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Synonyms: tie-in novel, authorized sequel, sequels, pro novel, Profic
See also: novelization; adaptation, bookverse, movieverse, comicsverse
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

A tie-in is a published work meant to complement (and derive a profit from) another published work. In general, tie-ins are novels or graphic novels that spring from a movie or television show.

A movie made from a novel is an adaptation and may or may not be faithful to its source. A novelization, by contrast, is a rewriting of the movie script in novel form and thus does not deviate from the plot of the movie. An authorized sequel is a tie-in work written with the consent of the author or their estate.

Professional Fanfic?

It is often argued that tie-in novels are professional fanfic. Many tie-in writers started out writing fanfiction, e.g., Una McCormack, Marion Zimmer Bradley. A fan in 2010 commented: "[When] a published fan fiction writer - someone who writes primarily tie-in novels in someone else's universe - announces that fan fiction is evil, because doing it for love is wrong, but doing it for money is right. This makes me make a frowny face, because that isn't what they said in Sex Ed. [1]

Some tie-in writers and editors very much disagree that tie-in novels are professional fanfic e.g., John Ordover, Lee Goldberg.

Whether "work-for-hire" and "media tie-ins" are worthy of being called "real" books has been an issue of contention and discussion in the science fiction and fantasy community. See Science Fiction Writer Robert J. Sawyer: Crazy SFWA Position, Archived version, published in 1998.

Pocket Books "Star Trek" Guidelines (1985)


The history of the tie-in novel is ambiguous. Some properties, published in obscurity, exercise great freedom to change the canon from which they are written (e.g., Diane Duane's Star Trek novels of the late 1970s and early 1980s). Other properties are written strictly to fit into existing canon — neither to enlarge it, nor to occlude any possibilities — and thus often find themselves ending on a reset button. One way tie-in writers have found around this problem is to write original characters in tie-in universes; Peter David created a whole series of Star Trek novels in this vein that have been very successful.

As a Gateway to Fandom

From a fan interview in 2012:
Alan Dean Foster's work. And I had devoured those, and they set off all kinds of bells and whistles in my brain, and story ideas were rumbling around up there, and, y'know, you have nice little imaginings, especially if you're nursing a baby at two o'clock in the morning, and your mind goes off and playing here and there. But that was the first fanfiction. And like a lot of zines at the time, at the end there were some addresses of people you could contact. And other ads for other zines, and I started finding my way through that way, to get into contact, and trying to find other information. And Star Trek Lives, I read that, and that had information about the Welcommittee, and how do you get a hold of these things, and I read about classic stories, and went, I want to find those stories. So, then I began tracking down the editors, or authors, and writing them, and asking if they had zines still in print, if they had stories still in print, was there some way I could get hold of them, could I copy them if I could find a copy... [2]

Discussion and Acceptance of Pro Novels in Different Fandoms

Tie-ins rarely develop followings in fandom as powerful as their source materials do. Supernatural tie-ins, e.g., regularly got details of canon wrong, and are generally not taken as canonical. On the other hand, Buffy comics which continue after the TV series are often discussed as if they definitively extend canon (perhaps due to the fact that Joss Whedon himself wrote the tie-in).

Discussion of Quality

  • From Boldly Writing "The professional novels got a lot of press. In January [1983 issue of Interstat], Sonni Cooper wrote 'By the time this is published, my Trek novel, Black Fire, will be available. I'd like some feedback.' She got both positive and negative reactions. S. L. R. responded, 'Black Fire, in my opinion, is the poorest excuse for a pro novel that it has ever been my misfortune to read. In fact, there is, to my knowledge, no excuse for this book.' Jeffrey K. Wagner had a more positive reaction: "Black Fire, by Cooper, was exciting, action-filled, and generally very believable.' In April [1983 issue of Interstat), Lisa Wahl and Julia Ecklar complained once more about the poor quality of the pro novels: 'Is everyone as tired as we are at discovering that Trek novels by award-winning science fiction writers are not as good as many fans' works?" In June, Lisa Wahl suggested that Star Trek fans boycott the Timescape Star Trek novels in October and November of that year, in order to protest their poor quality. That got a lot of fans writing in. Several fans said they were afraid that such a boycott would hurt sales of Yesterday's Son, which they had read in manuscript form. Howard Weinstein was one of them, though he added, 'Lisa and Julia get no argument from me when they complain that not all the pro Star Trek novels are as good as they might be.' Howard also wrote, 'Since the publication of Covenant [of the Crown], I've gotten several hundred letters from readers...I've found overwhelming approval.' This matched reports of every single pro author who wrote to a letterzine: all reported getting hundreds of positive responses."
  • Another fan in Universal Translator (February 1983) comments on a recently released Star Trek pro novel, contrasting the quality of the stories in the fan realm and the pro realm: "Black Fire is fan-fiction at a level only millimeters above the mediocre, and it's frustrating to see it professionally published when superior material remains confined to fanzines and therefore unknown to the general public."
  • The Star Wars letterzine Southern Enclave has much discussion regarding "pro-novels": whether or not they are canon, that they have no "heart," that their writers are constrained too much by the Lucas franchise, that writers don't know "what to do about Luke," that they tend to veer towards "suburbia" and too-perfect children, that Han becomes a neutered lap-dog and that the novels are generally a fail.
  • While tie-in novels are often picked apart by fans for their lack of continuity, understanding of character, and emotional resonance, one book in the Mass Effect fandom got it so wrong that its publisher issued a public apology: "The teams at Del Rey and BioWare would like to extend our sincerest apologies to the Mass Effect fans for any errors and oversights made in the recent novel Mass Effect: Deception. We are currently working on a number of changes that will appear in future editions of the novel. We would like to thank all Mass Effect fans for their passion and dedication to this ever-growing world, and assure them that we are listening and taking this matter very seriously." [3]
  • Boldly Writing says of Star Trek: TOS pro-novels: "The year 1981 marked a turning point with the pro novels. Reviews went from being almost always negative to being largely positive. Part of the change was due to a real improvement in the quality of writing, and part due to new influx of fans who never saw the classic fanzine stories of the 1970s. Some fans claimed that no Star Trek pro novel ever outshone the best fanzine stories of the 1970s. Other fanzine readers of the 1970s sided with the newer fans and claimed that some of the pro novels of the 1980s were pretty good. The 'which is better, pro writing or fanzine writing' debate continued off and on through the entire decade."
  • From a fan in 2009: "When the franchise was just taking off, TPTB (powers that be) were desperate for stories to publish, so they drew on fan fiction authors as well as known sci-fi authors to get novels out there for purchase. It is pretty easy to tell which books were written by genuine fans of the show, and which ones were from sci-fi writers who really knew very little about the show and were hired mainly for name recognition. They tended to write characters acting in ways that the readers finds puzzling at best, and often physical descriptions were just plain wrong. As the franchise solidified, TPTB became much more restrictive about what could be published. RULES were put into place - RULES which restricted a lot of the authors' creativity and IMO sucked the life out of some of the later stories. Personally, I loved the earlier books written by those with a genuine appreciation of the show.... even if they tended to be a bit "campy" at times. The author's true respect and love for the characters and the Trek universe is so obvious. But as the years passed, too many of the stories started seeming more like generic sci-fi with the characters being plugged in to roles that could have been filled by anyone. I have seen this happen very often with tie-in books, which is why I tend to prefer fan fiction. I started finding the books boring. They became more plot oriented and less character driven. Since I had always been attracted to the show for the characters, this bothered me, and eventually I stopped buying the books and focused solely upon the fan fiction." [4]}}

A 2016: Dearth of Female Writers for Star Trek TOS Tie-ins

Some fans discussed the declining number of female writers for Pocket Book Star Trek TOS tie-ins over the years, and how in 2016, there weren't any female writers at all.

"The gif.... is the result of my research on the TOS Pocket Books novels published between 1979 and 2016 (of course the 2016 ones are as yet unpublished.) Each frame shows the ratio of authors identified with male pronouns on the internet (in green) to authors identified with female pronouns on the internet (in red), for three years of Star Trek TOS Pocket Book releases (source). There are a couple of exceptions for the three-year frames. The first frame covers 1979-1983, because only one novel, Gene Roddenberry’s novelisation of The Motion Picture, was published in 1979, and the next one was published in mid-1981. The final frame covers 2015-2016, including forthcoming novels listed on Wikipedia. 2008 is not represented because no Star Trek TOS novels were published."[5]
tl;dr - Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing.

Okay, so I’ve been doing some research. I noticed recently that all - and I mean all of the current TOS Star Trek novels are written by men. Every. Single. One. Obviously men have a place in Star Trek. Obviously men have a place in science fiction. But women have a hell of a place in Star Trek too. Women were instrumental in keeping it on our screens and so instrumental in the early novels and fan fiction. Also, we tend to write differently. Most importantly for a lot of us, we write Spock differently. I acknowledge that the early days of Star Trek writing were biased more towards women. But surely we should be aiming for an equality of the sexes in Star Trek writing, especially since men and women come at it from different angles and probably read for different reasons. Since the turn of the century Star Trek writing has become formulaic, commercialised, and boring. It’s a far cry from the early days when essentially the novels were fanfiction put in professional covers. And we love fanfiction. Sure, some is terrible, but some is absolutely awesome.....

....So, what does this gif show? An astonishing slide towards a completely male authors. Yes, in the early days there was a female bias, but in the last five years (if we include the upcoming 2016 releases) there are no female authors at all. Not a one. Zilch. The last two frames are entirely green.

Why is this? Why have Pocket Books made this their strategy? They’ve narrowed down the range of authors massively, with only a few authors repeatedly releasing books. They’ve narrowed down on creativity and plot too. They’re ignoring female writers, and they’re ignoring female readers, too. This needs highlighting, it needs discussing, and it needs changing.[6]

Discussion on Facebook:

[Jackie T.]:"I don't think men have ever really got it. The women do."[7]
[Aconitum Napellus]: "I suppose men get it in a man's way, and women get it in a woman's way."[8]
[Jackie T.]:"Yes, you're being fair. So I would like some more written my way!"[9]
[Debbie P.]: "There were actually earlier Trek books than the ones you mention. James Blish did stories from the episodes that began to be published in the late 60s or early 70s. But you are right. Over the course of time, women authors have been eliminated from Trek novels. There were never a lot even though there were woman writing Trek fiction, but that has decresed to the point of zero. As a fan writer, I have considered submitting, but it is difficult to break in to the business. I don't like the Trek novels anymore as they are, just as you said, formulaic. I think they have found a few people who write reasonably well and sell reasonably well and are satisfied with that. I am not satisfied with the TOS Trek novels and have refused to go off on the multiple product lines they have offered. Give me TOS or forget it!"[10]
[Aconitum Napellus]: "Yes, this list is from the Wikipedia 'Pocket Books' list that starts with Gene Roddenberry's TMP novelisation. In one way I'd be honoured to be able to write a pro-novel but on the other hand I've heard such bad things from various writers who've written them, and also they've become so formulaic that there's just no room for creativity. On the other hand, fanfiction is endlessly creative, and free, as long as you pick the right writers."[11]

Discussion on tumblr:

isn’t the story that fannish women abandoned the Pocket Books gig when they realized it was a pretty rum deal?? not enough money/creative credit, and you can’t do good fic work under the creative constraints placed on profic writers. [12]
The fanlore page on tie-ins links to some documentation on drama w/Pocket Books in the 80s; I don’t believe that as a rule the payout was very good? And there’s the case of Della Van Hise’s slashy-as-hell book Killing Time, which was re-issued with the queer toned down (though even bowdlerised it’s still delish); K/S was (explicitly?) disallowed, and of course tie-ins are also really hampered by the need for a reset at the close. This article in TWC mentions the editors at Pocket wanting to avoid authors “tainted” by fanfic, so it doesn’t sound like crossover success was much encouraged.

I feel like the vibe I got irt tie-ins as a young fan at the turn of the millennium was that they were fine, but not necessarily a venue for fen to count on for either creative or financial success.

There’s still def. an issue with women’s work being unpaid; but I think it’s the old struggle that was discussed by cupidsbow, among others, back in 2007. Our independence from monetization here in fanspace gives us freedoms undreamed-of by the market - but we don’t get paid, and can’t claim our work in professional contexts. [13]
You see, that raises even more questions. I was talking earlier about how I’d heard a couple of female Star Trek authors discussing how badly they were treated by the publishers. I haven’t read similar from male authors, although there may be complaints out there. Are women treated more badly by the publishers? Are they less willing to put up with it? What’s going on here? Do the publishers perceive less of a female audience willing to hand over money? Are women going more to fan fiction than pro novels? Is it a vicious circle or something that’s deliberately being pushed? We could ask similar questions about fan fiction. Why is fan fiction so overwhelmingly dominated by women? [14]
The steep decline in women authors across all Trek books started around the time S&S stopped doing open pitches for Trek novels in the late 90s. Since that time one needs an agent to pitch an idea - agents and agencies (and gatekeepers in general) in the publishing business are pretty misogynistic, which means fewer women authors being able to pitch Trek book ideas. That’s my theory anyway! [15]
It also corresponds (probably not coincidentally) to around the time that the novels started feeling like repetitive space operas rather than actual episodes of the series.[16]
Honestly, after reading the guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable material to submit as a novel, I’m surprised anyone is publishing any Trek books. Here’s the official list.

DOs and DON'Ts There are a number of plots that we would specifically like to avoid:

1. Any story primarily about a guest star or non-Star Trek regular. This means no stories about other crews, ships, or guest characters that become the focus of the story. The novels should always “star” Kirk, Picard, Sisko et al. Paramount Pictures feels very strongly that Star Trek stories should primarily be about the Star Trek characters, who must be the major problem solvers in any Star Trek novel.
2. Death of an established crewmember or character, or any other permanent change in the Star Trek characters, settings, or universe, such as introducing offspring or close relations of the characters other than those already in existence. Also no childhood or current sweethearts, although you can create temporary love interests. As with all series, the status quo must be restored at the end.
3. Any plot that hinges on or describes in detail sexual relations of any kind, especially between humans and aliens. We are not interested in books that suggest anything other than friendship among any of the Enterprise crewmembers.
4. No mixing of casts is allowed, which means no plots that mix the characters from one series with another. While we do intend to occasionally cross over between series this will always be handled very carefully in-house.
5. Traveling in time to change history or learn something, rescue someone, etc. Also, we are currently overstocked on alternate universe storylines.
6. For Deep Space Nine and Voyager, the books should stay current with the programs. Next Generation should, for the moment, be set between the end of the series and Star Trek: Generations, the first movie with the Next Generation cast.
7. No stories that turn out to have been a dream, a hoax, or a virtual reality sequence. We are also avoiding novels that start out with an action-packed opening that turns out to be taking place on the holodeck.
8. No “test” stories, i.e. stories where the Enterprise is tested by god-like beings studying humanity or judging our worth.
9. Avoid trying to definitively map out a character’s history beyond what has already been done in the movies or television episodes. When we do biographical books, we work very closely with Paramount and the writer. As a general rule, the best chance for a Star Trek submission by a first-time Star Trek writer is to submit a “traditional” Star Trek mission story that follows the Problem on Planet/Problem on Ship (or Station) formula. If you’ve been reading the novels, you know that we do take some chances and publish books that push the boundaries somewhat, but be advised that we approach these stories very carefully, working closely with experienced Star Trek writers and Paramount Pictures.
10. Do not introduce any levels of technology beyond what has been established in the television shows.

As you can see, a lot of these rules are pretty arbitrary at times and fairly stifling to creativity (not to mention that #3 is blatantly aimed at discouraging shippers). And frankly, it really shows as most of the more recent books are often fairly dull in comparison to some of the stuff published in the 70′s (”Child of Two Worlds” is probably the first exception in a long while where I actually enjoyed a Trek book published after 2000).

Maybe I’m just being optimistically naive, but perhaps the female Trek writers felt that these rules were just too constricting and would rather publish their writing in zines or online where they were free to use their imaginations without restraint. I think it is a stylistic tendency that a lot of female Trek writers (at least the ones I tend to read) tend to focus their stories on new possibilities, “what if?” scenarios, and/or complex emotional journeys, and this list tends to discourage nearly all such writings. A lot of male writers (at least nowadays) may be content with writing yet another story about Capt. So-and-So fighting a space battle/avoiding galactic war/saving a planet and so have less problems working around the guidelines.[17]
The irony in that is that most of the new pro Star Trek novels I’ve read have very definitely broken a number of those rules, including childhood sweethearts, the death of Amanda, the mentioned death of Kirk’s parents while he was fairly young (although they were very much alive in another pro novel from the same publishing year), and romantic relationships aplenty. Oh, plus a lot about Edith Keeler.
Tagged: #trying not to find it even more ironic that my original post about this only has about 15 notes #while this taken from my Facebook has over 100 #while also glad that at least it's getting out there[18]
…which is probably why I own so few of the newer books and so many of the old ones. And it’s why I’ll continue to focus on fanfic for my Star Trek reading pleasure.[19]
The current gender imbalance of Star Trek writers is clear, but evidence for the OP’s claims is less so. How does the OP know Pocket Books are ignoring female writers? How can the OP declare this is a strategy? Without solid information to back up these statements, they’re no more than unfounded conjecture.

Here’s one version of theStarTrek Novel submission guidelines - it’s far from current (MSs submitted on paper, no mention of the “Enterprise” series, much less the current movie reboot etc.) but it lays down the ground rules as I remember them from “The Romulan Way” and “Rules of Engagement”.

As the “Do’s and Don’ts” section makes clear, writing ST whether TOS, TNG, Voyager or whatever is a controlled environment. To a lot of writers that takes away the fun they have with unregulated fanfic, and “fame and the money” won’t compensate. (There’s not much of either, but you might well be invited as a travel-and-room-paid guest to ST cons…)

However, don’t look at the requirement for “agented MS only” and give up at once: getting an agent based on good-quality fanfic may be easier now than it used to be, they’re all looking for the next example of “Twilight is Grey”. The best way to find out is to look up some agents’ addresses and have a try.

This is where I give Yoda a dirty look. “Do or do not, there is no try” makes a good cod-philosophy quote, but not much else. Translate it to “Be published or not published, there is no asking advice from a professional” and it doesn’t seem such good advice.

Having a completed novel in hand despite the “three chapters and outline” process is a good move. Nothing encourages an agent like knowing their potential client can finish something as well as start it. Several finished somethings are even better.

The ability to rewrite following editorial advice is possibly best of all - once you’re dealing with agents and editors it’s not a writer’s workshop any more. They want to get the work into best possible shape so it’ll be accepted (the agent) or so lots of people will like it and buy it (the editor.) They’re on the writer’s side, even if some Big-Name writers don’t believe it."[20]
I think if the most important thing you can take from this post is the words ‘ignore’ and 'strategy’ you’re really missing the point. No, I didn’t do weeks of research into Pocket Books’ strategy for a tumblr post. But when the word is, or has been, that Star Trek publishers no longer accept unsolicited manuscripts, and when they appear to have a stable of regular TOS writers, almost all of whom are male, we need to ask why they’re apparently not soliciting - or at the very least not publishing - manuscripts from female writers too. I’m sure that they have strategies in place for their publication process, and at some point that strategy has resulted in only men being published.[21]
[meeedeee in response to petermorwood and aconitum-trek]:
Tagged: #gender bias, #if you only buy from agents you get smaller pool, #and a smaller pool can exaggerate existing biases, #unless you are aware of them and take steps to counteract, #affirmative action 101, #star trek, #women in science fiction[22]
[velvetsunset in response to petermorwood]:
Tagged: #current trek books are dull #I have stopped reading them #cut out the middle man and go straight to the fic

Notable Examples of Tie-ins

Further Reading/Meta







Not Dated


  1. Professional Writers vs. The People Who Love Their Work, Round Umpty-Snout, by thefourthvine, May 9, 2010
  2. Marnie S. from Media Fandom Oral History Project Interview with Kandy Fong and Marnie S
  3. BioWare Beg Fan Forgiveness on Bungled Mass Effect Novel, February 6, 2010, accessed February 23, 2012
  4. comment by fee folay at BOOK: STAR TREK: THE NEW VOYAGES; archive link, August 8, 2009
  5. Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  6. Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  7. comment in Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  8. reply to Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  9. comment in Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  10. comment in Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  11. reply to Facebook post: Star Trek TOS Pocket Books currently have no female authors. This needs changing, Archived version
  12. lotesseflower, Archived version
  13. throbbing light machine — meeedeee: lotesseflower: meeedeee: Read the..., Archived version
  14. aconitum-trek, Archived version
  15. defconprime, Archived version
  16. Frenzied Flitting From Topic To Topic, Archived version
  17. pepperpup86, Archived version
  18. aconitum-trek, Archived version
  19. Waiting For The Red Hour, Archived version
  20. Peter Morwood, Archived version
  21. aconitum-trek, Archived version
  22. aconitum-trek: petermorwood: jmathieson-fic:... - Fandom is my Fandom, Archived version