Well, that's neither true nor fair. Before TWOK he was known for his best-selling Sherlock Holmes novel The Seven Per Cent Solution (whose film adaptation he wrote the screenplay for) and its sequel The West End Horror, and for directing the successful 1979 film Time After Time. He also wrote the 1975 TV movie The Night That Panicked America (a dramatization of the Orson Welles War of the Worlds broadcast) and directed the influential 1983 TV movie The Day After, both of which got him Emmy nominations. The Day After was the highest-rated made-for-TV movie in history up to that point (at least) and helped influence a lot of people's attitudes toward nuclear war. And Meyer was offered the job immediately after he finished production on TWOK, and thus before it was released, so it's doubtful that he got the job because of TWOK.
So if Meyer had never done Trek, he'd still be famous for his Holmes work, Time After Time, and The Day After if nothing else, and he'd still be the recipient of multiple Emmy nominations and an Oscar nomination. Indeed, "outside of Trekdom," I'm sure he's already more famous for those thing than he is for TWOK and TUC. Trek is a pretty minor part of his career, all told.
Of all those you mentioned, the only thing of any worth is Holmes book and even that is barely a blip on the radar. Cracking the NYT best sellers is a lot like landing on the Billboard Top 10: unless you get to number one or get there a more than once, everyone is going to completely forget about you within a couple of years. And all of his Holmes books (I think he wrote three?) have faded into obscurity. I wouldn't be surprised if Christopher Bennett was more widely recognized as a fiction writer than Nick Meyer, these days.
The TV films are meaningless as are the accompanying Emmys. Unless you win, no one cares. And even had he won, they're still TV movies.
Calling Time After Time
a "success" is a gross over-exaggeration. It made 13M. For comparison's sake, that same year, TMP took home nearly that much in one week. Outside of science fiction circles, hardly anyone has heard of it let alone seen it. That's not to say it isn't a good film. Personally, I think it's better than Khan
. But let's not make it out to be something it isn't.
On the other hand, TWOK (for better or worse) has managed to carve out its own little slice of pop culture pie. I'm sure this has more to do with the associated memes than the film itself, but it's still worthy a modest amount of recognition. Therefore, I have no doubt inquiring minds are redirected to his IMDB page via TWOK than they are Time After Time
Furthermore, if asked at random, most people aren't going to recognize his name. Those that do (at least those who can spell it
), are most likely going to remember him as: "The guy who directed that Star Trek
Even the two most successful films he's ever been involved with are hardly associated with him. His work on Prince of Egypt
was dubious at best--I was never clear as to what he did, exactly. And he co-wrote (One of four, I believe.) Sommersby
, which I didn't even know about until fairly recently. Everything else he's done has stayed completely beneath the beam.
50 years from now, his "legacy" (for lack of a better term) is going to be The Wrath of Khan
. That was evident by 1991, which brings us back to my initial point.