Star Trek Author's black list?

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by shanejayell, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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  2. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    I doubt there's anything as melodramatic as a blacklist. Preferences, yes, but not some sort of 1950s style thing
     
  3. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Well, it's interesting to wonder. There are some pretty prolific Trek authors who seem to no longer be writing for Trek.
     
  4. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    David is correct in that the thread title is way too melodramatic. Editors have authors they prefer to work with, and when editors leave, their replacements -- or the people who take over their workloads -- won't necessarily still want to work with the same people. When Marco Palmieri was laid off at the end of 2008, the folks who took over from him didn't have much interest in working with me, which is why I haven't had a new Trek novel since A Singular Destiny. This has happened before and will happen again.
     
  5. Mage

    Mage Commodore Commodore

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    Now, I don't get that. I mean, 'didn't have much interest in working with you'. It should be quite clear that your novels sell, people love them!! Seems like bad business, cutting of a part of your franchise that sells.
     
  6. Fer

    Fer Commander Red Shirt

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    It works that way in any business, though. People in charge tend to surround themselves with people they know they can work well with, because it makes the process go smoother and helps them ensure things will be done correctly. It's not a deliberate slight on the people left out; it's just doing the job the way you know how.

    Peter David would seem to be an author the current editor(s) aren't interested in currently using either. He seems to be getting the same treatment of not being told he won't be used again, but not getting any work either. (Unless he's revealed to be one of the five authors working on The Fall, that is.)

    It seems to me that the current editor(s) are more interested in pursuing the TV franchises than the original TrekLit franchises. The Typhon Pact series is pretty much TNG and DS9. We get the Aventine, but never starring in a book of its own. New Frontier seems unlikely to get another book at this point, and SCE, Gorkon and Stargazer have all ended their runs. We've still got Titan of course, but since that follows Riker and Troi it's more of a direct extension of TNG than any of the other TrekLit series were.

    And to a certain extent, it makes sense-- part of the appeal of those lines were that with original crews, you could do things with them that you couldn't do with the TV characters, such as have them get married, have children, die, have their home worlds destroyed, etc. Now they can do the same thing in the Prime universe, so the "need" for those "TrekLit original" lines isn't as strong as it once was. Still, I grew rather fond of a lot of those characters (not to mention their authors).
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2012
  7. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Okay, here's the dirty little secret of the tie-in business:

    It doesn't matter who writes the books.

    I mean, it matters to some degree, in the sense that someone who doesn't know the franchise shouldn't write the books (Greg Cox and I can tell horror stories about the hiring of two writers who obviously did not know Farscape to write Farscape novels, to give one example), but not to the same extent as it would in non-tie-in fiction. Putting Picard or Spock on the cover is a decision that is far more likely to drive sales than the byline. The sales on my books are all over the map -- the Klingon books didn't sell so hot (the first two did okay, the third horribly, the fourth okay), all my TNG books sold really well (especially A Time for War, a Time for Peace, which made the USA Today bestseller list), Articles of the Federation was mediocre, but A Singular Destiny sold decently (riding the Destiny trilogy's coattails, no doubt).

    For that matter, Tales of the Dominion War continues to sell well, but Tales from the Captain's Table hasn't performed as well. *shrug*

    To folks on this board -- which is, unfortunately, a statistically irrelevant sample of the overall readership -- it matters a great deal. But to the readership at large, their decision is far more likely to be based on whether or not it's a TNG adventure versus a DS9 adventure, or some other plot/character-based criterion.

    Having been a tie-in editor, it's better for everyone if the editor works with an author they're comfortable working with. For whatever reason, while I was lucky enough to work well with two previous editors, the current editorial regime aren't comfortable working with me. That's their perogative.
     
  8. Lonemagpie

    Lonemagpie Writer Admiral

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    Though what tends to bug me is when you're out but they won't just be up front and say so, to prevent wasting everybody's time...

    That's always the issue I have.
     
  9. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Yeah, I've read some awful tie in fiction, so I'd argue the author does matter actually. Thankfully Trek has mostly avoided that.

    Speaking personally I DO shop as much based off the author as anything else. Just slapping 'Star Trek' on a book will not ensure I buy it.
     
  10. 8of5

    8of5 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think you might be missing KRADS point though. You might be so discerning, but sales figures would apparently say something else. It's no coincidence that we constantly get Kirk, Spock, and Picard on book covers, even if they are relatively minor characters in any given book. It's the brand recognition that sells tie-in fiction to most people. So there wouldn't have been much point say, putting T'Ryssa Chen on the cover of The Struggle Within, because no one will recognise her - It's shooting yourself in your marketing foot.

    Sure some authors make a difference, see the Laurell K Hamilton reprint a couple of years ago, or the Shatner books. But for the most part its the name Star Trek that drives the sale.

    Heck, I'm guilty of it; I've bought recent Titan and Enterprise novels because I enjoy the series, and want to support the brand. Most definitely not because of the authorship!

    The counter argument I suppose is that the brand recognition suffers if it is associated with a low quality product. But that's not really the case with Star Trek prose now is it? As much as I really want KRAD back in the club, I'm also really happy with almost all the current crop of regular authors.
     
  11. shanejayell

    shanejayell Captain Captain

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    Actually I have NOT bought the latest Titans or Enterprises because of authorship, so.... it has a effect. Heck, hire KRAD to do Titan. At least it'd have better characterization. :rommie:
     
  12. KRAD

    KRAD Keith R.A. DeCandido Admiral

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    Put it this way -- if the byline was really that important, Dragon Precinct would have sold as well as my Trek novels. It didn't. Dave's The Calling should've sold in the same numbers as his Vanguard novels. It didn't.

    If you guys like my writing -- or David's writing or Greg's writing or Christopher's writing or Dave's writing -- then prove it by supporting our original stuff. (You can order my work directly from my web site.)
     
  13. Relayer1

    Relayer1 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I'd say our best bet was regime change at S & S then.

    Problem is, you don't know who might fall out of favour with the new management...
     
  14. Nerys Ghemor

    Nerys Ghemor Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Sometimes the byline IS very important. Diane Duane's Trek works got me into her original stuff, and by now I've amassed a fairly large collection. The author's work has to grab me and be very distinctive for that to happen--and unfortunately I think the early years of Treklit were much more conducive to that, than later, since far more latitude was given to the authors to write what they wanted (and the comparative lack of official canon made this a very reasonable approach).

    Look at how (IMHO) Intellivore suffered compared to earlier Duane works in Treklit such as The Wounded Sky. The restrictions on the numbered novels at that time definitely did not work in her favor. And while I think Duane relates better to the TOS characters than the TNG ones, as a rule, Dark Mirror proves she COULD do well with those characters when given the latitude to write the sort of strong, distinctive story that favors her talents.

    (As far as Peter David...while I've checked out of official Treklit in general, I'd say he's had it coming for a long time. I want to read a novel, not a comic book and/or Monty Python spoof of Trek.)
     
  15. Fer

    Fer Commander Red Shirt

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    And that's a great thing, supporting your favorite Trek authors with their non-Trek stuff is definitely the thing to do. I've done it with both KRAD and PAD as well.

    However we are still a minority inside a minority inside a minority. Your average consumer only watches Star Trek occasionally. That's the majority. Of that is the minority which is dedicated to Star Trek and watches every episode and movie. Out of that is the minority that buys Star Trek novels. And out of that is the minority that follows specific writers in both their Trek and non-Trek writings.

    That's why KRAD's saying the author doesn't matter of a tie-in novel; it's all about grabbing that non-regular reader in the consumer majority. That's the way to expand your sales beyond the minority fanbase and have a big success.
     
  16. ATimson

    ATimson Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Neither of those were the same genre, though. In my personal experience, just because I like an author's SF doesn't mean I'm likely to like their fantasy (in fact, I'd say more often than not I don't).

    Now, personally I didn't let that stop me from picking up Dragon Precinct or The Calling or The Last World War by Dayton Ward - but I only have/would pick up sequels to one of those three.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Rather, it's about the difference between the individual and the aggregate. He's not saying the author doesn't matter to any individual buyer, because he's not talking about buying decisions on an individual level. He's talking about the overall sales figures and profits seen by the publisher. When it comes to those figures, who's writing a Trek novel has much less impact on the sales and profits than what series or characters are featured in the novel.
     
  18. tomswift2002

    tomswift2002 Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I was just looking at Reunion recently, Michael Jan Friedman's 1991 book, and noticing how Picard is very much front and center, but then there are two other people, who we have never seen before, on the cover. But then I've also seen on other Trek books from that era covers where there is a main character (like Tasha on Survivors), but then there is another character from the story that we've never seen, but they are on the cover. It would be nice if some of the newer covers featured the characters like that---have a main series character (Crusher, Dax, Torres), and then have another main character who we have never seen on the cover somewhere else as well. (Another thing with those early-90's covers I tend to prefer is that they depicted a scene in the story and were painted, with odd novelization cover having a photo or photo-montage on it; the recent Photoshop covers just seem so bland and repetitive and really don't connect to me like the older hand-painted covers.)

    But as for Trek having some authors who really didn't know what they were writing about, I think it would be safe to put Robert Shelley at the top of that list. I've never read another of his books, but after reading The Laertian Gamble, I'm not too sure if I want to track down another of his books, even though he's apparently some sci-fi giant. So, I think that the styles of the authors in tie-in fiction, and who those author's are, does matter, since there are some people where they will only get introduced to that author's style of writing and name through tie-in media like the Trek books.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    His name was Robert Sheckley, and yes, he was one of the greats of SF since before Star Trek existed. His work was generally comical and absurdist, and I think some readers mistake his surreal, absurd take on DS9 in The Laertian Gamble for ignorance or incompetence. That said, I doubt it was one of his better works.
     
  20. Biffette

    Biffette Captain Captain

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    Don't forget, Andy Mangels is one of the casualties of the editorial staff change as well.