroux. Héctor is also an associate professor at the University of California, Irvine. He’s written for The New YorkerLos Angeles Times, and other publications. Deep Down Dark was adapted into the film The 33, starring Antonio Banderas. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Short StoriesL.A. NoirZyzzyva, and Slate.


This program is co-presented by Humanitas and the Writers Guild Foundation and made possible by the generous support of the Los Angeles Department of Arts and Culture and the

Pasadena Literary Alliance

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