Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Is Fan Fic the New Trend?

The publishing industry has been in a tailspin for a while now. Established publishers that once banked on printing hardcovers first with a strong softcover follow-up are now scrambling as digital sales take a bite out of profit margins. That, coupled with the indie movement, has created a one-two punch that has everyone restructuring best business practices. 

We need look no further than the latest round of big publishers snatching up novice writers. Fifty Shades started out as fan fiction, and now it seems that another Twilight spin-off has hit pay dirt too.

Abigail Gibbs, a teen who took the Bella/Edward scenario in a different direction, has just been given a six figure deal by HarperCollins. According to The Brisbane Times, the first twenty chapters of the book attracted 17 million views, and it was then that a literary agent advised Gibbs not post the end of the story. You can read the entire article here, but I think this quote sums it up nicely:  
  "With an existing fan base waiting to see what happens next and the potential for word-of-mouth social media recommendations, HarperCollins's publishing director, Shona Martyn, expects the vampire thriller to find an immediate audience."
Regardless of where you stand on the issue of fan fiction, no one can argue that the industry is taking a good, long look at young writers that establish some sort of platform. It speaks volumes that HarperCollins readily admits the vampire genre is waning, and yet they are willing to invest in an unknown author solely based on the number of page hits they have.
 
While I'm sure I won't be reading this work anytime soon, I do like the fact that that our new gatekeepers are the readers and not someone predicting projected trends based on marketing focus groups.  

What do you think? Is Fan Fic bad for an already floundering industry?