Considering Book Deals as a Former Hostage

Hostage US does not have expertise on securing book deals or selling life rights. However, after consulting with former hostages and family members who have been through this process, along with a number of agents, we have produced this brief which explains the basic options open to those wishing to tell their story, along with a list of agents we have been in touch with. For some, telling their story through writing can be a cathartic process.

This brief is provided as guidance only and does not constitute advice.

Hostage US is not able to represent or provide detailed advice for family members and former hostages on selling their stories.

Here are Some Key Considerations

1.  There are two routes to take:

  • Sell your life rights – probably larger amount of money up front, but significantly less control over what is produced and no ongoing income from films, TV, etc.
  • Write a book then sell the rights to the book – ability to control your story

2.  Those who have written books strongly advise you to work with an agent. They will fight for you, get the best deal, remove a lot of the stress from the process. You can also work with a lawyer. They charge by the hour whereas agents charge a percentage fee.

3.  It is vital to have a good rapport with your agent. Trust your instinct about who you get on with, and who you feel you can work with.

4.  Former hostages stress the importance of taking your time. Interest in your story will not go away (and this thought is backed up by agents). Taking your time will allow you to reflect on what you want to do, what you want to say, how much you want to reveal and how you want to frame your story. Doing it at the right moment can be cathartic; doing it too soon can be detrimental to your wellbeing.

5.  Thoughts on using a writer:  unless you are a strong established writer, journalist or author, you can expect a publisher to request you use a ghost writer as this minimizes their risks. This will likely avoid delays and considerably reduce the amount of time you need to dedicate to the writing process. You should ensure you have written into your agreement with your agent/publisher that you will have final sign off on the manuscript.

For more information or to learn about our available support, please contact Hostage US.