Guest Blogger Dave Zeltserman: The Whole Sordid Business

What a way for me to talk about the film deal for my book, Outsourced. Of course, I’m being facetious. Sort of. My bank heist novel, Outsourced, is about a group of software engineers who see their middleclass lives disintegrating thanks to the industry’s push to outsourcing, and out of desperation come up with what they think is a brilliant plan to rob a bank. Outsourced came out this past February from Serpent’s Tail with Booklist calling it a ‘small gem of crime fiction’, The Boston Globe saying, ‘You can outsource software engineering, but so far at least you can’t outsource crime writing as good as Zeltserman’s.’, and other similarly enthusiastic reviews from newspapers around the world. But while the book has just been released, I’ve been living with a potential film deal for Outsourced since 2005. Let me start from the beginning.

I wrote Outsourced in 2004, and at the time I had editors at Morrow and other houses try to acquire the book, but it always got shot down internally because it was decided the book was too dark, or that outsourcing wouldn’t be an issue by the book was released in 2005, or other such silliness. I was just about to give up on it when my literary agent told me that he had gotten it to one of Hollywood’s top film agents, Steve Fisher at APA, and Steve was sold on it. Now as I found out later, it makes it a lot tougher to get a film deal when there’s no book deal in place, and I think Steve just assumed someone in NY would want to publish Outsourced, otherwise I’m not sure he would’ve moved forward. Anyway, he started pitching to the studios, and for the next three years we went through a pattern where just as I was convinced the film was dead, something would resurrect the project and give me hope.  At one point we going to get a cable series deal with some very big people involved, but that ended up falling through. Next it looked like we were going to sign these two very hot screenwriters who had worked on the Showtime series Sleeper Cell. The reason they were so hot was that they had just sold a Robin Hood script to Russell Crowe, and because of that they had to drop out of Outsourced when Crowe wanted them to fly to Australia to work on his script. And then finally, just as I had given up all hope, Constantin Film and Impact Pictures got involved—Impact Pictures are the guys who make the Resident Evil movies, among other films.

This was in 2008 and I still hadn’t sold Outsourced to a publisher yet, and that almost made me walk away from selling the film option when Impact & Constantin insisted on being able to novelize the movie if I didn’t have the book published by the time they went into production. Fortunately, we were able to work out a compromise, and as it turns out, Serpent’s Tail published the book well before they went into production. The way the option was structured, they’re able to renew for two years if they wish. So last year the script was written and approved, and tested off the charts with focus groups. When the second renewal came up this February, it looked like the film company (Constantin) wasn’t going to pick it up, and I was once again thinking the project was dead, and then at the last second the producers signed on a very hot director whose last movie made a ton of money, and the option was quickly picked up. So now it’s a matter of the producers finding a US distributor and casting, and then they’ll be buying the film rights from me the moment before they start shooting. Hell, it’s been a long process so far, but my film agent is convinced that with the director they signed on that at this point filming the movie is a certainty. I hope so.

Dave Zeltserman won the 2010 Shamus Award for ‘Julius Katz’ and is the acclaimed author of the ‘man out of prison’ crime trilogy: Small Crimes, Pariah and Killer, where Small Crimes was picked by NPR as one of the five best crime and mystery novels of 2008, and Small Crimes and Pariah (2009) were both picked by the Washington Post as best books of the year. His recent The Caretaker of Lorne Field received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it a ’superb mix of humor and horror’, and has been shortlisted by ALA for best horror novel of 2010. Outsourced (2011) has already been called ‘a small gem of crime fiction’ by Booklist and has been optioned by Impact Pictures and Constantin Film.

His latest book is Dying Memories (StoneGate Ink).

You can visit Dave’s website at Connect with him on Facebook at


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