Friday, 17 July 2015

Fan-fiction: what it means for the professional author

My moment of parasol.
About five years ago fellow author Gail Garriger wrote a thoughtful post about "Fan-Fic, Fan-Make & Other Issues". Worth a read, since she's so very good at putting things in a genteel manner. The reason I mention it now is because some writerly friends of mine were discussing that post the other day.

Also, I reference to this first because of all the authorial opinions I've read (JK Rowling, GRR Martin, et al), this is one of the best-phrased.

I confess I haven't thought much before about fan-fiction, and the impact on a professional author. Perhaps I should. After all, I plan on being very prolific as an author over the next fifty years and that's bound to attract several fans, some of whom will be inspired by my works.

Now I've got to consider fan-fic from the point of a pro author. For me, this is something new.

I confess to a teenage indulgence in fan-fic, both the reading and writing thereof. As I realised it was taking precious writing time away from my personal projects, I weaned myself off it. (note: any fan-fiction I ever wrote was pre-Internet and has never been posted online. I kept it rather personal. Any existing copies are handwritten in notebooks and are probably mouldering away in some cardboard box in my parents' basement.)

Will I ever write fan-fiction again? Most likely not. I've got far too many novels of my own clamouring to be written.

Fan-fic was fun. Fan-fic was great. It allowed me to play in someone else's created universe, especially during a time when book releases were a year or more apart. It was good training during my apprentice years in some aspects of the craft. But my dalliance with fan-fic was from the view of a fan. First and foremost in a fan's heart is love of someone else's created world. That's what drives most of fan-fiction.

It's the fraction of fan-fiction driven by other motivations that have caused me to put some thought into this subject now.

Several years ago I was entranced with the thought that someone would want to write fan-fic of my works. I considered it a potential compliment. Had I inspired a reader enough for them to want to spend more time in the worlds I created? Did I ignite a creative spark within them? To me, it was a form of flattery.

My attitude is changing.

In 2012 LiveJournaler "Oh No They Didn't!" featured a post with several authors' opinions regarding fan-fiction. General consensus: opposed to various degrees. I see their point, especially from the professional author's point of view.

As for fan-fiction derived from my novels and characters--my thoughts? I like Gail's attitude. If anything has been written regarding anything in my creative sphere (worlds, characters, storylines) that I didn't write, I can't read it. Don't ask me to read your fan fic, don't post it somewhere I am likely to come across, don't email/post/sing it to me. I can't know about it.

And by all means, certainly do not make a profit from it. If anyone with legal financial interest in my creative works (i.e.: my agent, my publisher, my estate, etc) comes across fan-fiction (or unauthorised anything, really) based on said creative works that has created profit, you can bet there will be some legal action going down. You're not just dealing with me. You're dealing with everyone who is supported by my writing. And they may not be as nice as I am.

Writing fiction is my job. I work so many hours a day at it in return for some financial compensation. This financial compensation buys food, pays school tuition and more.

I am happy that my books have sparked an ember of joy in your hearts. That's why I published. But if you are so inspired to write, and you are driven to profit, I recommend you do as I did and seek to profit from your own 100% original works.

Her Grace must now let the cat inside.

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