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Friday News: More Twilight fan fiction goes mainstream; Stanford introduces open...

It is also rumored that Tara Sue Me has a book deal for her trilogy, the BDSM version of Twilight that was written before 50 Shades was written by EL James.

Gallery and Atria have gone crazy buying self published and fan fiction work. Is this a gamble that will pay off?

Cyndy Aleo, an original critic of the P2P emailed me this:

I still think the ethics are the same. I haven’t changed my mind about my own fanfic, and have no intentions of shopping it. For us old-schoolers, the cardinal rule is “First, make no money.”

That being said, I think it’s pretty apparent that, at least for the Twilight fandom, there won’t be any legal action. Arguing about each successive big-name fic that gets published is like asking someone to shut the barn door after the barn’s been burned down. Fifty Shades of Grey pretty much burned down the barn.

The Twilight fandom was always referred to as a feral fandom — which I know was resented by the community — but its inability to follow fandom conventions has been made obvious here by the number of authors who have made quite a bit of money doing what those of us who came from other fandoms were taught was the ultimate fandom heresy: profiting off the work.

At this point, I think the culture has changed so significantly that fighting is the equivalent of sitting and yelling “Get off my lawn.” It’s happening. It will continue to happen unless the books stop selling. It’s easier for publishers to take a chance on authors who have an established fan base, like we are seeing with successful self-published novels. I think any new fandoms that sprout up will probably see the same thing happen; I mean we have already seen an RPF sell in the One Direction fandom, and that’s something based on real people. It’s not going to stop because hardliners disagree.

What I really think would be interesting to see at this point would be for a fic to sell from a fandom that’s been suppressed by the canon author — say, J.R. Ward or Diana Gabaldon. Stephenie Meyer was a fanfic author herself and was very supportive of her fandom. If a fic sold out of an unsupported fandom, would we see the legal issues finally brought to the table?

Publishing reported quarterly segment operating income of $57 million, a $53 million decrease compared to the $110 million reported in the same period a year ago, due to lower advertising revenues across all divisions, led by declines at the Australian and U.S. publishing businesses. The declines were partially offset by increased contributions at the U.K. newspapers, which benefitted from the launch of the Sunday edition of The Sun in February 2012, and at HarperCollins, which benefitted from the acquisition of Thomas Nelson, Inc., a Christian book publisher.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

26 Comments

  1. Alicia
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 05:47:10

    At this point, I think the culture has changed so significantly that fighting is the equivalent of sitting and yelling “Get off my lawn.” It’s happening. It will continue to happen unless the books stop selling. It’s easier for publishers to take a chance on authors who have an established fan base, like we are seeing with successful self-published novels. I think any new fandoms that sprout up will probably see the same thing happen; I mean we have already seen an RPF sell in the One Direction fandom, and that’s something based on real people. It’s not going to stop because hardliners disagree.

    I’ve seen this argument before and it’s making me just as angry here. So, because people are getting away with doing wrong I shouldn’t be mad? I shouldn’t speak out against it? All the justifications in the world do not excuse what these people and publishers are doing. It doesn’t matter to me that suddenly people that others like are doing this wrong thing – that doesn’t make it justifiable.

    No, it’s not going to stop at this point. It’s a runaway train that’s plowing over the real professional authors out there who are putting out their own original work. I mean, Jesus, how many amazing authors we regularly talk about or to on this site publish with Berkley? And how many of them get the seven figures Gabriel’s Inferno (University of Edward Masen) got? I can name several off the top of my head that deserve it infinitely more. I’m allowed to be offended and pissed off about that. And I will continue to be even if I’m the last person standing. My ethics and integrity will allow nothing less. Even if someone I was friends with did it – my beliefs and my anger would not suddenly disappear. I would not support them. I won’t support this in any way.

    I hope that other people will keep speaking out against this. I hope the real professional authors not constrained by their publishers will speak out against it (and self-publish so I can buy their books again). But even if my voice doesn’t matter. Even if no one else cares and is fine with fandoms and publishing going to pot…

    GET OFF MY DAMN LAWN.

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  2. KT Grant
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 06:19:58

    I can’t blame the publishers for buying the fan fiction. They’re going to do whatever they can and what works to make them money. Case in point the uber-success of Fifty Shades. I blame these fan fic writers, some who said they would never publish their fan fiction, who are now seeing the big dollar signs and becoming hypocrites based on their original statements. But then again I can’t blame them either. If you could make a lot of money off publishing your fan fiction, why wouldn’t you? If someone like James made millions and got a pass from Meyer, why shouldn’t all fan fiction writers do the same?

    My question is, why is only Twilight fan fiction being targeted and sold? Is it because Meyer turned a blind eye to it? Does that mean any other fan fiction writer can publish their fan fiction like say the erotic Harry Potter fan fic, which I hear comes in a close second to the Twilight fan fic community? If someone rewrites their Harry Potter fan fic and publishes it in a big deal, would Rowling care?

    This bubble is going to burst soon because I see at least one author of the original characters and stories, who may have accepted fan fiction being written about their work bring a lawsuit forward.

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  3. Christine M.
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 07:21:25

    @KT Grant:

    I haven’t played in the HP ff field since HP5, but if memory serves well, Rowling tolerated fanfic but that was it. There was one HP website that got legal troubles from JK at some point, I think they were publishing a sort of HP encyclopedia of some sort. Very fuzzy. But I remember they got trouble for it. I don’t know what it’s like nowadays, but I remember at the time everyone in the slash part of the fandom was very respectful of the golden rule. I mean, even Cassie/Cassandra Clare actually took the time to write original fiction when she signed her big-six contract.

    I’ll just say I’m glad I left fandoms when I did. >.>

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  4. Cindy
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 08:25:34

    Years ago I did a fanfiction very loosely in Lord of the Rings (we’re talking Campbell’s condense chicken noodle soup type loosely), which was an epic romance and better written. Why don’t these publishers discover it? It could very easily be reworked into a fantasy or medieval romance, which I would love to do. It’s not even so much about the money but that I would love to have a larger audience. I barely used LOTR characters (none of them were lead characters) and one setting, so the fandom didn’t really bother with it.

    Yeah. I’m disgruntled about it. Jealous too.

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  5. Maya S.
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 08:53:29

    @Christine M.: Yes, the Harry Potter Lexicon tried to publish an encyclopedia of the Harry Potter universe and JKR took them to court, as she intends to someday publish her own companion books (and has sort of done so with Pottermore). She won.

    One of the differences between the HP fandom and the Twilight fandom that I’ve noticed mentioned elsewhere is how new the Twilight fandom is and the culture it began in. When HP fandom began, it was in an Internet culture where you did not publicize your works to the author or the subjects and you did not pull-to-publish. That’s not so much the case with Twilight. It’s also that the characters in Twilight fan-fics, especially AU’s, probably translate much better to changing a few names and removing identifying features. It’s a lot harder to do with HP fic.

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  6. Stephanie
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 09:08:51

    @Alicia:

    Sing it! I completely agree. If you want to write a book, if you want to sell a book to an audience, it must be your story and it must be YOUR CHARACTERS!!!!!!

    Anything else is just wrong.

    I found Bella to be utterly vacuous – which maybe makes it easy to simply change her name and pretend she’s somebody else… but it doesn’t discount what these “writers” are doing.

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  7. Janet P.
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 09:56:14

    I will just never be able to stomach paying $7.99 or more for fan fiction of all things. On one hand we have these agency pricing publishers screaming that Literature is going to end because no ~true~ authors will ever write unless the revenue is in place to pay them ….
    and then they run out and scoop up another load of free fan fiction and sell it for $7.99+. And people buy in droves.

    The world is truly a wacky place.

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  8. Na S.
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:30:38

    Gallery and Atria have gone crazy buying self published and fan fiction work. Is this a gamble that will pay off?

    I’ve noticed that publishers are buying many self-published work lately, too but for me it’s been most most noticeable with Penguin. I’ve noticed titles, Bared to You, On Dublin Street, Easy and Gabriel’s Inferno, etc. It seems to be mostly new adult and erotic fiction.

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  9. Jane
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:36:08

    @Na S – I’m tabulating the deals and S&S has bought fourteen. Penguin has bought eight. S&S looks to have spent somewhere near $10 million and Penguin about half that.

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  10. AH
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:39:25

    @Jane:

    On Dublin Street was a fanfic? I’ve enjoyed many fanfics, but once published they should be identified as fanfics.

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  11. Suleikha Snyder
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:41:15

    When HP fandom began, it was in an Internet culture where you did not publicize your works to the author or the subjects and you did not pull-to-publish.

    Yes. This. It’s not so much that Twilight has more fanworks or “better” fanworks (I saw that claim on Twitter, and my eyes rolled so far back in my head that I could see the backs of my knees), it’s that older fandoms aren’t as interested in media attention. It’s only in recent years that we’ve seen fan culture start to morph and change into something where showrunners acknowledging you, turning your pairings canon and such is the goal of a fannish group.

    I, personally, enjoy doing all my ‘shipping in the dark. While it’d be nice to see, say, The Vampire Diaries‘ Elena and Elijah hook up, I’m not demanding that happen. And coming from daytime soaps, which is a bit of a different animal and has more interaction with casts and showrunners, fanbases frequently yell themselves blue in the face without getting the pairing they want. But younger fans, or people who may be older in age but young in “fandom years,” are operating under a different sense of entitlement: of Fandom being about goal-driven success rather than enjoyment. i.e. Forcing the allegedly closeted members of One Direction out, getting “Sterek” as a pairing on Teen Wolf and, yes, selling your re-purposed fanfic to the highest bidder.

    Fandom has become a more transactional experience, it seems — you engage in it to get something, not to just find like-minded geeks to flail with.

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  12. Jane
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 10:42:02

    @AH: oh no. I don’t think On Dublin Street was fan fic or Easy or Bared to You. I think the only fanfic bought by Penguin was the Reynaud books.

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  13. hapax
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 11:31:58

    @ KT Grant:

    If you could make a lot of money off publishing your fan fiction, why wouldn’t you?

    I dunno, same reason I wouldn’t steal from a wallet I found on the street? Some of us have this thing called “ethics”, and we try to avoid being thieves and jerks, even if we could “get away with it.” (And, from your comment, you’re one of us as well, don’t mean to imply otherwise.)

    If someone rewrites their Harry Potter fan fic and publishes it in a big deal, would Rowling care?

    Oh, it’s out there, and I’ve read it — some of it pretty good, and some of it perfectly dreadful (Harry, Ron, and Hermione as cute widdle magical furries, anyone?) None of it is — quite — actionable, however, since it wasn’t P2P but cynically crafted for the purpose of cashing in.

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  14. KT Grant
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 11:36:59

    @hapax:

    I agree with everything you’re saying, but the sad thing is, if writers like James and Sylvain, among so many others publishing their Twilight pulled to publish fan fiction, and making a lot of money without any consequence can, others are going to also.

    The agents and publishers are enabling this with no problem. So perhaps the ethical issue also lies with them, but again when it comes to the dollar signs, many will turn a blind eye to it. When it comes to money, it seems ethics are thrown out the window.

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  15. Sunita
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 11:37:05

    You know, if you’re going to use a metaphor, get it right. It’s “closing the barn door after the last horse has bolted.” No fires involved. In this case, there were plenty of horses left in the barn and closing the door might have helped. The justifications for why it’s OK for this trilogy to be P2P’d are all being made by friends of the authors and people with a present or future stake in having P2P be legitimate and profitable.

    If it was wrong for ELJ, it’s wrong for these authors. Conversely, if it’s right for these authors, it was wrong right for ELJ. If people want to change their minds, fine; just be upfront that that’s what is going on.

    And I’m rolling my eyes along with Suleikha, although in my case it’s about the comments implied here and explicitly stated elsewhere that it’s the publishers’ fault because they’re buying the fanfic. Last time I looked, you can’t buy something that someone isn’t willing to sell.

    [Edited to correct wrong word.]

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  16. Claire
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 12:15:16

    My view is that cashing in on fanfic is not so different from the big hoo-hah when authors were including big name authors as part of their title – which amazon slammed down on (rightly) Both are stealing someone else’s hard earned fanbase

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  17. P. Kirby
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 12:37:48

    @Maya S.: “One of the differences between the HP fandom and the Twilight fandom that I’ve noticed mentioned elsewhere is how new the Twilight fandom is and the culture it began in. ”

    Hmmm. I wonder if this is going to be an issue with other, newer fandoms. Recently, I (*cough*) dipped my toes in fan fiction, posting a serial story in a movie fandom. This particular fandom is dominated by stories featuring a particular character, the villain, no less. Even though it has ties to a much older canon, I think a huge chunk of the current crop of writers are new to the fandom, drawn in by that character’s (and the actor’s) popularity.

    Now, to the best of my knowledge, most of that fandom’s writers (self included) have no P2P ambitions. I know of one writer who took her story and radically reworked it into a original story. But at this point, I don’t know of a 50 Shades scenario in this fandom.

    Nevertheless, I can’t help wondering if someone with a popular story will eventually do the P2P thing. Because, as with the Twilight community, the preponderance of writers in this fandom are young or new to fan fiction and not necessarily operating under the same set of rules as seen in older fandoms.

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  18. mykoffee
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 14:54:11

    Would love to see the Tara Sue Me books in print, they were so well done! This is good news!

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  19. Beth
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 15:11:25

    @ KT Grant:

    A lot of fan fiction from all fandoms has been pulled and sold. The difference between older fandoms and the Twilight fandom is that normally “filing the serial numbers off” means not bragging about it or admitting it, as well as making a concerted effort to drastically alter the text or switch worlds (like, from a story abut vampires to a story about astronauts). Even then, it’s still very much looked down on in most corners of fandom as a whole.

    Back when fandom made the transition from zines and BBBs and Usenet groups to actual websites, a lot of people were extremely paranoid about bringing any attention to their fandoms for fear of legal backlash. From watching several fandoms evolve over the past 15 years, I learned a few unofficial rules about what were unacceptable actions (keep in mind these are my observations only, not necessarily personal opinions):

    Fen don’t dox other fen (reveal personally identifying information) or connect personal and fandom personas/profiles/pseudonyms that fen have kept separate.

    Fen don’t plagiarize canon authors’ texts or the texts of other fen. I realize that a lot of people equate plagiarism and infringement, but they are two different species. There have been precendents of legal fan fiction (Wide Sargasso Sea, Romeo and Juliet, parodies that would be legal anyway but still count as a type of fan fiction, etc.), so while fans argue among themselves about the boundaries of fair use and derivative works and whether derivative works should be considered legal as long as they are not-for-profit, plagiarism is never okay.

    Fen do NOT purposefully bring fandom activities that fall into legal gray areas (art, fic, LARPs, whatever) to the attention of the creators of the canon works or the actors, producers, etc.

    Fen respect the wishes of creators who state explicitly that they are against fan works.

    Above all, fen don’t try to profit off of fandom or fan works.

    For me, being against is not just a matter of ethics, it’s a matter of preserrving fan culture by limiting legal threats that can have a chilling effect on fandoms. After all, people are discussing and remixing and creating out of a love for the worlds that artists have created, and it seems like a betrayal of everyone involved to spoil that.

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  20. Georgia
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 16:22:10

    I would like to see more discussion about the agents and publishers involved. I saw an excellent point on twitter yesterday. What would I do if my agent was selling fanfiction of another author’s work? What would I do as an agent if a fellow agent sold fanfic of my client’s work? I’m sure Stephenie Meyer has come to some sort of agreement with her camp. Maybe she decided not to sue, period. Maybe she’s getting a back door cut. Who knows. But if I worked very hard on an original story/series and another agent/author team came along and made up to seven figures off my hard work I would be very upset.

    There is also this very hypocritical tone to this whole discussion of who can P2P and who can’t. I witnessed, real time, agents flipping their opinion on the sale of fics because another agent they were friends with assured them the story had been altered just enough and they the writing was good. How do you stand on those types of wobbly ethics?? Either it’s right or it isn’t, as SUNITA pointed out. I don’t think it’s fair to authors who are working on original pieces and I really don’t think it’s fair to readers.

    Stephenie Meyer, and to be completely honest, Robert Pattinson made these stories popular. Not the quality of the writing or the strength of the plot, but the idea that Robert and Kristen’s likenesses could be applied to these Edwards and Bellas in sexual situations. If you visit twilight fandom spaces there are pictures of Robert everywhere. See the original banner for The Office that has been included in these recent press releases.

    I sincerely hope this does not bleed over into other fandoms, but if people are willing to pay for stuff that is STILL on the internet for free then I guess I shouldn’t hold my breath.

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  21. Meg
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 16:34:53

    @Beth:

    Everything Beth has said here is gold.

    Disclaimer: I am a current, active fanfic author. It wouldn’t be hard to find the work that I’ve done.

    However, I also am a professional author writing comics based in Oz (which is public domain) using original characters. I’ve also written several other original comics, and I’m working on a couple of novels — again, with original characters. However, I love writing historic fiction and using historic characters, which in a way is a type of fanfic. That’s pretty much a genre into and of itself. Look at all of the published derivatives of Jane Austen’s work and even Gregory Maguire’s “Wicked” — which is a mega-popular fanfic that has gone all the way to Broadway. As Beth said, there is plenty of precedence of legal fanfic out there. You can even argue movie remakes are fanfics. Look at things such as “10 Things I Hate About You.” Isn’t that essentially modeled on “Taming of the Shrew”?

    However, I have no plans to ever professional publish my fanfic. It’s a labor of love to a fandom and a pairing I adore, and it’s also been such a wonderful way to craft my writing. I don’t think I could be doing the work I do now without having dabbled in fanfic.

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  22. Ros
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 16:46:48

    @Meg: Huh? Historical fiction is a kind of fanfic, look at Austen? No. Austen fanfic is not the same as historical fiction (see the example in today’s Daily Deals post – Austen fic set in 21st century).

    Historical fiction is not fanfiction. It’s taking historical settings, events and sometimes people and writing original novels. Yes, I know about RPF (which I loathe and despise) which I suppose, if it’s based on real historical people, might overlap with historical fiction. But fanfiction basically depends on another creative source, rather than a real life situation.

    And sure, there’s legal fanfic where the original source is in the public domain. There’s still an argument about its ethical and creative status. But that’s irrelevant to the questions of Twilight fic, where the original source is clearly still under copyright. And it’s also irrelevant to the question of whether pulling to publish violates the internal ethics of the fandom.

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  23. Meg
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 17:02:07

    @Ros: @Ros:

    Sorry, Ros, I didn’t make myself clear. I meant historic fiction like … say the current Assassin’s Creed 3, which is set during the American Revolution. The story features the main character interacting with real historic figures such as George Washington, Charles Lee, etc., and they’re all integral to the plot of the story. It’s RPF essentially, right?

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  24. giselle-lx
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 21:35:48

    Am I alone in having received the lesson, “Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean it’s right” in kindergarten?

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  25. Alicia
    Nov 10, 2012 @ 06:06:48

    @Sunita: Exactly. Exactly. People need to stop coming up with these excuses and at least own what they are. Now they’re trying to make those of us who haven’t changed our opinion on this subject – no matter who is doing it – out to be irrational. Vehement, I assume, in an effort assuage their guilt over their fair-weather ethics. And I totally agree, it’s ridiculous to remove blame from either the fanfic writers or the publishers (or the agents since Valarie Hoskins and Holly Root are instrumental in some of these deals). They’re both at fault. And wrong.

    @giselle-lx: You most certainly are not. I almost can’t believe some of the things I’m seeing come from adults. (You’re gone! Sad.)

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  26. Sheogorath
    Jun 21, 2013 @ 13:53:16

    Christine M said: There was one HP website that got legal troubles from JK at some point, I think they were publishing a sort of HP encyclopedia of some sort. Very fuzzy.
    Not fuzzy at all. Steven Vander Ark created and published an online HP lexicon, which J.K. Rowling had no problem with and even used. What caused the pro author to launch her lawsuit was when Vander Ark decided to publish the Harry Potter Lexicon in print without J.K.’s permission and without even offering her any royalties, not because of planned companion pieces as others here have inaccurately claimed. J.K. and her publisher didn’t make anything from ‘Quidditch Through the Ages’ or ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ because all proceeds went to charity.

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