We see novels based on other universes published all the time. Be they
the Extended-Universe Star Wars novels written by people like Timothy
Zahn or the Star Trek novels which go largely uncreditted by Paramount
studios, and they seem to do fairly well. Do you have any tips on how
I may actually go getting Atlantis published? Obviously there would be
copyright issues that need to be resolved with Universal studios and
so on, but I don’t have the foggiest on where to begin!
First off, your initial premise is wrong: Paramount maintains rigid control over the STAR TREK novels as does Lucasfilm over the STAR WARS books.
I would say it would be impossible to get Atlantis, your SeaQuest-derived work, published and it would be an utter waste of time to pursue it. But, for the sake of argument, you would have to contact Cindy Chang at Universal Licensing in Los Angeles for permission to shop it around. Then whatever publisher you found would have to pay Universal a license fee to publish your work.
There are two ways that licensed novels are usually pursued.
1) The studio offers their TV or movie property to publishers.
2) a publisher contacts a studio and says they are interested in a particular property, what would it cost to license it?
In either case, the studio is paid a license fee, receives royalties, and usually maintains creative control over the property (ie they can approve or reject writers, stories, manuscripts, etc.).
For instance, in my case, Penguin/Putnam had tremendous success with the MURDER SHE WROTE novels (licensed from Universal) and wanted to come up with a companion series that would appeal to the same audience. So they approached Paramount and licensed DIAGNOSIS MURDER from them, then they came to me to write the books (though I had to be approved by Paramount first). I am paid an advance and a royalty. Paramount, in addition to the license fee, also gets royalties. All my manuscripts are read, and approved, by Paramount before they are published.
My advice to you is to move on. It’s time to write something original…and to put your efforts into getting that published instead.