I recently spoke with another writer who is deeply involved with the publishing/marketing industry. One of the topics we touched on had to do with the trend 50 Shades of Grey has created: agents seeking potential money makers through fanfiction. Vanity Fair published the following article talking about how the title, and others like it, are dominating the literary scene. The article pissed me off on varying levels. I believe fanfic should stay within the confines of fandom. Making a buck off someone’s creation is wrong, not to mention lazy. As a fic writer myself, I do it for fun and love of the fandom. ‘Filing off the serial numbers’ of my Final Fantasy 7 fic doesn’t change the fact that it’s a story about Sephiroth getting romantically involved with an original character of mine.
The article also mentions how agents and publishers are ‘scouring fanfiction sites’ for potential sales, citing that really popular ones have the best chance on becoming the next Big Thing. These guys see dollar signs and nothing else. Many writers struggle with doubts and fears over their projects. Knowing some ficcer can turn a huge profit because the literary masters at fanfiction sites laud their accomplishments with ‘omg awesome story’ and ‘BEST THINHG EVER U R GOOD’ is devastating. It mocks all the hard work we’ve put into our projects. I wouldn’t be surprised if it forced some of us to close up shop, or worse, hop on the bandwagon.
My advice to fellow writers is this: DON’T. Stick to your guns. Shop your story/stories, venture into self publishing (genre fiction such as fantasy and sci-fi do very well, I hear) but do not, I repeat do NOT, give in to the temptation. You’re better than that. Your project deserves better than that.
Crushable.com also posted the following article in 2012 that reiterates a lot of what I’ve said, and then some. There’s also one about how E.L. James hates the Twilight fandom despite their hand in her success. If I were Stephanie Meyer, I would be looking for some compensation for the assist. Well, if she already hasn’t, that is.