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Old September 9 2009, 05:46 PM   #44
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Re: *~Star Trek Books FAQ Latest Edition~*

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
Has anyone ever made a jump from inofficial fan fiction to published tie-in fiction? Creating characters, writing (fan) fiction stories for fun, putting them online, creating a new story with those characters, pitched it to Pocket Books, and succeeded?
I daresay most professional Trek authors have written some fan fiction at least for themselves. I think Una McCormack was fairly well-known for her fanfic before going pro.

But using fanfiction characters in a pitch for Pocket? Only if they're in the background. If you're a new writer pitching through the usual submission process, the requirement is to focus on the established cast.

But I wouldn't be surprised if some writers had incorporated their fanfic characters into their pro fiction. Writers tend to hold onto ideas and characters and find uses for them. I was never much into fanfic, but the Torvig and Chaka characters I created for Titan were based on characters and species I'd developed for my original SF universe but that had fallen by the wayside as my plans changed. My T'Ryssa Chen character from TNG: Greater Than the Sum was based on a character I created for a role-playing game.

In other words would it be a bad idea to put a story, or excerpt of it, online, see reactions and criticism, and then submit it to a publisher for consideration?
If by "story" you mean something shorter than novel length, that's something an editor would have to commission you to write rather than something you could pitch. Now that Strange New Worlds isn't around anymore, short Trek fiction only occurs in themed anthologies that originate with the editors.

But it doesn't clearly state that I can't properly submit something that was already online in some form.
I don't know about that. I think there's some precedent; I believe some of the SNW submissions were published in online forums for aspiring SNW writers, but I'm not certain.

And the submission guidelines are somehow irritating:

1.) No stories 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.
If you want to become a tie-in writer, you have to learn how to work within other people's guidelines and expectations instead of just doing what you want to do. The submission process is a test of your ability to follow instructions, to adapt to what's asked of you. If you get through that process and prove yourself, then later on you can gain the trust of your editor and have the opportunity to pitch the more experimental stories you want to tell.

The thing to remember is that what you're trying to sell is not the specific novel -- it's you. You're proving your ability as a writer, and that's more important than the specific story. Any story can be told well by a skilled writer, and having a good story idea won't matter if you're not good enough to pull it off.

6.) Stories should be set during a timeframe that has been thoroughly explored in the TV series or movies. That means no stories set before Star Trek: Enterprise; no stories set between Enterprise and The Original Series, and no stories set beyond Star Trek: Nemesis.
How can you tell a story about Picard, that is not set after Nemesis, when the novel series is already way past that time? Or are there still TNG novels being released that take place before Nemesis?
There is no restriction on when Star Trek novels can be set. Yes, there is an ongoing series of TNG novels set after Nemesis, but that doesn't preclude the existence of standalone TNG novels set before it. After all, we got novels like Hollow Men (set during DS9) and Terok Nor (set before DS9) in between novels set after the finale of DS9. We got the String Theory trilogy (set between seasons 4 and 5 of Voyager) after the fourth post-finale Voyager novel.

And again, it's not the specific story you're selling, it's you. The guidelines are a demo process. If you prove yourself by coming up with a good story that fits the guidelines, then you can earn the opportunity to do a wider range of stuff later.

JarodRussell wrote: View Post
So I wouldn't even submit my proper idea of the novel I'd like to get published, I would sort of submit a demo reel of my style and if I get the characters right and then wait for Pocket to give me a story?
Not necessarily. It's possible that if you pitch a good idea that fits the guidelines, they'll want you to write that. Or maybe not. But if your "dream story" is outside the guidelines, then yes, it's something you need to save for later.

But if your entire objective revolves around telling only one story, then the editors probably won't have much use for you. They're looking for people they can rely on, people they can work with on a continuing basis. Why invest their time and effort cultivating a new writer if they can only get one book out of him? And maybe not even the book they want?

It's important to be flexible, to have more than one arrow in your quiver. If you're writing fanfic for yourself, you can fixate on your own preferences, but if you want to work as a professional, you need to be able to adapt and compromise. But that doesn't mean you can't do the things you want to do -- you may just end up doing them in a different form than you imagined. You might end up doing some aspects of your "dream novel" in one book and other aspects in a different book. You may not get to do the Kirk subplot you imagined, but then find a later opportunity to do it as a Riker subplot. Every writer has a drawer full of ideas that didn't work out the first time but might someday find new life in a different form.
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