ViacomCBS Selling Simon & Schuster

Discussion in 'Trek Literature' started by CaptainXaviOfEarth, Mar 4, 2020.

  1. Allyn Gibson

    Allyn Gibson Vice Admiral Admiral

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    From one professional to, presumably, apparently, another, may I offer a piece of free advice? Stop and think before you post, because what you're posting can have profound professional implications. I believe that you believe what you're saying in true, and I believe that you appear to be in some position to know. If it is true -- I'm agnostic on this -- then you are sharing confidential information, however elliptically, that's not for public consumption yet and potentially violating NDAs, putting your career at risk. Is your excitement and the feeling of "I know something you don't" really worth losing a career over?

    I speak from experience. I deal with confidential pop culture information every day, things that aren't public for months, and sometimes I really want to geeble about it because it's really exciting stuff, but I also like having a job, particularly because I like to eat and have a roof over my head, so I keep my mouth shut and enter conversations only when I know I can talk about something. An innocuous conversation at a convention several years ago about a product already on the market and how I had one led to some professional blowback. You never know who's listening, and you never know who knows people.

    That's my free advice, one professional to another.

    I believe Marco left Tor two-ish years ago. He's working for an audio publisher on the Orphan Black audios and other projects.

    That's quite possible, and I was thinking about this very thing differently. Consider the Star Trek Little Golden Books. They're published by Random House, not Simon & Schuster. That's not a violation of S&S's exclusivity, as there's no reason why S&S would have bought the rights to publish that kind of book since it's not a kind of book they publish. The contract would spell out what kind of books S&S can publish, which series they can use, even down to which characters they can use. It doesn't make sense to buy the rights to kinds of books that they're never going to publish. The forthcoming animated shows, since they're going to be targeting a different audience and demographic than the books Gallery is putting out, may allow for CBS Licensing to pursue those different markets with deals since S&S doesn't hold the rights to products targeted at those markets. If so, then S&S's exclusivity may appear to someone who's unfamiliar with the contract language and rights bought that it's been "revoked" and "already gone," when the reality is that S&S never had rights to certain products to start with and Licensing is out there shopping them.
     
  2. CaptainXaviOfEarth

    CaptainXaviOfEarth Commander Red Shirt

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    What I openly talk about is not a secret and not protected by anything, and my career will be just fine. I've had a working relationship with Viacom Nickelodeon Consumer Products for 5+ years, and that's not changing. As I said, I know exactly what I can and can't say.

    There was one thing I mentioned that I wasn't meant to, but as they've now shown off the concept art at the New York Toy Fair*, it's fine. (Kirk, Spock, Uhura, etc. will be depicted in 'Star Trek Universe' merchandise on the Discovery-version of the Enterprise, in new look uniforms.)

    *To give you an indication of how bad the state of Star Trek merchandise is, there was a Star Trek stand at New York Toy Fair, and nobody covered it.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    As Allyn said, Marco works for SerialBox now.
     
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  4. David Weller

    David Weller Commander Red Shirt

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    Although he did edit Una McCormack’s novella Undefeated which Tor published last year.
     
  5. CaptainXaviOfEarth

    CaptainXaviOfEarth Commander Red Shirt

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    To be proactively part of the storytelling and design of Star Trek, to a degree that perhaps hasn't happened before.

    Like how this:

    [​IMG]

    had stuff like this:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Star Wars Rebels was the example given to me, as an explanation of how Nickelodeon is approaching merchandise. So of course that gets publishers and merchandisers excited.
     
  6. BillJ

    BillJ Former Democrat Premium Member

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    Why would it? Star Trek has always been a much more limited property versus Star Wars when it comes to interest in the novels/comics. Much like Trek in cinema, there is clearly a top end where interest is concerned.

    Or is this going to be a replay of Marvel in the 90’s? Where someone way overpays for the brand and ends up leaving it in worse shape than they found it?

    Anyways, there will be Trek books with possibly a different logo on the spine. Doesn’t change my world in any way. Someone wake me when they gear up and commit the resources to do a Triple-A video game.
     
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  7. JJMiller

    JJMiller Writer Red Shirt

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    Now that this has wandered into my wheelhouse...

    I did work with the LFL Story Group (and was the first author to do so) on the above Rebels novel, which they considered canonical* at the time and still do; no narrative events have arisen to conflict with it, in any event. I did so in consultation with the producers of the TV show and with significant access, and basically everything was an introduction to the show, which did not debut for another month after the release of the book. (That fact was somewhat to the title's detriment in the early going, as only the informed fans knew who the book was about — but it has remained a staple in the line since.) It's all part of the same ecosystem: the Kanan series there is written by one of the TV show's executive producers and includes a villain I introduced; she never appeared in the cartoon, but it wouldn't have surprised me if she had, had the series gone longer.

    That said... I have received substantial studio input on my two Discovery novels, and the approach and thinking have been similar from my point of view. I add no detail without the consideration that it might be used elsewhere, the same way Kayla Detmer's first name made it into the TV show. The conduits exist already and are open more than they've ever been before -- at least in my experience with this property.

    (*The fact that some continuity conflicts do arise in the course of business despite best efforts is known and expected -- but most involved operate under the same governing principle, and that has a normative effect on our own works even when other inconsistencies arise.)
     
  8. Damian

    Damian Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think that goes for any franchise. You're always going to have some degree of inconsistencies. For all my own talk about how I like a tighter continuity--I recognize it'll never be perfect. Sometimes it can be as simple as a mistake.

    Yeah. I mean, first of all I'm taking all of this with a grain of salt. I'm pretty singularly focused with Star Trek tie in novels. I only read the novels. I don't read the comics and I don't play the online games. So with apologies to fans of those tie ins I just don't follow what's going on there. Honestly I have to look up who the comic publisher even is. To the chagrin of my fellow posters here I though Superman, Batman and Spiderman were all in the same family.

    The only question I have is does this sale affect the contract for the tie-in novels to the current live action series (including the prior spin offs like TNG, DS9, etc.)? I'd actually be surprised if Star Trek even factored into their thought processes to any significant degree at this point. S&S is huge and Star Trek is just one small part of that. Now, at the same time, as I noted there is a small, but reliable fan base built in that might make it attractive to potential buyers if they knew they had a tie in contract built in.

    But as Greg Cox noted, it's way too early to even speculate on that. I don't imagine we'll have answers to those questions at the very least until the sale is completed.

    If the contract with S&S is nullified then that adds a whole new slew of questions. Who gets the contract then? What happens to the novels? How many do they release a year? Tied to which series? Are our authors carried a long to the new publisher (I honestly don't know if our Star Trek authors are tied with the publisher or the franchise--or maybe it doesn't matter)? But there's just no way to know.

    I'll admit, I have mild concerns about how this might affect future novels. But without more information I just can't get too worked up about it.
     
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  9. BillJ

    BillJ Former Democrat Premium Member

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    It feels as though, whatever is going to happen to the Trek license, won't be seen by us for a couple of years. So I'm going back to sleep.
     
  10. BillJ

    BillJ Former Democrat Premium Member

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    A question for the professionals in the room...

    I remember at one point an author (possibly @Greg Cox) said most tie-in fiction was read by roughly two percent of a shows viewers. Does the CANON!!! banner that seems to be everywhere right now and attached to everything, actually appreciably increase book/comic sales?
     
  11. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    off topic, but has anyone ever published the Gold key years in one bound collection? I'd buy it.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Former Democrat Premium Member

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    They've been releasing them in TPB. Six issues per book, IIRC.
     
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  13. XCV330

    XCV330 Premium Member

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    thanks
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    No reason it should. As we've said, there are multiple other Trek tie-in licensees that aren't owned by CBS, like IDW, Cryptic, Modiphius, and Titan. And the current contract should last as long as it was slated to last. Anything beyond that is reckless speculation.


    Not a single volume, since 61 comics would make for a damned thick book, but there have been several multi-volume collections:

    https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Star_Trek_(Whitman)#Collections
     
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  15. David Weller

    David Weller Commander Red Shirt

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    The previous time the license came up for renewal (not 2017/2018 but the time before) Titan put in a bid. I’ve spoken to the person who would have edited the line. He told me he would have gone with the same authors.

    And why would any publisher not? They’re tried and tested.
     
  16. Damian

    Damian Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Good to know. At first I was sort of ignoring this CaptainXavi, but he seems pretty insistent that the current contract with S&S is basically null and void (at least that's the gist I'm getting).

    Like @BillJ, I'm not as concerned with the publishing company of the books (though I have nothing against S&S--as a reader they seem like ok folks there). I just don't want to lose any of our writers basically and I'd like to see the novels continue and even expand some more, maybe back to 12/year. If they want to add more writers I'm good with that certainly (including more minority writers as we discussed in another thread). But I'd like to keep you guys around as well.

    Honestly as a fan and a reader, I don't even follow all the background stuff a whole lot, except in how it affects future products (for instance when we had the book exile back in 2018). The legalities of it all aren't really for me as a fan to worry about. As long as the shows are good and the books are enjoyable, that's what counts for me. Though I'm certainly not minimizing concerns people that are affected may have.
     
  17. JJMiller

    JJMiller Writer Red Shirt

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    There are so many other factors involved it's very hard to draw straight comparisons. The Story Group era Star Wars comics far outsell those before them, but a huge part of that comes from the house effect. The average Marvel comic well outsells the average comic book from anyone else (as will be observed by anyone looking for long at my historical research site).

    That said, the goal of synergy is a much larger one: promoting the brand, and by extension creating new opportunities for products across the board. There are video game novels and comics whose readerships are almost exclusively made up of players of the games, and in many cases those are the ONLY novels and comics those readers buy. Their interest is solely in the shared universe, and so it makes sense for the various pieces of the property to work together as much as possible.
     
  18. iarann

    iarann Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I highly doubt the current contract is "null and void" considering there one of the novels just started shipping out to stores this past week or so. I would expect if the contract was cancelled or broken recently it would have had some sort of effect on that release and the others in the pipeline.

    I can certainly believe the studio access is greatly increasing for tie-in authors. That seems very clear with the Discovery and Picard novels and not exactly new information. I also completely understand a desire to better tie-in those releases together, organizing them so they release together as part of a larger push to promote a series, though I think it would depend on the series they are doing that with.

    I just don't see anything that suggests there will be multiple companies releasing adult novels simultaneously, and I can't even think of a modern license that does that. The example given with Rebels seems odd considering Star Wars does has those same kinds of contracts regarding exclusivity as Star Trek, with Del Rey having the license rights for the adult novels, Marvel for the adult comics, etc.
     
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  19. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    In general, we're not "tied" to either. We're freelancers, often juggling more than one project or client or franchise at a time. Any contracts we have are with a publisher for specific projects. For example, I may sign a contract to write one or more TOS book for S&S by certain deadlines. But there are no guarantees beyond that.

    If, hypothetically, the license eventually ended up elsewhere, I'd like to think that they would consider hiring me to write some more Trek books, but it's also possibly that a new editor at a new publisher would want to use new writers . . . or not.

    That's just how it works.

    I made the mistake, decades ago, of assuming that I was a lock to write the ELEKTRA novelization because I'd novelized DAREDEVIL, but the books rights to that movie ended up going to a different editor at a different publisher who hired somebody else instead . . . as they were perfectly entitled to do. I then had to scramble to line up another gig to replace the ELEKTRA job I had been counting on.

    Learned my lesson there. When you're a freelancer, you never take any job for granted. :)
     
  20. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Whereas those of us who post under our real names are saying that's implausible. The most generous interpretation is that this person is a Nickelodeon employee who only knows the Nick side of the equation and is making incorrect assumptions about how things work elsewhere. I think Allyn gave a good explanation above. If Nick has gotten the rights to young adult Trek novels to tie in with the animated show, say, that wouldn't be a change in Pocket/Gallery's license, because we never did the YA stuff in the first place (the Kelvin YA books were from a different S&S division, Simon Spotlight).


    It probably wouldn't have any effect for at least a year. Remember, there were still a number of Pocket Trek novels coming out during the long delay in license renewal, because the end of the license didn't erase any commitments that had already been made; it just precluded any new books from being acquired. Ditto for Bantam continuing to put out its Trek novels for two years after it lost the license to Pocket. So even in the purely hypothetical case that something had changed with the license right now (which of course it hasn't because, as Greg said, we're talking about a sale that hasn't even happened yet), all the books that were already slated to come out would still come out, even if it's a year or more from now.
     
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