Joining the Club

Growing up reading comics, I found myself drawn more to comics featuring teams than individuals. Books like JLA and Legion of Super-Heroes (then in Adventure Comics) rose to the top of my reading pile and I adored any issue of Green Lantern that featured the Corps.

Professionally, I consider myself a top-notch team player and enjoy the collaborative process both at DC and in some of my freelance work.

So, you might imagine I enjoy being a member of clubs, of sorts. I subscribe to a number of mailing lists covering topics from Star Trek to the nearly forgotten TV series Search. Recently, I joined another list for media tie-in writers and now they’re forming a real club, or organization similar to the Science Fiction Writers of America.

From the chair, my old Starlog colleague Lee Goldberg:

What is a Tie-In Writer?

We write science fiction, westerns, mysteries, romance and thrillers and sometimes all of the above. Our work embraces just about every genre you can think of, from Star Trek to CSI, from Gunsmoke to Murder She Wrote, from Dune to James Bond, from Resident Evil to Lizzie McGuire.

Our books are original tie-in novels, comic books and short stories based on existing characters from movie, TV series, books, games, and cartoons — or they are novelizations (books based on screenplays for movies and TV shows).

Tie-ins and novelizations are a licensed works — meaning they are written with the permission and supervision of the creators, studios, or other rights-holders of the original characters.

Well-known tie-in writers include Kingsley Amis, Kevin J. Anderson, Raymond Benson, Gregory Benford, Lawrence Block, David Brin, Greg Bear, Max Brand, Orson Scott Card, Leslie Charteris, Arthur C. Clarke, Max Allan Collins, Peter David, Ian Fleming, Alan Dean Foster, John Gardner, Elizabeth Hand, Stuart Kaminsky, David Morrell, Robert B. Parker, Robert Silverberg, Theodore Sturgeon, and Jim Thompson to name just a few.

Our books are published by the major publishing companies, are available everywhere, sell tens of millions of copies worldwide and regularly appear on the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists — but the actual craft of tie-in writing goes largely unrecognized and is greatly misunderstood.

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers will change all that.

Why the IAMTW?

Tie-writers and their work are often overlooked and under-appreciated by existing organizations like the Mystery Writers of America, Science Fiction Writers of America, and the Romance Writers of America, even though some of their most respected members work in the field. Tie-ins represent a huge percentage of the books published each year, they are enormously successful and are widely enjoyed by readers. And yet we have no organization that represents our unique business and professional interests nor acknowledges excellence in our field.

Until now. Until the IAMTW. The name itself is a declaration of pride in what we do: I AM a T ie-in W riter. We say it with pride because we are very proud of what we do and the books we write.

The IAMTW is dedicated to enhancing the professional and public image of tie-in writers — to working with the media to review tie-in novels and publicize their authors — to educating people about who we are and what we do — and to providing a forum for tie-in writers to share information, support one another, and discuss issues relating to field. Our members include authors active in many other professional writer organizations (MWA, PWA, WGA, SFWA, etc.) and who bring those unique perspectives to their work for their fellow tie-in writers.

Every major industry has an award for excellence in their field…not just books, movies, records, and TV show. Awards are a demonstration that people take pride in their work and strive to constantly do better. Respect from ones peers is important…and, up until now, tie-in writers haven’t even been able to enjoy that, despite our impressive sales. Our Scribe Awards will celebrate excellence in our craft and, at the same time, draw attention to tie-in writers among publishers, booksellers and readers.

* * * * *

Since Lee posted this to the mailing list, people have considered the ramifications of the organization but have spent more time dissecting what the awards should be and how they should be handled.

To me, it’s putting the emphasis in all the wrong places. The organization needs to find an identity, picking what we like best from not only SFWA but all the other genres that have groups from Suspense writers to Romance writers. Then, once we get our footing established, then worry about things like awards for greater recognition.

Having never been in on the ground floor of such an organization before, this should be fascinating. I should make popcorn.

3 comments

  • I couldn’t agree more, Bob. Thanks for posting the announcement!

  • It sounds like an interesting venture. I hope it succeeds, as I think anything that codifies even more the difference between professionals (tie-in writers) and amateurs (fanfic writers) is usually A Good Thing. Y’all worked hard to get to where you are.

  • That reminds me: Al Collins said he was going to get me on this list post-Comic-con. Could you drop a note to the poor soul who’s the list admin?