So you're commissioned to write an actual Star Trek book...
Just a little conversation starter for a quiet Sunday evening:
...the incredible happens, and you're PM inbox flashes red with a message from an editor at Pocket Books who tells you that they've been monitoring your fan fiction writing and invites you to pitch a standalone Star Trek novel set within the confines of series continuity - that is TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY and ENT using existing characters who need to end the novel the same way they started it.
I'm sure most of us have read the old submission guidelines at one point or another but I've included them below. ENT isn't mentioned since these come from before 2001 but you get the basic idea - the novels need to be set within the series and you can't kill people off or make massive changes to the characters or universe.
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 consequences if the crew fails.
The majority of the books we publish are the regular Star Trek, Star Trek: TNG, Star Trek: DS9, and Star Trek: Voyager 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.
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.
DOs and DON'Ts
There are a number of plots that we would specifically like to avoid:
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.
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.
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.
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.
Traveling in time to change history or learn something, rescue someone, etc. Also, we are currently overstocked on alternate universe storylines.
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.
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.
No "test" stories, i.e. stories where the Enterprise is tested by god-like beings studying humanity or judging our worth.
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.
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.
That's it. Thank you for your interest in Star Trek, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. Good luck with your writing.
So assuming my original unlikely/impossible scenario was to occur and you were invited to pitch a novel, which series would you chose and what do you think your story would be about?