Support Shawn's writng with a donation

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Tyler Perry Sued for Stealing an Idea- WTF?

Taken Straight from Amazon. Used with "fair Use" Under
copyright Law. And people say my paperback covers suck.
WTF is this HOT MESS? 

Author Terri Donald aka TLO Red'ness is suing filmmaker Tyler Perry alleging he stole the idea for his film Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds from her book Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit. Donald is seeking compensation of $225,000.

According to Donald, she sent Perry a copy of her book in 2007, when it was first published.

Self-published. Five years ago.

As an author with over 10 years of experience in the self-publishing business I can tell you she doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

There are a couple of Red Flags to Donald’s story.

First, she sent a book to Perry. That is a HUGE mistake. Completely Amateur hour. No author worth their salt work ever initiates contact by sending a book to anyone in the entertainment business.

If they make any initial contact with someone, it’s usually through a one-page query letter.

That’s right a one-page query letter. With the logline (a short sentence describing the premise of the story) or a brief synopsis and a request to get the book read.

And if a production company is interested in an author’s work, they’ll send them a signed written release asking for permission to read said work. Usually the author signs this release, makes a copy for themselves and sends the original back with a copy of their book. If they communicate through e-mail, an author usually keeps a hard copy of all e-mails on file.

Without that signed written release the production company will not touch that book. That release tells them that the author is giving them permission to read the work and absolves them of all liability after reading that work.

Now a production company contacting an author or a rep on a query is a million to one shot. The chances of it happening are slim to none due to the legal liability issues.

Usually when a production company like Tyler Perry Studios is interested in an author’s work, they’ll contact them. But more likely, they’ll contact their agent. Production companies are very strict about doing things through legal channels.

It helps them avoid legal situations like this.

And they usually don’t contact a writer’s representative unless they can prove they have over a million readers. Production companies are scared of risk and want a guaranteed audience for the film they make based on an author’s work.

I doubt Tyler Perry Studios would have had an incentive to contact Donald about Bad Apples Can Be Good Fruit. Before the article hit on the internet announcing her lawsuit it had  an Amazon sales rank of 4,999,265.

All five of my self-published paperbacks are in that sales range or a little higher.

Not that three million or four million sales rank is that impressive.

And I can tell you from experience most of the books that are in that sales range barely sell 5 copies. At best they sell two to three copies a year.

Does that mean I should go out and get an agent for my work? Does that mean I’ll be able to sell the rights to my work for some duckets?


If I had a day job right now I’d keep it. And plan to stay there. Because unless I’m doing J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer sales, (best-seller) no production company worth it’s salt is going to contact me about my work.

Second, no production company is going to steal an idea. It’s a whole helluva lot cheaper for a production company to just buy the film and TV rights to a book for a small amount instead of stealing from a low-rung person like a self-published author.

Production companies HATE the lawsuits involved with stealing. Because they’re Federal cases. And Federal Copyright cases can go on for YEARS. Even DECADES without resolution.

Tying up property and costing them revenue. Along with those hundreds of millions of dollars in legal fees.

Third, Why would Tyler Perry steal from a self-published author? He has over $500 Million dollars. He can easily buy the rights for a book for $100,000.

Or he could buy an option for those book rights for $25,000-$30,000 until he could get the money together to finance the project.

And why would Tyler Perry want to buy the rights to a self-published book? Out of all the books out there for him to adapt he’d be more interested in buying the rights to a book with an audience. Books by Christian fiction authors with a following. An established audience. Properties that would bring him a stronger return with distributors, theater owners and would ensure a strong $20 million box office opening.

That’s usually how business is done in the Entertainment business regarding adaptation.

But Ms. Donald thinks business is done differently for her.

So she sends a book to Tyler Perry. Unsolicited.

I bet this woman didn’t even have the brains to at least send it with Delivery Confirmation. Or send it Registered Mail so she could have a record that it was sent. That’s what I do when I send a review copy to a book club.

Here’s the deal: No one who is serious about getting their work read by a production company ever sends their work unsolicited. An author who is serious about getting their work read knows that people like Tyler Perry get sent hundreds of books every year.

And most of that mail gets sent back. Return to Sender.

For numerous legal reasons, Tyler Perry doesn’t read his mail. His assistants open the mail at a corporate office and screen through it for lighting rods like unsolicited manuscripts, unsolicited screenplays, and unsolicited queries.

The only mail going to his desk are mail from his agent and his manager, and maybe some family members.

The rest of those unsolicited materials like Ms. Donald’s self-published book are treated like junk mail. They are usually sent back return to sender, destroyed, or just donated to local libraries by people working in Tyler Perry’s business office.

Tyler Perry doesn’t see or touch anyone’s books.

And from the looks of his work it’s clear he hasn’t. Has this woman ever seen Tyler Perry’s movies? Would you want to say he stole your idea after watching one of his movies?

Seriously, I wouldn’t want my books associated with Tyler Perry. His storytelling skills are SUCKTACULAR at worst and HORRIBLE at best.

Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds was one of the WORST movies ever made. To say he stole the idea for it would be saying he stole a BAD IDEA. If he had to steal to make a film like that, I’d hate to see the book he stole from to make that shitpile. If I went into the shitload of stuff Perry got WRONG in Good Deeds I’d be here all day.

But if the synopsis for the bio is an example of Ms. Donald’s writing I can say she’s just as bad a writer as Perry. Taken straight from Amazon. Com:

A compelling story of a woman s struggle to free herself from the past in order to move forward in the future with the man she loves. This mysterious secret must unfold in order for the woman to allow a committed vow. In this story her past unravels tragedy, murder and her secret. What the man isn t being honest about is that he also has a secret that materializes in the midst of the storm and the raging fury it holds. The two come to grips with the truths and decide for the future and what it has to offer them.

WTF? That doesn't sound like Good Deeds. In fact it sounds WORSE than anything Tyler Perry has written. Just a mess.  

And her bio:

Terri Vanessa Donald is a 36-year-old female writer who first began writing as a hobby. After meeting Steve Martin through casting agent Mindy Morin in Los Angeles during the shooting of LA Story, Steve showed her manuscript format. Two years later, she began writing for Artist Darrin O Brien, a.k.a. Snow, and had three-time platinum success. Terri plans to take the book industry by storm with her Maya Angelou-style of writing technique. She is a proud mother with family values and a native-born New Yorker who is now serving proudly in the US Army during this very exciting venture.

Good Gravy what a mess.

Where do I start? She meets Steve Martin through a casting agent during the shooting of L.A. Story.

Now L.A. Story was released in 1991, which means the film was filmed during 1990 or 1989. So at best she’s a Hollywood wanna-be.
She further goes on to say Steve Martin shows her manuscript format during the shooting of L.A. Story ? WTF? I can learned how to format manuscripts at the local library.

And how does she go from writing in Manuscript Format to writing for Snow? And who had three-time platinum success? Snow or Her? Hard to tell from this confusing sentence structure.

She plans to take the writing world by storm with her Maya Angelou style of writing technique- MY GOD THAT IS THE STUPIDEST SENTENCE I HAVE EVER FUCKING READ.

I’m not even going to touch that last sentence in her bio….Just ….Damn.

And the diaperswappers wanted to say The Cassandra Cookbook was the worst thing they ever read. I wonder if they looked at this book. It was good enough for Tyler Perry to allegedly steal from.

No wonder this book has an Amazon sales rank lower than mine. If the bio is that bad I’d hate to read the book. Just…Just. …

If I were Steve Martin or Snow I’d be suing her to get my name off the bio on this damn book. If he taught her how to format a manuscript and she’s writing this terribly, I don’t want anyone to know I taught her anything. That whole paragraph reads like someone who’s dumber than a box of rocks. In close to 20 years she hasn’t learned ANYTHING ABOUT WRITING.

Nor has she learned anything about business. You’d think someone who worked with Steve Martin or Snow would have learned how the entertainment business worked when it came to queries and contracts. A person who has been in the business that long would know better than to send unsolicited material to someone like Tyler Perry. If anything she’d be using her connections through Snow. After all, if she wrote for him, she’d know his agent or someone in that circle.

This is clearly a cash grab from a desperate wanna-be. She’s suing for $225,000. That’s not even fair compensation.  That number is what she hopes to get from the cash settlement. That’s what people are looking for in lawsuits like this, not fair compensation.

Buying the rights for an adaptation depends on the value of the property. But I doubt this book is worth $225,000.

I doubt it’s worth even $2.

Bad Apples can Be good Fruit is not a New York Times Best-seller, Essence Bestseller or a USA Today Bestseller . It’s not even  a midlist title from a trade publisher. It’s a self-published book from a POD company. Vanity books which are considered the bottom of the barrel in the entertainment game. Who would want to steal ideas from self-published books?

And I thought Tyler Perry movies rotted brain cells. Only a dumbass or a Hood Rat would think sending a book to a celebrity meant that they read their work. Moreover only a truly stupid person would think that someone would steal their work and make a film based on that work. People in the entertainment game are paranoid and that fear makes them avoid touching anything not given to them by their agents or managers. No one in the entertainment business touches anything unless it has a proven value.

Look, there are no shortcuts to getting work seen by people in the entertainment industry. You just can’t send someone an unsolicited book and hope for superstar success. Learn the procedures, follow the rules and you won’t wind up in situations like this.


  1. If I had a day job right now I’d keep it. And plan to stay there. Because unless I’m doing J.K. Rowling or Stephanie Meyer sales, (best-seller) no production company worth it’s salt is going to contact me about my work.

    Shawn I know a best selling author who has had her books made into movies for BET. She has won various awards.

    She's up there in sales with Jackie Collins. James Patterson and others.

    She JUST retired from being a school nurse for 36 years. She says never quit your job because you sold some books.

    (Oh and she also told me that a HUGE open market is creating books for black boys-hint hint-)

    So your advice on that is shared by many writers.

    This woman who sent her book to Tyler Perry obviously didn't talk to a veteran writer. I mean why would you send it to him? That makes her look bad more than him.

  2. Who an expert? Your opinion is ignorant!!!!

  3. The blogger sounds like an angry woman hating jealous individual who obviously makes a living trying to be a Firestarter. The writing from this blogger sounds like a person who has nothing, is nothing, will never amount to nothinh because his articles are about nothing intelligent. It seems since he is from the Bronx and she made it successfully out of the Bronx he is jealous of her multi-platinum music writing success, her ability to write a book thst he calls so bad but have never read and states who would want to steal a book from a POD self published writer, well a very smart business man because the the less visibility the book gets the easier the theft. The non best seller raked in a whopping 40 million plus at the box office. Also ghetto hood rat, not everyone from a ghetto is a hood rat, nobody dissing your ratchet ghetto hood rat review and you still in the sewer. Definitely do not quit your day job, if you have one, you just may be writing no paying blogs living on some chick's section 8 up in the Bronx....

  4. Wow. Firestarter and shit-starter. Here it is 2015 and you're responding to a blog written back in 2012. Check the date. And What was the end result of the lawsuit? The judge ruled in Tyler Perry's favor.

    I just got an inquiry by an actress for my All About Nikki book last year. And I got a signed written release from her manager BEFORE I gave a book to her. You don't hand anything to anyone without getting some sort of paper trail behind it in the entertainment business. You don't hand a script to ANYONE without a signed written release.

    Why would I be jealous of this woman? I was not ripping her musical success. No, The paragraph was deconstructing how BAD her writing is. That Bio was HORRIBLE.
    and if that was the example of her writing, then what would the book be like.