OTW Fannews: The Year in Fanfiction

  • The significance of Fifty Shades of Grey ‘s success in 2012 in expanding discussions of fanficion online and in the media continues to be overlooked in its overall coverage, as in this piece in The Guardian. Citing E.L. James’ selection as Person of the Year by Publishers Weekly, the author notes the importance of the book for print sales and erotica. Yet the book was an online sensation that was converted to print, and erotica sales have suffered from a lack of industry promotion rather than a lack of content. A comment to the article points out issues absent from the discussion: “[I]t might be wise for the major publishing houses to hire someone to peruse the fan-fic world in order to get an indication of where reader-trends are heading…They’re still just reacting and recycling, and patting themselves on the back when they stumble across a cash cow.” Indeed one might go further and point out that the real People of the Year should have been the fannish founders of James’ first publishing house, which had been created to push fanfiction to the general public.
  • The Guardian article did provide food for thought in some statistics: “The award comes as analysis of James’s readers shows that – despite the ‘mummy porn’ moniker that has been applied to her erotic novels – 30% of her buyers are actually men. Just 35% of her readers are women with kids at home, according to Bowker Market Research’s analysis of UK readers, with 13% bought for those over 55. Bizarrely, 1% of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy was bought as a present for a parent, while 2% of buyers categorised their purchases as for ‘reference’, ‘study’ or ‘self-help’.” One wonders what this might say about the demographics of fanfic readership?
  • The year’s end has also brought a hilariously “infinite mirrors” news story in which Universal Studios sues a porn company for violating its copyright by producing an overly exact version of Fifty Shades, itself a pornier version of Twilight. Ironic fanfics are probably on the way.
  • While many have mocked the literary quality of Fifty Shades, it’s a lot easier to ignore the critics when your financial success extends to earning every employee in your publishing house a $5K bonus. It’s a lot harder when the average fan gets their work mocked by everyone from major media productions to specialty blogs and by every lazy writer looking for an easy target. Which is why it was rather refreshing to see the decision made by io9 to cancel further posts in which writer Robert Bricken takes apart fanfiction.
  • Taking it a step further, general Internet news site The Daily Dot launched a regular feature with recommendations for fanfiction, written by contributor (and OTW staffer) Aja Romano.

If you have your own stories about the history of fanfiction, why not share them on Fanlore? Contributions are welcome from all fans.

We want your suggestions! If you know of an essay, video, article, podcast, or link you think we should know about, comment on the most recent OTW Fannews post. Links are welcome in all languages! Submitting a link doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a roundup post, and inclusion of a link doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.

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