Posts Tagged ‘publishing’

The Guardian ponders Media Tie-in Writing

The Guardian has published an interesting short article about media tie-in novels, albeit one a bit narrow in its examination of the field. (It spends most of its ink on Star Wars, and the closest it gets to the Star Trek books is a hat-tip to John Scalzi‘s award-winning novel Redshirts, which is more a parody of Star Trek than a franchise novel. And while John offers some flattering remarks about the craft of tie-in writing, I wish article writer Damien Walter had actually interviewed some real, working media tie-in writers.

Sadly, the article’s reader comments comprise the usual disappointing melange — complaints that “franchise novels” are just “printed television,” or repetitions of the ignorant belief that one must have seen every episode and have read every previous novel in order to enjoy the newest books, or that franchise novels “bring nothing new or original” to the page.

I give the article’s author a polite hat-tip for trying to give media tie-in novels a fair shake, but I want to throttle some of his readers.

ETA: I received a tweet from the article’s author, Damien Walter, who explained that he normally does not interview people for “opinion” pieces, and that the only reason Mr. Scalzi is quoted is that Walter happened to discuss it with him while he was preparing the article.


All About Media Tie-in Writing

On Wednesday, February 26, 2014, I was part of a panel discussion and Q&A about the art and business of writing media tie-in fiction. The panel was hosted by Housing Works Books, an all-donation, volunteer-staffed, nonprofit bookstore and café whose proceeds all go to fight homelessness and AIDS.

Participating in the panel with me were fellow author extraordinaire Keith R.A. DeCandido and veteran fiction author Ginjer Buchanan. The panel was moderated by the inimitable Cici James of the Singularity & Co. bookstore in Brooklyn, NY.

For all of you who wanted to be there but couldn’t make it, or could have made it but didn’t, the fine folks at The Chronic Rift podcast have posted the unexpurgated audio of this rambling, hour-long verbal scrum.

Click here to listen to the recorded panel.



Media Tie-in Publishing Panel, Wed 2/26 @ 7pm

On Wednesday, February 26, I’ll be participating in an event about media tie-in publishing, as a part of GEEK WEEK at Housing Works Books. Here’s the low-down on the event:

Tied-in: The Ups and Downs and Ins and Outs of Writing Licensed Fiction

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 7:00pm–8:30pm

The bookshelves are full of fiction based on Star Trek and Star Wars and Halo and Batman and Doctor Who and tons more TV shows, movies, videogames, and comic books. Writing these books is a great deal of fun, but the life of a writer of media tie-in fiction is also full of pitfalls galore.

Join three tie-in veterans — New York Times best-selling author DAVID MACK (Star Trek, The 4400, Farscape, Wolverine), award-winning author KEITH R.A. DeCANDIDO (Star Trek, Doctor Who, World of Warcraft, Cars), and editor GINJER BUCHANAN (Star Wars, Conan, Leverage, Marvel Comics) — for an in-depth discussion moderated by Singularity & Co.‘s CICI JAMES.

This event is free and open to the public. Food, snacks, beer, and wine will be available for purchase from the in-store café. (Please don’t bring outside food or beverages to the store.)

Housing Works is an all-donation, volunteer-staffed, nonprofit bookstore; all of its proceeds go to fight homelessness and AIDS. It buys no books, so if you have any tomes you’d like to donate, bring them with you!


Digital copy editing

A short time ago, I received an e-mail from one of my editors informing me that my novella “The Stars Look Down,” for the anthology Star Trek Vanguard: Declassified, would be digitally copy-edited. At long last, Simon & Schuster’s production process had arrived in the 21st century.

No more stacks of paper with red penciled marks and queries on sticky notes taped to the back and folded over the right edge. No more frantic scribbling of “STET” or covering my dining table in eraser debris to expunge undesired changes. This was change for the better.

However, it was change, which (predictably) made me anxious.

Fortunately, once I acclimated to annotating the PDF file with my changes or STET notes, I realized how much I liked this new method. Suddenly, marking up a global change was easy: use the “search” function and find all instances of the word(s) to be changed, mark them, and move on. Inserting copy? Use the “add text” feature and just type it in above the line to be replaced, and then select the original line and select “strike through” to cross it out.

However, I’ve heard from other authors who either don’t like, or are technologically unable, to work with PDF files in this manner. (Apparently, the ability to annotate PDF files, which I took for granted while using Preview on my Mac Pro, is a feature native to Mac OS X, and is not easily replicated on non-Mac systems.) Some authors prefer to receive the edited MS Word file with “Track Changes” activated and make their corrections there, while rejecting the copy edits they wish to STET. I see the value in that system, though I have to admit that I find the “Track Changes” feature in Word both confusing and aggravating.

Regardless of which method I use on future projects, it feels like both progress and a loss of a great tradition. I remember being trained in paste-up layout as a teenager, and those were skills I used into my twenties, until desktop publishing and full digital pre-press made traditional paste-up layout obsolete.

Though I’ve often mocked the publishing industry for being “behind the times” with its devotion to hard copy manuscripts, pencil copy editing, manually entered corrections, etc., a part of me will miss this “hands on” feeling to writing and editing. There was a certain romance to the labor of sitting at a dining table, hunched over pages with a pencil and an eraser, studying the printed words on the page, and parsing the code of proofreader’s and copy editor’s notations.

As Billy Pilgrim said, “So it goes.” The industry marches into the future, and we writers have to follow. At least now we don’t have to carry all those pencils and Post-Its™.