Transcript for “Why Fanworks Should Be Celebrated”

Banner by Kat of old school pixel images of a typewriter, an mp3 player, a cosplayer, a film camera, and a desktop computer with the title 'International Fanworks Day, February 15, 2015'

As part of celebrations for International Fanworks Day, the OTW hosted a chat on February 8, 2015. “Why Fanworks Should Be Celebrated”, with authors Cecilia Tan, Tara Sue Me, and Racheline Maltese.

We would like to thank all of the panelists who took part in this chat. Be sure to check out other planned events for International Fanworks Day and let us know how you will be celebrating!

The transcript has been edited for clarity and to omit attendees’ arrivals, departures, and personal greetings.


Janita Burgess
I just put a little reminder post on tumblr with a link to this chat room, so we might get people joining as this goes on.

*Racheline
Ah excellent, I should go remind my Tumblr peeps.

*Cecilia T.
Yeah, I just hit Twitter, Tumblr, Ello, Tsu, Facebook, Google+. What am I forgetting?

Kiki
Morse code

Ed W.
to catch your breath

Janita Burgess
Unless you have LJ or DW… That’s pretty freaking thorough.

*Francesca C.
semaphore

anyone remember the old Python sketch–Wuthering Heights

with an Aldis Lamp

Claudia R.
Haha, one of my favorites, Francesca

*Cecilia T.
Oh right! LJ/DW/IJ. brb…!

Nerine Luna C.
I can’t even imagine having to keep up with all those social media o.O

*Racheline
I think a lot of us view it as part of the job. Cecilia is a champion at it though.

Nerine Luna C.
I’m good with just facebook and tumblr, and twitter to just check up on others (I don’t really tweet myself)

*nods* I can imagine, but still.. those are a lot of things to keep up with

algonquin
I’ll be honest in that I’ve pared down to what gets the most response. I’m on a year’s sabbatical from Facebook.

Janita Burgess
I wish I could do that, but I think my mom would think I was dead

*Tara S.
I only do Facebook and Twitter.

*Racheline
Weirdly, FB works really well for me, even though I’m not a huge fan of it. But a lot of the romance reading community is there. Twitter is my favorite probably. And I enjoy using Tumblr but that’s sort of a weird hybrid of my fan and pro activity.

Soprano R.
I’m on an indefinite sabbatical from Tumblr, myself. It kept eating my soul.

algonquin
LOL. tumblr is TEH DEBIL but I love it so much. So much positivity for fandom. As for Facebook, the algorithm BS has really limited my writing audience, and my family on there drives me insane. Hence the break.

*Cecilia T.
Tumblr is the world’s most addictive time sink.

Soprano R.
Yes. Yes it is.

*Cecilia T.
There are entire TV shows and movies I’ll never see but I know all about them from Tumblr.

algonquin
SAME

Soprano R.
MEGA SAME

Kiki
Fannish osmosis via tumblr

*Cecilia T.
Yes exactly.

Nerine Luna C.
yep. absolutely.

Bjørg J.
Same for me

*Racheline
So here’s the trick for the FB algorithm — post the thing to your author page, then share it from your personal page. Boom 500 views!

*Cecilia T.
So set the scene for me, what are you all drinking and what music are you listening to (if any)?

Bjørg J.
All I know about Doctor Who I’ve got from tumblr, ever seen an actual episode

algonquin
Diet Coke, no music or I’ll be singing instead of paing attention

Ed W.
diet coke and rock n roll

Soprano R.
I just finished my rose hip tea and I’m tempted to listen to the Bayonetta OST…

*Cecilia T.
I’m drinking a tea blend called Starry Night (black tea with coconut shavings, delicious) and listening to Adam Lambert.

*Francesca C.
I’m your host, Francesca Coppa, I’m one the folks who founded this popcorn stand, and I’m really really pleased today to be able to host a discussion with three authors who have written both fanfiction and published work in the market–Cecilia Tan, Racheline Maltese, and Tara Sue Me. (For our audience, their chat usernames and mine are all prefaced with a * symbol.)

Seanan McGuire has a great quote where she says

“A lot of fanfic authors go on to become professional authors, and keep on writing fanfic in whatever spare time they have. I am not a special snowflake in this regard. I belong to a blizzard.”

These are three VERY special snowflakes in that blizzard!

Welcome everybody to the Organization for Transformative Works chat on “Why Fanworks Should be Celebrated” which is one of the events leading up to International Fanworks Day on Feb 15!

I’ll like to start by having them introduce themselves, and maybe talk a little about your fan-pro history: how you got into fandom, when you went pro, how you see the relationship between fan and pro writing. We then have questions previously submitted by the audience and we’re also happy to let the discussion range organically–so if you have questions, do ask them.

(we’ll ask you to type “raise hand” and we’ll call in people in order)

but to start, let’s have the panelists introduce themselves, so maybe we’ll go in order of the sidebar–Cecila, Racheline, and Tara–is that ok?

*Cecilia T.
Sure!

*Racheline
works for me

*Tara S.
sounds good!

*Francesca C.
Cecilia take it away 😀

*Cecilia T.
LOL! It’s snowing here, by the way. Again. *cries* But hi, I’m Cecilia, and I was a professional fiction writer for about ten years before I fell headfirst into Harry Potter fanfic. I started writing fic and I have never stopped, basically.

I’m still active in Potter fandom today.

I just looked back at my Livejournal to see what year that was. 2006.

(I should add, I used to be sort of in the closet about it, but that didn’t last.)

My life goal is pretty much to kick down any closet door I see, so of course it didn’t last. 🙂

I should also add I welcome people writing fic in my own universes, too. It’s all about love, why would I want to squash that?

*Cecilia T.
LOL. That’s plenty from me for now. Racheline?

*Racheline
Hahaha. Okay. Like Cecilia, I’ve spent a lot of time in HP fandom and have always been open about my real identity online which is a luxury I have that I acknowledge a lot of people don’t.

I think I started in fandom as a tween and was exchanging stories in the V fandom (um, it was a miniseries in the 80s about lizard people aliens) via postal mail.

Online I’ve been most active in the Harry Potter, Glee, and Riverside (Ellen Kushner’s book series that begins with Swordspoint) fandoms. My background is in journalism; I was always a writer. But it was basically an accident that I wound up with a lot of professional opportunities because of that fan stuff to write both fiction and non-fiction.

I just got my first piece of fanart ever for some of my original work, so that’s been really exciting (also like Cecilia, people should feel free to play in my sandboxes).

*Cecilia T.
(<3 fanart!) *Tara S.
Hi, I’m Tara and I joined the Twilight fandom in 2008 and started writing fanfic shortly thereafter.

In Jan 2009, I decided to try my hand at erotic AH AU Twilight fanfic. I didn’t tell anyone in real life and, in fact, I only told my husband after I was approached with a book deal.

I have a background in the Pharmaceutical industry.

And that’s about all for me!

*Francesca C.
That’s great, that’s wonderful.

Maybe we’ll start with a few of the questions that were submitted

and alternate with questions from folks here?

One of the questions we got is: Do you think published fiction does or could benefit from elements more normally found in fanfiction?

Do you each want to have a crack at that?

*Cecilia T.
Sure. Same order?

*Francesca C.
yeah, that’s easiest

puts Cecilia on the spot 😀

*Cecilia T.
I do wonder what they mean by elements — I think I’ve got most of the same elements of emotional arc, eroticism, and fantasy in my pro writing as I do in my fic. But I often think pro publishing could use with adopting some things like warnings/enticements. If only there were a way to make the warnings optionally visible/invisible on printed books!

No one has to slash my characters or queer them because they’re already queer, usually. 🙂

*Racheline
Yes, yes, yes! Being in the romance space, I see that space fighting battles we resolved in fandom ages ago. Some presses and review sites still rate books with queer content as more adult than books with only cisgendered M/F content. And I’m like we’re still doing this? Really? So there’s a lot of cultural stuff I think the world of pro writing could learn from fan culture.

I also think there’s this trend towards serialized writing that is popular because of how it drives sales, but you know who does serialization fantastically? Fandom. Because we learned it from being TV fans. And I think pro writing that isn’t screen-based has a lot to learn from some of us in that regard.

*Tara S.
I know for me, I felt more freedom in fanfic and I do think sometimes I feel limited when I’m writing something for publication.

There are sometimes things I’d do in fanfic (even silly things) I think would never translate well in published fic. Who knows? Maybe it would.

*Cecilia T.
Oooh, yes yes yes about serials. I wrote two online serials after my experiences both writing and being addicted to various fanfic WIPs. I wrote The Prince’s Boy to see if I could create that same addictive experience using original settings and characters. And Daron’s Guitar Chronicles is still ongoing. It’s been running ever since 2009 and still going strong.

*Racheline
Tara, that’s so interesting, because I definitely started writing published romance because of things I felt like fandom wasn’t responsive too that I wanted to explore.

*Cecilia T.
I know what you mean about silly things we do in fandom though. And there are things you can do when your fandom has a common language and conventions.

*Francesca C.
I’m interested in the fact that both Cecilia and Tara talked about warnings/ratings/enticements – I was asked to give a talk at the Midwestern Archivists association about the AO3’s tagging system, and we really understand metadata when it comes to story content.

I think you are right that mainstream publishing – and other mainstream venues–have a lot to learn from fandom when it comes to warnings, advertising, tags, and all that

*Francesca C.
All of you-right? All of you have written serials?

*Racheline
I definitely do warnings posts when I promote my work in fan spaces. In non-fan spaces people tend to be a little boggled.

I’m currently doing two series one for Torquere (book 2 just came out) and one for Dreamspinner that starts later this year. I’m also involved in a project I can’t really talk about yet that’s about delivering serialized narratives from writers you may already know and love. You’ll hear more this summer.

*Francesca C.
Let me give one more question from the list and then we’ll maybe solicit a few from the present audience,

Question: How do you recommend taking a story from a fanwork to a story that can be published? How different does it need to be from the fandom in order to decrease the likelihood of the original work trying to prevent publication?

*Cecilia T.
With Harry Potter I’ve never been able to file the serial numbers off. The magic and the things inherent to that world that make the stories interesting can’t be excised. But I did file the numbers off an Alan Rickman/Jason Isaacs piece I wrote that had Harry Potter elements. I had to change the movie set to a different movie and make it more of a satire of Wizard World. I’ve filed the numbers off a Hikaru no Go fic also, moved it from Tokyo to New York and changed it from the game of Go to chess. But mostly I’m not even tempted to. Fic is fic and I want to keep it that way.

The Rickman/Isaacs story was for an anthology called “I Kissed a Boy” and the editor specifically requested it. 🙂

*Racheline
I didn’t really encounter this, because my original stuff doesn’t come directly from media properties. Rather, I decided I wanted to write backstage stories about how film and television are made and people falling in love in that context, because of some of the misunderstandings I saw out there in fandom. But I think you write or transform something into original fiction the way you write anything. You ask questions. You say “What if?” You keep changing that what if until you hit on something that really turns your crank and maybe you’ve never seen before. And then you tell the story.

Small changes cascade quickly, but they should be changes that mean something. Just filing the serial numbers off isn’t really that fun as a writer or reader.

*Tara S.
To be honest, if you’re wanting to get your work published, I don’t recommend posting it as fan fiction. I know that comes across a bit contradictory, but there are several reasons why:

The works that got published from the TWILIGHT fandom (MOTU/Fifty Shades, The Office/Beautiful Bastard, UoEM/Gabriel’s Inferno, and my own three Submissive Books, to name a few) were vastly different from the original work. There were no sparkling vampires, no mind reading, no werewolves, etc. Everyone was fully human and no one was in high school.

These works were a very small subset of TWILIGHT fan fiction. They were all erotic in nature, mostly dealt with wealthy men, and a good number had BDSM elements.

There have been many cases where an author’s fan fiction was picked up by a publisher, but ended up not selling well and those authors were unable to get another contract. (Granted, this could happen with ANY book).

In my opinion, your best bet is to write the work want to get published as original (and either self publish or query) and write your fan fiction for the joy of writing fan fiction.

*Cecilia T.
I agree. For the most part for me the joy of fic is that it *isn’t* pro work.

*Racheline
I don’t honestly even think of fic as writing. To me it’s more like acting, like reinterpreting Shakespeare. It’s inhabiting characters in different given circumstances.

*Francesca C.
I want to take mod’s discretion and ask each of you a specific follow up! 😛

I’ll give the three questions an then circle up and around

Cecilia: Can you talk more about what you mean by “fic is fic and I want to keep it that way?

Racheline: Could you talk more about the incremental transformations – because I think this is how a lot of mainstream creativity happens (the The Godfather meets Star Wars) type model?

Tara: Wasn’t there something special and, like, productive/competitive in that small part of Twilight though? Doesn’t fandom provide distinct points of inspiration—not just by canon but other fans and fanworks?

so C, go first?

By Fic you mean fanfic, yes?

*Cecilia T.
Yes, fic=fanfic. I started writing so much fanfic in 2006-2007 because I was at a place in my pro career where I was in a slump, things weren’t selling, and I needed something to make writing fun and exciting again!

There’s a way in which you could say I fell in love with writing all over again because of fanfic. Fanfic doesn’t feel like work.

And because for me in Harry Potter it really didn’t translate into professional work directly, it was self-contained — it’s it’s own community and its own world separate from “work” writing. The benefit was though that now I have written professional work that feels to me as fun and vibrant as my fanfic did. Partly because a lot of the friends I made in fandom moved over to supporting my pro work, too. And some of my pro work then was written with them in mind, not only The Prince’s Boy (which can be read as a Harry/Draco high fantasy AU if you squint hard…) but also my Magic University novels, which are pretty obviously a commentary on the Potter books.

But when I sit down to write for a fanfic fest, which I still do once or twice a year, it’s very much a separate thing from my pro writing.

*Racheline
Well, here’s an example of something in Harry Potter that inspired a backburner project of mine. If you write down all the named characters in HP, there are more boys that girls. Why? HP doesn’t tell us. Let’s come up with a reason that’s internal to the story. Maybe there’s something wrong with magic? Maybe it costs us something? Why? Why do we do about it? How does that effect a society over three generations? Or thirty? What mythology does a society start about it? How does this effect family structure? Inheritance laws? The value of women? The practice of magical for casual needs? The development of technology? Is there or is there not an industrial revolution? Answer those questions and you’ve just built a world because you love HP that has nothing to do with HP. And if we all do that exercise; we’ll all write radically different books.

*Cecilia T.
(Exactly!! *loves Racheline*)

*Francesca C.
(Me too!)

*Racheline
I think Cecilia is also right on about how work can comment on what you love. My series with Torquere is about someone who becomes unexpectedly famous. But he’s an introvert and kind of hates it. There’s a little bit of Katniss Everdeen in his DNA, because he is surly about it. But that’s dialogue with texts that also talk about fame, not fanfiction. But people who are fans can enjoy that wink in the direction of Hunger Games.

*Tara S.
Oh, I definitely think fan works provide inspiration. I think we can find inspiration everywhere, so it’s natural we’ll find it in fandoms. That’s one of the great things about the fanfic community – the creativity. And like I mentioned before, I think we allow ourselves a certain freedom we wouldn’t otherwise allow. I wrote a m/m fanfic because of others I’d read. And though I hope to one day write a m/m for publication, I haven’t yet.

As for competition, it was definitely present in the Twi fandom. I haven’t been part of other randoms, is it not found there?

*Francesca C.
Thank you guys so much! Should we take a question from the group–anyone here want to raise a hand?

We’ll take a couple in order

*Racheline
I’m in the weird position of gravitating towards fandoms about ambition, Tara. It’s certainly there in Glee. It’s lurking around the edges in Vikings and House of Cards. So yeah, competition is this vibe in fandom sometimes.

Soprano R.
I actually have three questions, but I can ask the prominent one, if not.

They all kinda play on each other, really. Is that okay?

*Cecilia T.
Soprano I’d say give it a go with the first one and see where it goes from there?

Soprano R.
Oh, okey-dokey!

*Cecilia T.
You might find your other questions get answered along the way anyway.

Soprano R.
Well, my first question is “How can I get more exposure for my writing?”

*Cecilia T.
Fanfic or pro writing?

Soprano R.
I’ve been writing for 10+ years, and I’m an aspiring pro-author.

I wanna go pro.

Right now, I’m writing fanfics and I feel sorta invisible…

Any tips?

*Cecilia T.
Exposure is something you seek for your writing *after* you get published. When you’re trying to get a publisher initially, it’s OK to be invisible because it’s mostly happening in the backstage area of publishing. Yes, there are people who do it now by self-publishing and building up an audience through their sales, but it’s a relatively new way to do it, still.

For those who want to build up a fanfic reading audience and try to bring that audience with them when they go pro, I think it really depends on the fandom. Different fandoms have different spaces where they hang out. Ultimately the most important thing is that the writing be strong and that it speaks to people.

*Francesca C.
others-thoughts about exposure?

*Racheline
So, go pro. Write fanfiction because you love it, not as an audition. Write your original fiction and submit it to publishers or agents. There’s this mythology we all have about getting chosen, about being the girl discovered in a diner and made a star. And look, weirder things have happened, as a lot of us can attest to, but you have to make your own opportunities. Saying I have some degree of a fan following probably made it a little easier to pitch some of my work to publishers, because it meant I came with a sales base. It also means I sometimes get invited to do things, because people know my work — both fan and pro. But you have to take the things you want. You have to believe in yourself and just sort of devour the world.

Whatever your social media, whatever you’re promoting, don’t just promote. No one cares, and everyone is exhausted by adertising. No more than 30% promotion. Talk to people, give us a window into your life. Making people interested in you as a writer — not just your stories — goes a long way, fan or pro.

*Tara S.

I don’t recommend using fanfic to go pro.

My advice would be to write something original if you want to go pro and keep it separate from fanfic. There’s no reason you have to have visibility with fanfic if you want to go pro. Your agent/editor isn’t going to worry about your fanfic visibility.

*Cecilia T.
*nods*

*Tara S.
Tell a good story. Write well. The rest will follow.

*Racheline
No, but your agent or editor may care that you have a blog with x-thousand followers. That was my experience.

*Francesca C.
Soprano, you want to ask a follow up? or others, want to raise hands? also–yes

authors, feel free to respond to each other, just signal when you’re done

*Cecilia T.
Yes, but it’s much more usual to get those thousand followers to your blog after you’re published rather than before.

Soprano R.
Awesome. I’m totally taking notes as I read this. So sorry if I’m a bit slow. I’m super-serious about this, you already know.

*Cecilia T.
Don’t feel like you have to have them first before you go pro.

*Racheline
True. I was user like 300 on LJ. My story is weird. (done)

*Francesca C.
Eliza – I see you, you’re up!

*Cecilia T.
🙂

*Francesca C.
(Soprano, just raise hand again when/if you want to later)

Eliza
do you guys do strict editing before you send to publishers?

*Racheline
Yes. ALWAYS. I do a lot of work with my co-author who I also met in fandom. The extra set of eyes helps, but we also have first readers who we work with on story structure notes. Always send the absolutely cleanest manuscript you can. It’ll never be perfect, and that’s okay. But get it right. “Ugh, the editor will deal with that” is only allowed when you’re deep in a series with the same publisher, and you drop your editor a note for her thoughts when you get hung up on something in this project you’ve both had a long term commitment to.

*Tara S.
I want anything I send to my editor to be as clean as I can make it.

*Cecilia T.
When I’m pitching something to get a new publisher or submitting a short story I try to make sure it’s as clean as a whistle. I use beta-readers and I do a lot of re-reading. But when a novel is already under contract and the big New York publisher is demanding it on a certain date, i admit sometimes things are still in somewhat more of a “first draft” form. Still pretty clean but maybe still some loose bits editorially, because I know the editor is going to put it through a round of rewriting with me, and THEN a more polished draft will go through two layers of copyediting and proofreading there.

Eliza
thanks

*Cecilia T.
But having been a professional writer and editor for over 20 years, my idea of “a little loose” is possibly still tighter and cleaner than other people’s polished drafts. 🙂

*Francesca C.
This is a very specific question, don’t know if you guys know the answer

but will take from list

How do I get in touch with book/manga publishers without being scammed?

anybody able to speak to that?

(Meanwhile, again, audience, do raise your hands – we’ll come back to you next)

*Cecilia T.
Hm, I don’t know anything about the manga publishing world. In the English book publishing world, check out the ratings that publishers have on sites like Writers Beware. And run from ANYWHERE that wants YOU the author to pay for anything.

algonquin
(I can raise hand to answer that if the authors don’t have anything)

*Racheline
Not my genre, but sites like Absolute Write and Preditors & Editors are great for finding out scuttlebutt about presses and best contract policies any why you should or should not balk at certain common contract terms. And like Ceclia says, to do pay to play unless you are being an entrepreneur who has chosen to go the indie/self-publishing route.

*Cecilia T.
Link for Writer Beware: www.sfwa.org/other-resources/for-authors/writer-beware/

prof_anne
Hi, I just wanted to let people know that the course I’m teaching on fanfic at Princeton (several folks here on syllabus) is as public as I can make it. Most of the readings will be public except where copyright is a problem. There will be a blog where we talk about what’s going on in class, and we’ll be discussing fan-creator and pro/fic issues.

*Racheline
DO NOT pay to play, rather.

*Tara S.
And if they aren’t on Absolute Write, google {company name] warnings.

*Cecilia T.
prof_anne: COOL!!!!

*Francesca C.
Algonquin, want to add?

on the question of how not to be scammed by a press?

or how to find one?

algonquin
In addition to the sites the others listed, RESEARCH EVERYTHING. One of the most common things authors do is to want everything to be fast, fast, fast. Comics/manga industry and book publishing are super-slow.

Soprano R.
That last question about manga publishers was mine, actually~

prof_anne
Also, FWIW, agents/pubs don’t really care about fic unless your read counts are in the multiple millions.

*Cecilia T.
yep.

*Francesca C.
other questions–any hands?

algonquin
The best thing you can do is to get out there, follow authors/illustrators in your genre, and learn from them. There are great comics/manga folk who are on Twitter and offer a TON of advice.

*Francesca C.
Bjorg! you have the floor

Bjørg J.
Thanks

This is from a discussion I had about plagiarism. The discussion was really about plagiarism between fics, but during it someone mentioned that Neil Gaiman refuses to read fanfic because he doesn’t want to be accused of plagiarising an idea from a fic and the legal hassle that’ll cause and I know Marion Zimmer Bradley got badly burned from the crossing between the fanfic world and her original fiction. SO my question is, how do you handle this problem?

*Francesca C.
obligatory citation of the MZB fanfic controversy which is more complicated than it first may appear: http://fanlore.org/wiki/Marion_Zimmer_Bradley_Fanfiction_Controversy

(backs out of convo again)

*Racheline
I don’t read fic about my work, but not for that reasons. Like book reviews are for readers, fandom is for fans. There are lots of ways I have my foot in both worlds. And I’ll excitedly reblog fanart about my work. But fic is a form of commentary and as an author I’m often not wanted in that conversation. So my general plan is to stay away from fic. I love that it’s there. And I love the OTW guidance about it. But mostly, I want my worlds to live and breathe without me.

That said, huge parts of the Doctor Who writers room is now made up of people who used to write DW fanfic. We do need to get more used to the muddy overlap.

*Cecilia T.
The OTW solved this question for me!

In a nutshell, here’s what Rebecca Tushnet, a lawyer who is involved with the OTW told me:

If you’re not reading fanfic because you’re afraid that some fan may sue you for using their ideas in your pro work and a frivolous lawsuit would bankrupt you/break your relationship with your publisher, then you ALSO have to stop reading your fan mail, comments on your blog, your twitter feed, etc. Singling out fanfic as the source of danger makes no sense bc one of these frivolous suits could come from any communication with a fan.

Now if you have other reasons for not wanting to read it, like it will mess with your muse, then don’t feelobligated to do it of course. But there’s no compelling legal reason not to read it.

So now I read it when people write fanfic in my universes and I encourage them to. (I also tell them if they don’t want me to read it, mark it or tell me and I promise I won’t.)

prof_anne
*applauds getting used to the muddy overlap*

*Francesca C.
Tara, any thoughts?

*Tara S.
I don’t think I can add anything to what Cecilia and Racheline said.

*Francesca C.
other hands then?

it’s 1 hour 21 min in so want to make sure questions here get answer–Waltz!

you have the floor!

Waltz
thanks!

Bjørg J.
Thank you for your answers, the person in the discussion made it out as if it -was- a big deal, legally that is. I hope it’s okay for me to copy/paste this and show her?

*Cecilia T.
Sure.

*Racheline
aok

*Francesca C.
(There’ll also be a transcrupt Bjorg which you can c&p or send her to direct)

(transcrIPT)

Bjørg J.
Oh thanks.

Soprano R.
I have another question in regard to publishing. But I’ll wait till Waltz is done. ^_^

*Francesca C.
sanders you go after soprano 😀

waltz, soprano, sanders is the queue

Waltz
Earlier, there was the discussion of serial fiction, which is something I’ve been interested in pursuing for a while. I know that, in the past, serial (non-televised) fiction was more popular in the US, showing up in major publications and dramatized in radio, but it feels like that has fallen out of vogue. However, in places like Japan, where the light novel industry is going strong, serial written fiction is still pretty popular. My question is, where in the West do you think is a good platform, online or otherwise, for sharing and promotion original/non-fic serial written fiction? It seems like it could be hard to market, but I have yet to see an online platform that I felt was especially solid either.

*and promoting

*Cecilia T.
Wattpad seems to be the place that has the most eyeballs for serial writing.

It’s a mix here of some fanfic and some original, tons and tons of original.

A couple of other places have tried to get going, like Juke Pop Serials, but Wattpad is the one that really has critical mass right now. That’s all I can think of off the top of my head.

*Racheline
Riptide which publishes M/M fiction has had some very successful serials. And I can tell you you’re going to see something new in serial fiction in the SF/F space later this year. I think this is really something you’re going to see burst open and be popular again over the next couple of years on all sorts of platforms. Look at Serial on NPR. Look at podcasts like Nightvale.

*Cecilia T.
(I should add, actually, that it’s OK to post on Wattpad AND other places, like your own blog, and/or LiveJournal, Blogspot, etc.)

*Tara S.
Wattpad is the only platform I can think of.

*Francesca C.
Soprano – go for it!

Waltz
(I will definitely look more into Wattpad, thanks everyone!)

Soprano R.
Awesome, thanks!

I would like to know, once I get my manuscript written up, where and how should I look for publishers? Do they prefer electronic or physical copies? What process/steps should I take in this endeavor?

Three-point question. Heh heh…

*Cecilia T.
Each publisher has their own guidelines on how they like material submitted. You have to look up each one and then follow their instructions, typically.

Almost no one takes anything on paper anymore, though. it’s always some form of electronic.

*Racheline
This is going to be the most boring answer ever, but the answer is Read. Google. Read. Look into publishers who publish stuff you enjoy reading. Google, to see what their instructions are. Read the instructions. Follow them. And definitely, I can’t plug Absolute Write enough. There are also various organizations for various genres that you might find helpful — i.e., Romance Writers of America or Broad Universe (for women writing SF/F). But while this stuff can feel overwhelming. It’s not secret.

*Cecilia T.
But some want the whole manuscript, some want only the first three chapters and a synopsis–you go by what they each ask for. The guidelines are usually findable online. DON’T just randomly email the manuscript to every email address you can find. You’ll just get ignore.

*Tara S.
You will need an agent if you want to be published by Big 5. I suggest agentquery.com or querytracker.com to find appropriate agents. Again, NEVER pay an agent. Research them well. If you decide to approach publishers without an agent, NEVER sign anything without having it looked at by either an agent or a literary attorney. Yes, this will cost money, but it’s worth it in the long run. (done)

*Cecilia T.
Ditto what Tara said.

*Racheline
Yup. I would always recommend having a literary attorney or agent look over any contract. People sign all sorts of stuff they shouldn’t all the time.

*Cecilia T.
The hard part is that when you’re starting out you have to write a whole book FIRST before you can attract an agent or submit to a publisher. And then you find out that it isn’t what they’re looking for. But you have to do it first or no one will look at you because they don’t know ifyou can actually write a book. I’ll also mention that every now and then the Big 5 publishers in romance will have open calls for submissions, no agent necessary.

Forever Yours is the digital imprint of Forever/Grand Central/Hachette, the big publisher who did my Slow Surrender books. They are open right now for romance manuscripts, including m/m.

*Racheline
There are also a lot of agent/publisher pitching opportunities on Twitter. You have to have a finished manuscript for those. But Google PitchWars or Pitchmas. I know people who have found representation that way.

*Francesca C.
Sanders, you’re up!

anybody else with questions, raise hands and get into the queue

*Cecilia T.
(Here are the Forever Yours guidelines, by the way: https://www.facebook.com/ForeverRomance/app_190322544333196

sanders
I’ve a comment first, and then a question. Going back to the question of authors reading fanworks and the extensions to fan interaction, Cecilia really offers a great example of how that’s evolved in with a digital fanbase through Daron’s Guitar Chronicles. I’m an unabashed fangirl here, so grain of salt, but she keeps an open dialogue going with readers while being clear she’s got her own plan for the story (and will NOT spoil us, no matter how we beg, bribe, and cajole).

The question is completely separate: as you all, and I include FC in this, have roots in fandom, what are some fanworks you’d recommend to someone getting started in exploring those fandoms? You’ve named some of the mega-fandoms (Glee, and HP) and those are just plain daunting to dip a toe into, so where would you tell a newbie to start?

*Cecilia T.
I think the big divide in HP is between the erotic stuff and the gen/non-erotic stuff, and also between slash or het. So I’d want to know which quadrant to point people to as a starting place… but assuming like me people are looking for slashy erotic HP, then there are some “classics” to look at.

In fact, the easiest thing to do is point people at the “most popular” page on Skyehawke, on of the oldest of the fanfic archives that is still online. Many of the “big” HP slash classics are here: http://archive.skyehawke.com/popular.php

(done — apologies to everyone whose productivity I’ve just tanked for the next week)

*Francesca C.
Racheline, Tara, any thoughts about where to tell a newbie? I think Cecilia’s point about “which quadrant” is important.

*Tara S.
I’ve only had experience in the Twi fandom, but I think at its core a fandom is comprised of relationships. And people are basically the same everywhere. If you want to get involved, just strike up a conversation. I don’t actively write Twi fanfic anymore, but the relationships I made there are priceless.

*Francesca C.
I’m often looking for stories to teach to students who know little or nothing about fanfiction or fanworks.

*Racheline
I’m really wary of giving recommendations because so many stories are so different without their historical context — of how fandom was writing, how certain issues were addressed, what the issues were in a given fandom. Fandom moves at light speed. Anything written over a year ago can feel dated, which is okay, but I think is weird for new readers? In Glee, there’s a gorgeous fic by Wintercreek called “Singing the Journey” that caused more controversy than I think it should have for its examination of faith communities and atheism, but I love it to pieces. So that’s my off-the-top-of-my-head rec there. Also, if you’re into James Bond, “Slow Dancing in a Burning Room” which is new!Bond Bond/Q fic has moved me more than just about any piece in fandom in the last few years. Bot are on A03 I think.

(Both of those have sex, but fall way short of the level of explicitness fandom is legitimately and proudly capable of.)

*Francesca C.
I will say, with students, I’ve found it best not to use the most explicit fic if only because the whole conversation ends up being about Harry Potter’s penis.

*Racheline
Oh, Rainjoy also has this brilliant Glee fic that is a superhero AU that examines fame and fandom. And I’ve just blanked on the name. She’s on LJ though. (now I am done).

*Francesca C.
Not that this is a bad thing, but often you’re looking to emphasize some other transformational point.

*Cecilia T.
Fanfic can be hard to introduce people to unless they are also intimately familiar with the original work, I find. Unless it’s broad satire in which case maybe you don’t have to, say, know the Star Wars universe inside and out, you just have to know that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.

critterlady
question

*Francesca C.
critterlady, go ahead!

prof_anne
*raises hand*

*Francesca C.
(gotcha for after anne! also–*wave*)

critterlady
When writing fanfic, most my work has very little sex. However, I found myself writing a very explicit scene. Is it better to offer that as a regular scene and link to the explicit for the over 18?

Jess S.
may i ask a question after anne?

*Francesca C.
(Jess, yes, though we are coming up on time)

Kiki
Raises hand

*Racheline
You should do what you’re comfortable with and what you feel conforms to the laws where you are. The reality is that a huge number of teens in the US — where sex education is often poor — are getting their sex ed from fandom. Letting people know what they are getting into is always good though.

*Francesca C.
Tara or Cecilia–advice on explicit scenes in fic?

*Tara S.
No, nothing to add

*Francesca C.
I think with this panel, critterlady, we’re mostly for it. 😀

Anne–what’s your question?

*Cecilia T.
critterlady, I think it depends on your audience. My fanfic is all 18+ explicit, very erotically graphic, so I don’t know. I do have friends who post a PG=13 version to fanfic dot net because they have a huge readership there and then they post the X rated version to Livejournal and Archive of Our Own.

Just put the proper ratings on and everyone should be happy.

*Francesca C.
*moves us along so we get to all!*

prof_anne
I wondered what contexts you were introducing people to fic–for teaching, there are so many different reasons to teach it. Now I’m using Sherlock Holmes because everyone is somewhat familiar with it, but it is a constant conundrum…

*Francesca C.
Is that question for me?

LOL

Soprano R.
Wow, guys, thanks for your insight! This makes me wanna work even harder now! Thanks again, and see ya around~!

*Francesca C.
If it’s for me, I teach fic in a number of contexts: it might be if I’m teaching the source, or I do also do courses on remix etc. where fanfiction is itself the subject per se.

prof_anne
Yes, you or anyone else who introduces fic to people…

*Francesca C.
Anne–was it also for the panel?

prof_anne
yes

*Francesca C.
Panel, do you introduce people to fic and if so, in what contexts?

*Cecilia T.
For me it’s mostly friends or fans of my writing who find out I write Harry Potter fandom and they want me to recommend some for them to read. If they are into kinky erotica, I send them to my own fic first. 😉 But for more general people it is a conundrum on what to give them first. You want them to enjoy it and connect with it, so if you give them something that requires too much foreknowledge of either the original work OR the fanfic context and fandom in-jokes, etc. you risk them just scratching their head or being turned off.

In other words… I don’t know. (done) 🙂

*Racheline
I don’t feel like I’m really in that many contexts where people don’t know about it. There’s always a journalist that needs the primer though.

*Francesca C.
We have jess and Kiki

*Tara S.
Usually for me it’s when people ask about how I got published or if I’m talking about books with a friend and they bring up a book that was once fan fiction. I’m always surprised at how many people don’t know what fanfic is.

*Francesca C.
Oh, apologies Tara

thank you for answering!

Jess?

prof_anne
I want someone to do a youtube video on *how do I even fanfic* with AO3 screenshots

Jess S.
i was wondering about serials, i’ve never considered them before hearing about them in this chat. would it be easier when starting out to write the entire work first, if for example the serial was going to be released weekly? i know keeping to a schedule is always important in writing but if you were, say, writing as quickly as possible to get a chapter out on time, it might not be of the best quality

*Cecilia T.
I’m surprised I haven’t seen a Buzzfeed list of Top Twenty Fanfics to Read if You’re Not Into Fanfic Already.

*Racheline
(also apologies in advance, I am going to have to leave exactly at 2, but you can always follow up w/ me at my blog — Avian30.com)

*Francesca C.
Does it have to be good or does it have to be Thursday?

*Racheline
Jess — definitely write most of it first. Treat it like TV. Life happens. You want episodes in the can, and a clear plan/arc for your story.

*Cecilia T.
Jess, writing a serial is like walking a tightrope. You’re almost writing live in front of an audience and you can go backwards and edit and change things. So I LOVE writing serials because it’s a huge challenge, but it’s not for the faint of heart.

*Tara S.
When I wrote The Submissive, I wrote/posted a chapter a day M-F. It’s not a pace I recommend. I later went to once a week.

*Cecilia T.
CAN”T got back and change things, I mean.

*Francesca C.
That’s amazing, Tara.

*Cecilia T.
I wrote the Prince’s Boy with a chapter once a week. Never missed a day posting in two years, and I usually kept 2-4 chapters ahead.

*Francesca C.
Okay, I think last question–Kiki we’re going to squeeze you in here!

*Cecilia T.
But every so often I would get busy and I would end up writing a chapter the night before it posted!

Kiki
Are there publishers accepting f/f? Are there ones that do not accept f/f?

Jess S.
thanks guys

*Cecilia T.
Daron’s Guitar Chronicles posts twice a week.

Kiki, there are. Both Riptide Publishing and Riverdale Avenue Books do f/f.

And I shoudl mention Circlet Press, the small publishing house I run. Duh!

*Racheline
Kiki — yes, yes there are! Torquere also takes it. Supposed Crimes is new and dedicated to it. I have a list. Feel free to hit me up offline.

Dreamspinner takes it in their YA line.

*Francesca C.
Okay, it is 1:59

Kiki
Thank you.

*Francesca C.
which leaves me time to THANK THESE AMAZING PANELISTS

and to thank you

all for coming and listening and asking questions

*Racheline
Thank you! super fun! great questions everyone and sorry to run!

*Cecilia T.
woo! *more confetti*

*Francesca C.
Cecilia, Racheline, and Tara all have blogs and a million social media outlets

*Cecilia T.
Thank you for having us!

*Tara S.
Thank you so much, everyone!

Waltz
Thank you for sharing with us!

Eliza
Thanks, guys

sanders
Thanks for doing this, y’all.

Cate
Thanks!

critterlady
Thanks, looking forward to the transcript

One thought on “Transcript for “Why Fanworks Should Be Celebrated”

  1. You have to understand some of us who are original written content creators right out of the box — Fred Wiehe and I are very vocal about this; when you redefine what the fan spectrum is. True fans create original content not rip the fictional character the creators of who they are fans of are and do perversions with them.

    I made it a rule not to publish m/m or f/f oriented material as a Christian I don’t want to read it, I don’t want to publish it or see it — I had published a classmates Christian testimony who escaped from a lifestyle where he was graphic about what he did, and man one testimony like that was enough as it was because I got death threats from this spectrum about it. I was bullied badly by Fandom Wank and you have to understand why I tend to have my reserved of those who came from this territory — when they bitch about plagiarism they are in no room to talk because I had to deal with David Boyer first hand where he ripped fanworks and originals.

    Fanwriters really shouldn’t be celebrated over those who write originals but the Lovecraftian Horror spectrum is the exception to the rule because doing that kind of horror and delivery is a rite of passage as is doing Twilight Zone tinged horror if you can figure out the loop holes in that, Night Gallery, Tales From The Dark Side, Masters of Horror, and Are You Afraid Of The Dark if you know the loopholes you can get published from horror written in these fandoms; the key is don’t write slash of any kind and be well versed in the Lock and Key Library anthologies.

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