Max Allan Collins along with Lee Goldberg is one of the founders of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. I'm also a member even though I've only one tie-in to my credit. But here's a letter Al (Max) put on line today that shows how serious the tie-in business has become and how many good writers are doing such fine work in the genre. Tie-ins are no longer thriwaways--in case you had noticed.
There's a very good and respectful piece on horror movie novelizations -- with lots of discussion about tie-ins in general, defending them -- in RUE MORGUE #85 (December). It's a good, slick horror mag from Canada (this time it has a fairly explicit article about horror porn spoofs, which I found a little surprising).
On another subject, I appreciated Karen's comments, re: her own specialization in the tie-in racket, er, I mean, medium. For me the rewards beyond the monetary have been quite the opposite -- I have been able to write all kinds of stuff that I otherwise wouldn't have an opportunity to explore. I am a mystery/suspense writer, outside tie-ins, but in our arena I've been able to do science fiction (WATERWORLD, DARK ANGEL), techno-thriller (IN THE LINE OF FIRE, AIR FORCE ONE), western (MAVERICK), outright comedy (PINK PANTHER), fantasy-adventure (THE MUMMY) and on and on.
On the other hand, I got turned down for STAR TREK -- I guess I did: after doing several samples with editorial input, the project just sort of fell away -- and after many months developing an editor-directed fifty page proposal, THE X-FILES bounced me, too...although I had the happy ending of getting the second film novel, which was one of the happiest tie-in experiences of my career (incredible support from Spotnitz and Carter...who'da thunk it?).
I'm not sure there's any such thing as a name-brand writer in tie-in. Some writers who have a track record make choosing them a no-brainer for editors; you can call that lazy editing, or you say that writers like Karen, Kevin. Jeff and Keith have earned their stripes and deserve the work.
Recently I went to a G.I. JOE website (I'm doing the novelization of that) to try to get a feel for the property and saw my name invoked by one fan as "a guarantee that it'll be a phoned-in job." Yessir, my big name goes far....