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Synonyms: tie-in novel, authorized sequel, sequels, pro novel, Profic
See also: adaptation, bookverse, comicsverse, Fannish Tie-in, movieverse, novelization, Star Trek Tie-in Novels
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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.

Tie-in novels have been the subject of widespread discussion in fandom as to whether or not they constitute professional fanfiction - particularly as many tie-in authors got their start writing fanfic. Star Trek tie-ins are one of example of that.

The acceptance of tie-ins among fans also varies from fandom to fandom, as their quality and adherence to canon can vary wildly. The acceptance of tie-ins can also very among TPTB; see George Lucas' rejection of prior authorized works.

Tie-ins are not to be confused with adaptations which are the translation of the same story from one medium to another (e.g. comic book to film) in a way that may or may not be faithful to the source; or novelizations, which translate a film, video game, TV series or similar into a novel form without significantly deviating from its plot.

An authorized sequel is a tie-in work written with the consent of the author or their estate while a fannish tie-in is a tie-in produced by a fan.


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.

Star Trek

See Star Trek Tie-in Novels.

See Pocket Book's Star Trek Pro Novel Guidelines (1985).

See Pocket Book's Star Trek Pro Novel Guidelines (1995).

Pocket Books "Star Trek" Guidelines (1995)

John Ordove [sic] herer [sic], Star Trek Novels Editor for Pocket Books. I am posting our Star Trek Novel Guidelines here per request. Once again, i do not read the posts here, so any questions should be directed to me at [email protected]. Please feel free to distribute these guidelines on the nets.


Submission Guidelines:

Due to the overwhelming number of submissions that we receive, Pocket Books can only accept requested, agented manuscripts. Unsolicited manuscripts will be returned immediately by our support staff. A comprehensive list of agents can be found in a book called THE LITERARY MARKETPLACE, available in the reference section of any library. Ethical considerations prevent us from recommending individual agents, so please do not ask.

FORMAT: All manuscripts MUST be submitted typed, double-spaced, on one side of non-corrasable [sic] typing paper.

The page number and your name MUST be at the top of each page. Your full name and address should appear on the first and last page of the manuscript (yes, include your phone number).

PROCEDURE: Submit the first three chapters with a detailed synopsis (eight to twelve pages) of the entire plot.

Due to the large volume of submissions we receive, our reply can take anywhere from one to four months...so please be patient. If we're interested in publishing your novel, we'll contact your agent with an offer. We may ask for revisions, and may also ask to see the completed novel before reaching a decision.

CONTENTS: In a one-sentence description, we're looking for exciting science fiction stories featuring the STAR TREK characters. This means that something should be at stake, something other than the internal emotional problems of the crew. The optimum choice would be a problem that must be resolved quickly, solved in a race against time, that would have horrible consequence if the crew fails.

The majority of the books we publish are the regular STAR TREK, STAR TREK: TNG, and STAR TREK: DS9 paperbacks. These are adventure novels of roughly 70,000 words (about 275-325 pages). We also have a line of hardcovers, but these are a tougher sell. We usually work very closely with experienced STAR TREK authors to create the hardcover stories which are larger in scope than the regular novels.

We cannot use short stories, poetry, biographies, romances, encyclopedias, dictionaries, concordances, compendiums, blueprints, satiric novels, photo novels or trivia books. We publish these kinds of books very carefully and most often hire people affiliated with the STAR TREK shows and/or movies to write them.

APPROVALS: All material is subject to the approval of Paramount Pictures, which owns all copyright to STAR TREK in its various incarnations and is very concerned about maintaining the integrity of the characters and the Star Trek universe.

To that end, we make a serious effort to see that the books line up with the episodes and films, though we recognize that absolute consistency is a practical impossibility. We now have some "official" reference guides that may be helpful. These titles should be available in all bookstores and many libraries. They include: THE STAR TREK COMPENDIUM, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION TECHNICAL MANUAL, STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION COMPANION, THE STAR TREK CHRONOLOGY, and THE STAR TREK ENCYCLOPEDIA. The best reference, of course, are the STAR TREK episodes and films.

Do's 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 be primarily 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 established 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 human 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 occassionally [sic] 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.

A Word About Style:

The major thing the books have to offer that the television shows do not is an internal point of view, revealing the inner thoughts, feelings and reactions of the characters. Therefore STAR TREK books must adhere to strict point of view with scene breaks to denote any POV shifts. We are not interested in external or "camera eye" prose. We are also not interested in first person books.

The best style guides for your STAR TREK proposals are, of course, the recently published STAR TREK novels.


Good luck with your writing.

The Editors [1] [2]

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... [3]

Discussions & Views

Are Tie-ins 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. [4]

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.

Acceptance of Pro Novels in Different Fandoms

Tie-ins rarely develop followings in fandom as powerful as their source materials do. Supernatural tie-ins, for example, 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). Similarly, the Serenity comic series that was published from 2005 to 2017 (authorized, and in part co-written, by Joss Whedon) is seen as a canonical extension of the Firefly universe after the TV show itself was cancelled - in this way, tie-ins can be a useful means of extending a universe beyond its original form.

Opinions on Quality


A fan in Universal Translator (February 1983) commented 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 earlier issues of theStar Wars letterzine Southern Enclave (1983-2000) contain 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.


In a 1989 letterzine, a fan wrote of her disgust of a Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea tie-in novel titled "City Under the Sea":

This is a simply awful book! The plot stinks, the characterisation is non-existent and out of character for the series, and if I'd submitted it to an editor, the red pen would have run out before I reached Chapter Two. All of which just goes to prove that fans are far more critical than professional book outlets — which we all knew anyway, right? Regarding the plot, it might just about fit into fourth season VOYAGE, but the description of the sub is first season, before the Network really got their destructive little paws on the series. [

[much snipped]

This book reminds me of the very worst type of 'pulp' science fiction, and if it weren't for the VOYAGE name, I wouldn't bother to give it shelf space. But then, of course, the publishers know that, don't they? If something will sell because it has a name attached, then why bother making it worth buying? Their profit is assured. Maybe if more people complained louder, things might improve. And porcines might take to the air... [5]


From a 1995 discussion:

I treat the novels as I do fan fiction. Some I like better than others; but I'm not any more critical than I would be to any writer of any story I'd read in a fanzine. I've been reading fanfic too long to expect everyone to share my perceptions and interpretations, so I don't get bent out of shape when someone's viewpoint/vision differs from mine. I just dismiss it, stop reading, whatever. It amazes me how heated the debates can get, though. Over in X-Files fandom on Internet, the author of the first two XF pro novels was just raked over the coals by a certain group of vocal fans, and word is that the author's third novel-already written-has been axed because of the negative fan reaction and now Kevin J.Anderson is the new writer. I've read much, much worse fan fiction than these novels and undoubtedly so has everyone of those folks who blasted that author; but apparently the same rules don't apply for some people, and no matter who writes the novels there will always be someone who doesn't like the novel for whatever reason, and chances are they are going to be vocal about it. They're certainly entitled to their opinion, but it should not be seen as indicative of the entire fandom. As Melanie and Lorrie pointed out, it should never be used as a gauge for the measure of a 'true SW fan. (And besides, isn't 'bad fiction' one of our greatest motivators for writing our own fan fiction? So it does serve a purpose, even the times we don't enjoy reading it.) "Professional" writer means only that they have been published, not that they're necessarily any better suited to write a SW story than any of us. To expect more is to be overly optimistic,I think. So until the day comes that George Lucas himself pens a new SW novel, I'll just be grateful that there are new SW novels being released every few months. Just as I looked forward to new fanzines as recently as 5 years ago when that was the only SW reading material in town, I'll like some and dislike others, but mainly I'll just be glad that the selection continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

No one is going to like everything. We disagree,however,with the theory that professional writers are not necessarily better suited than amateurs to write SW. .Making money at anything brings with it higher expectations of quality.A professional ANYTHING is supposed to better than an amateur but,no, they aren't always. No one will ever make us believe that, in any other aspect of life, human beings do not expect more from the experienced professional in ANY field than the amateur. AS for George penning a new novel himself-that would be something to see. Wonder how much Brian Daley will charge to ghostwrite another one like "Star Wars"?
People who do not like the pro SW novels , obviously, are only a small minority of those who bought them. In the case of the XF author, obviously the publishing company took the 'certain group of vocal fans' as an indication of public receptivity and - with the possibility of financial loss looming - they 'axed' the novel. That's good business. After all, who are writers and publishers trying to please if not the public? Would that the criticisms of SW fans carried ha If as much weight with the 'pro's"! Still, lest we seem too negative,we must admit the odds are on the side of those like us who are waiting for something 'good' to come from the pro's. Just because ten or so different writers have yet to give us as many distinctly different looks at SW, doesn't mean an individual won't someday depart from "Team Zahn". One more thing...'pro' novels are-in our opinions- about as far from fan fiction as one can get. How many of us would be buying zines if we KNEW that every story connected up to ONE writer's POV of the SW universe. It's the INDIVIDUALISM AND DIVERSITY that make SW fan fiction far different from the 'pro' novels we have seen so far. That is our biggest problem with the SW pro novel's-not just that they follow a formula but that they are confined to one at all. [6]


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.

Also 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.

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." [7]


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.[8]

Notable Fandoms and Tie-in Works

Further Reading/Meta



  • Ten Thousand, All in Advance... Pro Novel News & Reviews (1994)







Not Dated