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Tie-In Novels

July 16, 2009

Tie-In novels are not to be mixed up with movies/TV based on novels. They are books written based on movies, TV shows, comic books and even RPG games. These books can be either a novelization of a script or an original novel. This type of writing falls in a similar category as ghostwriting.

Many authors write tie-ins to supplement their income though there are some who build their entire careers in this field. This is a “work for hire” field. Writers are paid a flat fee and royalties are rarely included. Payment for tie-in books depend on several factors: the popularity of the movie/TV show, your background and book sales history, the difficulty of the project and whether it is novelization of a script or an original novel.

I own only one tie-in novel. I use to be a big fan of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series. I don’t know how many were written for the series but I own the first book written called The Harvest. I have yet to even read this book. It sits on a shelf collecting dust at the moment, but I am curious. How many of you own tie-in novels? Do you think they accurately represents your favorite movies, TV shows, etc? What is your favorite tie-in novel(s)? Would you consider writing a tie-in novel?

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Andrea would consider writing a tie-in novel for say a TV show. Some could use a bit more imagination brought to a familiar setting.
  1. July 16, 2009 1:53 am

    I’m actually working on a novelization for a playwright friend’s script. I find the adaptation process a lot easier than adapting a novel into a play or screenplay.

  2. dan permalink
    July 16, 2009 4:29 am

    I’ve read a couple of tie-in novels to videogames. The superb scifi RPG Mass Effect had a tie-in prequel novel released prior to the game. It was actually a reall decent read and a brilliant primer for the game universe, while also providing a deep backstory that folks who just bought the game will not have been privy to. Halo: Fall of Reach is another good prequel tie-in to a videogame.

    The quality of these things really depend on the writer involved. What is interesting is that both those videogame tie-in novels were far better than any videogame movie I have seen.

  3. July 16, 2009 5:27 am

    I’d consider some tie-in writing, but I think I could only do it for a programme that I really like. And as I don’t watch that much TV, then it would probably not amount to much.

  4. July 16, 2009 10:07 am

    I have the novelization for the first Men in Black movie, mostly because it was written by a friend of mine. I’d write a novelization if the pay seemed worth the time– unless it was really objectionable, say, the tie-in novel for _Triumph_of_the_Will_ 🙂

  5. July 16, 2009 3:58 pm

    I would totally write a tie-in novel if the pay was right and the project was something I believed in. I have a whole bunch of the Star Wars tie-ins. They do a pretty good job of extending the cannon of the movies without changing things too drastically.

    I have not read or even seen any of the “Buffy” tie-ins, but I absolutely loved the show and could see myself getting into them.

    I’d also see tie-ins to “Firefly” as a great place to go. I think that if I were to do one, it might be for Firefly.

  6. July 16, 2009 7:08 pm

    I don’t have any. They kind of seem like a cop-out to me, just written to make money from the popularity of the other medium.

  7. July 17, 2009 8:38 pm

    I don’t have any but I have been to a workshop on World Building by Sonny Whitelaw who write both books and scripts for the Stargate Series.

    I’m a purist in some respects – books should almost always remain as books, and TV shows and games should keep to their mediums also. It is almost as bad as cross overs from games into movies.

  8. dan permalink
    July 18, 2009 1:45 am

    Ah, but without stories crossing over into other media we wouldn’t have The Godfather, The Dark Knight, No Country For Old Men and any number of superb adaptations. That said, game movies are indeed a bucket of fail – though I have to admit to taking a guilty pleasure in watching the Resident Evil movies. Yes I know they are rubbish but I have such a history with Resi that I can’t help but love them for the errant, dysfunctional children they are.

  9. Allegro permalink
    July 18, 2009 3:06 am

    I have only ever had two tie-in novels in my possession, one of the Charmed franchise and one of the Buffy franchise [also an old Buffy fan, =P]. However, I really don’t think these qualify me to assess the tie-in very fairly, as they were both very odd-ball in their plots. The Charmed one veered off the usual track and injected a cliched Native American losing the land plot with a shapeshifter and the Buffy one dealt with possession by Japanese gods of two scoobies, XD.

    This topic forcefully reminds me of fanfiction, though. I know that (to be technical) fanfiction isn’t canon or considered part of the franchise, but it accomplishes the same end. They both expand on the world they choose to imitate, and in some cases, this may be the only way for fans to find continued satisfaction with certain series of any medium. I think that this is a good thing, as it gives the reader a chance to return to something they truly enjoyed.

    When I was younger, I would read Harry Potter fanfiction to sate my appetite between volumes. Not all of them were good, but some really shone through the mire of the rest. It accomplished its purpose, which was to let me run around in the world I adored as a preteen. As well, it takes a lot of practice to become a good writer, and fanfiction and tie-ins allow writers to practice their skills as well as giving them practice in keeping within the bounds of an established world (great when contemplating writing a series).

    As for me, I would probably not consider writing a tie-in unless the financial gain was sufficiently tempting, but this is more because I’m always so busy writing my own fiction.

    And, I will stop rambling now, eh-hehe…

  10. July 19, 2009 3:37 am

    Agreed Dan – I did say “almost always” and grateful for some awesome adaptations. It is just sad so many of them a trash.

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