TV Tie-Ins Are Crap

A woman recently approached me at a signing for my latest DM book and said she hadn’t read them until now because “everybody knows TV tie-ins are crap.” She loved my book, but had to get past her built-in distrust of anything with a TV character’s face on the cover.

What got her to take a chance on my book was the blurbs from authors she trusted and enjoyed…. otherwise, she never would have picked it up. She was stunned that the book wasn’t hack work (she’s also started reading Max Alan Collins’ “CSI” books and is loving them…)

This got me wondering… is her general opinion about TV tie-ins something most people share? Does everybody immediately look at a TV tie-in mystery and think “it’s got to be hack work?” This hasn’t stopped the “Star Trek” novels from becoming huge hits…and an industry unto themselves. But is this a fluke? What do you think? And if you share her opinion, what would it take to get you to give a TV-inspired novel a chance?

6 thoughts on “TV Tie-Ins Are Crap”

  1. Get someone like Steve Hamilton or Laura Lippman to write a tie-in to The Wire or Law & Order.
    Hell, get some of the younger, hungrier guys to do that. Can you imagine what Dave Zeltserman or Trevor Maviano could do with The Sopranos?
    I’d still read the Star Trek novels had I not burned out on scifi, except that they generally aren’t edited anymore and make a lot of fanfic look like Booker Prize candidates. (And yes, I’m including some slashfic in that. Er… Not that I’ve read slash. I’ve just heard. Yeah. That’s it.)

  2. Some are, and some aren’t. I’ve read a few Babylon 5 tie ins, but I’ve heard most of the ones I haven’t read are pretty aweful. As with everything else, it depends on the author writing the book.
    I think I’ve mentioned that I have two or three Murder, She Wrote novels at home. I loved that show as much as DM, but I have yet to actually read one.

  3. Hey Lee, Did your filter stop that subject line?
    I have to agree that I have always thought of them as junk reading but harmless. There are so many books I want to buy and read that the t. v. tie-ins would just never jump into my hand no matter how fond I was of the series.
    That said, I did my Lee assigned homework and gave it some thought and came up with a possible even for me. I was a big Buffy fan; both the writing and the acting. If Joss Whedon wrote the books I would probably read a Buffy tie-in just to see if it would alleviate some of my withdrawal pangs. I like t.v. but love reading. Homicide: Life On the Streets, same thing. Old West Wing with Aaron Sorkin would make me take a second look. Lots of t.v. is schlock and therefore the books can be schlock as well and appeal to the original viewers. I love language and hugely admire those who use it well.
    More than you ever wanted to know. Thanks for commenting on D.L. and keeping us informed. I have watched t.v. episodes of shows I don’t normally view because you wrote them.
    Roberta Moore

  4. Yes, I’m prejudiced against TV tie-ins, although I hadn’t been tempted to try them. Part of the fun of TV mysteries is being able to hang around the detective, and I get that kick easier watching the show than reading about them (I’m thinking about Columbo and Magnum in particular).
    Although I agree with Jim that getting a name writer would kick up the interest level a notch.
    It’s coincidental that at the Hershey Library book sale last week I picked up a TV tie-in book because I read the first chapter there at the table and decided it was worth a buck, so I’ll read this “Silent Partner” book and get back to you on it.

  5. Jim Thompson wrote Dragnet tieins
    Harry Whittington wrote Man From Uncle books
    Walter Wager did I Spys
    Stuart Kaminsky did the Rockford tie-ins
    Max Alan Collins does the CSIs…
    Thomas Cook did Taken
    Elizabeth Hand did Catwoman
    There are quite a few “name” writers doing tieins


Leave a Comment