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Guffy
01-07-2009, 12:34 AM
I have never published a book but I am two thirds finished with a Star Trek novel. I’m a big fan of the original series and came up with my idea a couple of years ago. Now they’re coming out with a new movie based on the original characters so I think it would be a good time to be in the market with a new book.

I have a question about the guidelines for submission from Pocket Books.

The guidelines recommend that you complete only the first three chapters and then require you to find an agent to submit it to them. Most of the guidelines for finding an agent say that you should have the book finished.

Here’s the question (finally) would hurt my chances of finding an agent if I follow Pocket Books’ guidelines and sent out query letters about an unfinished manuscript?

I have a good solid synopsis and 8 finished chapters.

Thanks in advance for any help

DMG

katiemac
01-07-2009, 12:56 AM
Are these guidelines from Pocket Books specifically consistent with their Star Trek line?

Problem being that an agent is not going to touch a book based on someone else's work without you legally having the right to use those characters and places, whether it's unfinished or not. Most novels based on pre-established worlds and characters are hired out from within the company.

blacbird
01-07-2009, 01:00 AM
Echo what katiemac just said. Basically, you cannot publish such a book without obtaining the rights to use these characters, settings, etc., from the trademark holders. And they almost always hire such work out to known writers.

caw

Guffy
01-07-2009, 01:10 AM
Pocket Books set up a website to help new writers write Star Trek books for them, but they are the only publishers that can publish them. The requirement to find an agent to submit a book is to cut down on the number submissions.

BarbaraKE
01-07-2009, 01:54 AM
Don't quote me but I seem to remember reading somewhere that Pocket Books is no longer accepting submissions for ST books. Something about how they have a stable of established writers already and don't need any more.

But I'm not 100% sure.

CheshireCat
01-07-2009, 01:55 AM
To answer your question, it's probably okay to query agents stating that you're writing a Star Trek novel, that you understand Pocket alone publishes the series, and that you're following their guidelines.

From what I know of agents, I'd say you could have a hard time finding one interested in material they can only sell to a single market -- but you may be right about the timing, so give it a shot.

Just keep working on the book in the meantime. If Pocket is interested and wants changes, you'll still be better off having worked your way through the story in your own head.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
01-07-2009, 02:01 AM
Don't quote me but I seem to remember reading somewhere that Pocket Books is no longer accepting submissions for ST books. Something about how they have a stable of established writers already and don't need any more.

But I'm not 100% sure.

You're exactly right, BarbaraKE. I checked into doing a Trek book a couple years ago and was told in no uncertain terms that they had every ms they needed for the next three years and that they weren't accepting submissions due to their current 'stable' of writers.

Guffy
01-07-2009, 02:40 AM
thanks for the replies. i checked the website again and there is nothing stating that they are not taking any submission but it was last updated in 2004. i tried the send a message to the two editors that are listed for star trek books a message but the links where not working (bad sign). I sent a message to the contact address so i guess i wait until they reply. i don't feel like any writing is a waste of time so this wont be terrible, i'll just move on to something else.

ClaudiaGray
01-07-2009, 06:11 AM
That's the right attitude to have, Guffy.

The Trek program has recently been scaled back a bit. One of the editors was laid off on the Wednesday of the Long Knives, and the books are going to be published slightly less often -- which, as others indicated above, means they now have a long backlist. Your best bet is to pursue publication elsewhere. Hope you enjoyed writing, though, and got something out of it.

Guffy
01-07-2009, 07:03 AM
i did enjoy it. this is the first time i have ever put anything this big together. i have a complete out line and about 20k words. since i've got this much done i think i will go ahead and send out some inquiries but i will probably switch to a different project.

thanks for the help. this website is great. it is amazing.
DMG

blacbird
01-07-2009, 07:20 AM
No writing is wasted writing. Not even mine. You made progress in putting together something lengthy, and probably (though you might not even realize it yet) in the simple but important stuff of constructing sensible sentences, etc. And, though you likewise might not realize it yet, in the even more important stuff of generating further ideas.

caw

Teena
01-07-2009, 07:31 AM
Just a thought - you have invested so much already into this specific project, is there any way you can modify it into something OTHER than a ST book?

Can you take your story-line, change the characters and make something new from something old? Since you are a fan, can you encompass the ideas & thoughts you had while watching/reading - you know, those times when you said, "Geez, I'd do this or that differently?" After all, Star Trek isn't the only space adventure series. Good luck!

James D. Macdonald
01-07-2009, 07:33 AM
The best way to break into writing for a franchised series is to make a reputation writing your own original works.

Gillhoughly
01-07-2009, 07:43 AM
I found these submissions guidelines (http://www.simonsays.com/content/feature.cfm?feature_id=439&tab=24), courtesy of Google.

They are very strict and specific.

Paramount owns the copyright to the original characters and chances are good they will own any original characters you put in the book as well. That means you can't put them in any other book you write.

I know a few writers who have done Trek novels. In one case the book was taken out of the original writer's hands--they didn't like it--and gave the manuscript to another writer to "fix."

They can do that because they own the property.

I know this sounds extremely discouraging, but it's how things are. They call all the shots.

Umpty years ago I wanted to write a Trek novel, too. By the time I got an agent and asked about getting a contract there was some bru-ha-ha going on in the pub house, and he discouraged me from submitting.

The next time I asked (got a new agent who is much more encouraging!) I was too involved with my original projects.

I hope you'll go ahead and finish the book, because that is a very positive thing to accomplish. Just be aware that it might not sell.

However, no work you put into it is wasted! Whatever you write helps you learn more about this craft.

Joe Bob Briggs: "What you write doesn't matter; it's the practice that matters."

Of course, you CAN do what Lois McMaster Bujold did.

Her first serious work was a Trek novel she called "Mirrors." (She still calls it that.)

It was about a Klingon and a Federation officer trapped on a hostile planet who have to work together to survive. It was one hell of a good story.

She didn't sell it as a Trek novel, though. She "filed off the serial numbers" turned it into an original, and sold it to Baen Books as "Shards of Honor. (http://www.webscription.net/chapters/0671578286/0671578286.htm?blurb)" It's the first in her Hugo-winning Miles Vorkosigan books.

Check 'em out to see how she did it!

www.baen.com There are free books on this website. Can't get better than that!

Guffy
01-07-2009, 05:02 PM
Thanks for the encouragement. it really helps right now. A germ of an idea on how to change this up is starting to form. I can't tell you how much this website has helped me.
DMG

Charlie Horse
01-07-2009, 05:31 PM
My thoughts were right along the lines of Gillhoughly's. Change the characters slightly and make it an original. In fact, if it were me, I'd turn it into a satire, but that's just me.

Willowmound
01-07-2009, 05:43 PM
I have never published a book but I am two thirds finished with a Star Trek novel.

i have a complete out line and about 20k words.

Unfortunately, thirty thousand words isn't really long enough to be considered a novel...

gothicangel
01-07-2009, 06:46 PM
Guffy

I want to echo the words of others. Turn it into an original 100,000 Sci-fi novel and send it off to agents.

Guffy
01-07-2009, 07:31 PM
I did make a mistake in my original post. I am only one third finished with the final drafts. That brings the final word total up to about 60k. I will still need to add a few side stories to get it up to 80k. I think that would be the minimum. If I try to make it an original story there will be a lot more character and plot development to do and that would make it easy to the make the minimum. This could be a lot of fun.

I just want to say again and again how much help you all are being. I have never tried to get anything published before, but I have learned so much in the last few weeks it is incredible. School will start back up in the next few days and I wont be around as much but this has given me something to strive for.
Thanks
DMG

ChaosTitan
01-07-2009, 08:02 PM
Guffy, you've received some good advice, but please, try to refrain from posting the same thread in two places.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=126721

gothicangel
01-07-2009, 08:04 PM
Just let your imagination fly!

You're no longer bound by someone else's creation!

Guffy
01-07-2009, 09:42 PM
will do.

Phaeal
01-07-2009, 09:52 PM
Heh, my second finished novel was an ST:TNG, which I finished just before Pocket Books stopped taking agented subs due to full stable. As others have suggested, I may one day rework it to fit one of my original milieus.

If you haven't done so already, you could share your ST novel with other fans via one or more of the fanfic sites. No money, possible feedback. However, if you did plan to rework it, I'd hold off on doing this.

AC Crispin
01-16-2009, 09:47 PM
My last Star Trek novel, SAREK, was published in 1993, IIRC. So I'm a bit out of date. But it's my impression that you've been given good advice regarding writing for that franchise. They have a "stable" of authors they use and they are not really open to new folks these days, is my distinct impression.

It used to be that if you won placement in their fan writing anthology contest, that was published each year, the one judged by Dean Wesley Smith, that might give you an opening to pitch a novel to them. But that contest has been concluded. It ran for years, but it's over now.

I was told there was a recent shakeup in the Star Trek offices, and more layoffs.

Judging from that, and the from the general way the economic recession is hitting publishing, I'd say that if you have a terrific idea, "de-Trekking" it might be your best way to go.

I remember that after I realized just how difficult it was to sell a Star Trek novel, how it's a one-shot chance, I kicked myself, then sat down and outlined a way to turn Yesterday's Son into a non-ST novel. One of these days I'll have to write it.

Oh, and Uncle Jim is right...the best way these days to be signed to do work for hire with a franchise is to publish a number of books in your own universe that are well-received.

A tall order, but many have managed it.

Good luck,

-Ann C. Crispin