Sunday, April 20, 2014

Fan Fiction Earns Even More Respect

I'm not a fan of the supernatural romance genre.* I read the first Stephanie Meyers novel back when the series was still young because the industry buzz at the time said it was going to be the next Potter phenomenon. I barely made it through the horrid writing without vomiting, but to be fair, I am not the target audience. What I do find interesting though is the supernatural romance phenomenon and industry. Millions of woman and young girls devour these stories as quickly as the industry can produce them, and while I may not like the particular stories themselves, I appreciate the healthy economics it generates.

But since I don't follow it too closely, I was quite surprised to read the cover story on the Wall Street Journal Arena section: "A Vampire Writer Bites Back" (April 18, 2014). I had no idea that the initial author of "Vampire Diaries" was essentially fired from the series she wrote. Lost in the confusion of publishing contracts, buy-outs, etc., it turns out that the idea of the "Vampire Diaries" belonged to the publishing company and that L.J. Smith was a "work for hire" writer.

The author is slowly taking her creation back, though, through the use of fan fiction avenues, and the WSJ (being a business-oriented paper) article focuses on how fan fiction has (and is) changing the publishing industry. As everyone knows by now, the S&M porn of "50 Shades of Grey" was initially Bella and Edward fan fiction with name changes. Plus many other now-popular paranormal romance stories were born from the same Twilight DNA (which again, got its DNA from Buffy's romances with Angel and Spike, which can be traced back to Vlad and Nina).

The question is: How long will this sort of impact last? Will it bleed over into other genres?

I can remember writing Star Wars fan fiction when I was a young teenager, but that was pre-Internet days, before even "Return of the Jedi" had been released, and it was something I didn't feel comfortable sharing with friends. I do know there is some sci-fi fan fiction floating around out there, most of it centers around the gaming industry (Michael Stackpole has some interesting stories), so it'll be interesting as I delve into some research as to how much is out there, and if it is publishable.

One company that has the spare seed money to experiment is Amazon. As you'll read in the WSJ article, Amazon is taking a chance that fan fiction can be profitable and, at the very least, bring some attention to talented writers who would normally get lost in the publishing slush pile.

So don't be afraid, sit down at your keyboard with you favorite characters or universe, and tell a story or two. You never know, you may make a name for yourself.

Until Next Time...
Fictionally Yours,

*I am a huge fan of all things "Buffy", and while it can be credited with giving that category a huge boost, "Buffy" was not a supernatural romance.
** I included the above picture, because if I was writing Twilight fan fiction, that truly is how I would have ended the first book. No, I wouldn't have waited that long -- I would have had Blade show up before page 50. But that wouldn't have been very profitable, and I doubt the publisher would have ever printed my version.

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