Tied In Knots: Writing Tie-in Fiction by Bobby Nash
Let’s welcome back monthly columnist Bobby Nash as he shares with us “Tied In Knots: Writing Tie-in Fiction.” Enjoy!
Beth and I had a conversation about writing media tie-ins recently. She asked that I share some information on what it’s like to work in this field.
As long as I’ve been a reader, tie-in fiction was a big part of my TBR file. So long ago in fact, I didn’t know what TBR or media tie-in meant.
What is a Media Tie-in?
Media tie-ins are stories based off of a property from another medium. Star Trek, Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Firefly, Doctor Who, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, and a lengthy list of properties fall under this umbrella and are translated and adapted into novels, short stories, comics, audio, and more.
I often hear comments saying that we’re just writing fan fiction.
While, in one respect, that’s true, the reality is that tie-ins are not fan fic.
Media tie-in projects are licensed from the IP (Intellectual Property) owner(s) to a publisher for use.
These licenses usually come with a character/series bible and a list of do’s and don’ts the writers have to follow.
This is where the difference between tie-in and fan fiction begins.
Fan Fiction vs. Tie-In Fiction
With fan fiction, you can write whatever you want, however you want, and anything can happen.
You’re doing it for fun. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
I’ve written fan fiction. Many writers start that way.
It allows us to practice our writing ability on a known entity. It’s a great place to grow your writing skill.
Licensed Media Tie-in’s
When working for a publisher, an author has to work within that publisher’s guidelines.
There are some universal guidelines, but each publisher has their own guidelines.
Professional writers work within those lines.
With a media tie-in property, you also have to work within the license holder’s guidelines.
As the owner/custodian of the IP, part of their responsibility is to protect the property.
For example, all Star Wars novels, comics, games, etc. have to be approved by Lucasfilm before going to press.
Likewise Paramount/CBS approves all media tie-ins for Star Trek. If you’re doing Star Trek comics, the actors (or their reps) sometimes get final say over the art. If you’re drawing Captain Picard, he needs to look like Patrick Stewart.
The guidelines for tie-in work vary from IP owner to IP owner. Some properties come with lengthy documents on the do’s and don’ts I mentioned above. Others are less restrictive. Each situation is a bit different.
Why Write Tie-ins?
Knowing all of this, writing tie-ins can be a lot of fun.
I have been fortunate enough to write stories based on characters I grew up watching. It was a thrill to write things like, Let’s Roll, Kato! and Look, Kemosabe!
Great moments that will stick with me forever.
One of my favorite tie-in moments came when a publisher I work with acquired the license to the AC Comics line of comic book characters and were planning to release a line of novels featuring the characters.
As a long-time fan of the character, Nightveil, I threw my name into the ring, reached out to the publisher with a pitch, which was approved, and I wrote Nightveil: Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity.
Not only was the book well-received, but it even won an award, which was simply a wonderful bonus. This was a dream come true gig thirty years in the making.
How Do I Join the Fun?
By this point, if I haven’t scared you off with the added steps, you’re probably asking yourself, how do I become a media tie-in writer?
It’s a question I asked myself once upon a time as well.
I won’t sugarcoat it. It’s not easy.
As with the extra steps in writing a tie-in story, there are extra steps in getting hired to write them as well.
The first step is getting hired by the publisher. This is a brick wall that so many of us, as writers, run into and have trouble getting past.
Once a publisher signs off on you, in some cases, the license holder has to sign off on your involvement.
These are all questions they will ask of you:
- Are they familiar with your work?
- Are you published?
- Have you written tie-ins before?
Then, comes the pitch. If you get to pitch, it has to be approved by both the publisher and IP holder.
I have had tie-in stories killed at this point because there’s already someone doing a similar story that contradicts something coming up on the show (this happens often for properties still on the air), and sometimes it’s as easy as they don’t think the story works.
As I mentioned before, they are looking at more than story. They are also looking to protect their brand.
If you made it this far, then comes the fun part… writing the story.
That’s followed by the terrifying part where you realize fans of the property will read it and you hope they like it. Take it from the voice of experience, not all of them will.
I hope this sneak peek into media tie-in writing was informative.
Good luck and happy writing.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Bobby Nash is an award-winning author (novels, comic books, short stories, screenplays, audio, & more). On occasion, he acts in movies and TV shows, usually standing behind your favorite actor. He draws a little too. For more information, please visit Bobby at www.bobbynash.com, www.ben-books.com, & on across social media.
Read his Author Q&A here.
Sign up for the Nash News newsletter and receive a free copy of Snow Falls.
3 Tie-in BooksBobby Nash worked on
Nightveil: Crisis at the Crossroads of Infinity by Bobby Nash
2020 Pulp Factory Award Winner – Best Pulp Novel
At the edge of infinity, chaos reigns.
A powerful enemy seeks to destroy the barrier that guards the Crossroads of Infinity, the mystical vortex at the center of the multiverse.
One hero continues to thwart this sinister scheme time and time again, the mystical maid of might known as Nightveil.
Undeterred, the villain is determined to complete her task, even if she has to kill the Nightveil of every single divergent dimension to do it.
Get ready for a crisis that could bring about the end of not only Nightveil, but the multiverse as we know it in award winning author Bobby Nash’s NIGHTVEIL: CRISIS AT THE CROSSROADS OF INFINITY, featuring characters created by and licensed from AC Comics.
Available in paperback and ebook. https://books2read.com/u/m2YD1d
The long-awaited return of the Green Hornet & Kato and their rolling arsenal the Black Beauty!
Back again with all-new stories! Moonstone is proud to present The Green Hornet Casefiles, our second anthology featuring all-new, original crime fiction tales of the man who hunts the biggest of all game, public enemies that even the FBI can’t reach!
It’s the mid 1960s, the political climate is shaky, there’s civil unrest, freedom and equality issues erupt everywhere from film to music to out in the streets.
On police records, the Green Hornet is actually a wanted criminal, a master manipulator, a crime boss who has his fingers in every pie. In reality, The Green Hornet is actually Britt Reid, owner-publisher of the Daily Sentinel.
Alongside him rides his partner Kato, who is not only a martial artist of unsurpassed prowess, but a skilled driver, and educated engineer as well.
Their goal is to destroy crime from within by posing as criminals themselves!
Stories by Joe McKinney, Jim Mullaney, John Everson, Paul D. Storrie, Eric Fein, Vito Delsante, Win Scott Eckert, Dan Wickline, Paul Kupperberg, Howard Hopkins, Bobby Nash, Arthur A. Lyon, Bradley Sinor, Matthew Baugh, F.J. Desanto, David Boop, Micheal Uslan, Joe Gentile, Tim Lasiuta, and Rafael Nieves. Edited by Joe Gentile and Win Scott Eckert. Cover Art by Rubén Procopio and Michael W. Kaluta.
Available in paperback: http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=884
Available in hardcover: http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=846
On Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/38yNqV
The Green Hornet: Still at Large
NEW prose stories!
– The Green Hornet and Kato’s final showdown with the notorious Yellowjacket!
– “Clicker” Binney’s origin story!
– Mike Axford pulls a sting on The Hornet!
– The Hornet and Kato take on homegrown terrorists!
– Doctor Fang returns, and Britt and Casey reach a turning point!
– Plus, a timeline of all 3 volumes of Moonstone stories fit into the chronology of the TV episodes!
Stories by S.J. Rozan, Will Murray, Richard Dean Starr, Matthew Baugh, Ron Fortier, Thom Brannan, Bobby Nash, Bobby Metevier, Dan Wickline, Howard Hopkins, Patricia Weakley, CJ Henderson, John Allen Small, Rich Harvey, Greg Glick, Mel Odom, and Win Scott Eckert. Edited by Joe Gentile, Win Scott Eckert, and Matthew Baugh. Cover by Doug Klauba and Rubén Procopio.
Available in paperback: http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=989
Available in hardcover: http://moonstonebooks.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=990
On Amazon: https://books2read.com/u/4DK7qD
Thanks again for inviting me to be part of this.
Glad to have you back!
This was such a great article! Thank you so much!
Glad to be back, Beth.