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?


  1. Fan Fic has been around for a long, long time. It's a good outlet to practice writing skills. But there are a lot of good writers on those sites. I'm not surprised that publishing houses are looking at those writers.

  2. Fan fic is a great outlet and a wonderful place to meet other writers. And I agree. It's a fun way to strengthen writing chops. What I find fascinating, though, is that the bigger publishers are now willing to look in the most humble of places for that next story to sell. The dichotomy has changed. Viewers, hits, platforms, fanpages ... all of these used to be developed after a story had been accepted and the contract signed. Now, they are practically expected alongside a query letter or submission. It's an interesting time to be in the mix of it all, isn't it?

  3. I think Fan Fic is fun and a great writing exercise, but the thing that bothers me about it being published, is the fact that the choice isn't made on quality, but "saleability". As a writer, I genuinely strive to produce the best work I can! I want to grow and improve my craft. When you read a work that breaks every "rule" in the book has just landed a 6 figure deal, it's pretty irritating. Not that the writer shouldn't be able to share his/her work and even get paid to do so, but it's almost insulting to the craft of writing. It's like banging symbols together for a song, calling it music, then it goes viral and sells a million copies. There's more to writing than putting words on a page. People have no appreciation for *good* writing anymore, so that's what bothers me about Fan Fic. It isn't monitored for great writers/writing--it's monitored for what sells. My two cents :)

  4. thanks for sharing..