Whenever I speak to a group, I am inevitably asked when one of my books will be made into a movie.
There are at least two ways to deal with movie rights: to sell them or to option them.
Selling the movie rights means the producer/ director/ actor/ studio had purchased it through infinity. It's often the reason why studios produce remakes: they own the rights so they can make new versions of the same material as many times as they'd like. This used to be the only way to get a book made into a movie.
Optioning the movie rights means I give a producer/ director/ actor/ studio permission to have exclusive rights to it for a specified period of time. During that time, they need to get together their group to make the movie: a producer, director, funding, main actors, scriptwriters, etc. Before the end of the specified term (1 to 3 years, depending on the deal) they must submit the information to the author and begin to move forward - or the rights go back to the author.
In both cases, money changes hands.
In the past, I have optioned several of my books. But funding might have fallen through or the actors desired for the script were not available or for one reason or another, the movies didn't get made. My agent is now working hard to option the books for film - and I would particularly love to see Black Swamp Mysteries as a television series.
On my bucket list: to have my book, The Tempest Murders (which hasn't been released yet) made into a movie - with an Alex Band soundtrack!