Well, hello there. Wait…that’s not Danny! It’s me—Heather, and I’m hijacking Danny’s usual discussion post since she’s on vacation to talk about something that has been on my mind for a while.
You’ve all heard about the Fifty Shades Trilogy, which started out as Twilight fan fiction before getting the serial numbers filed off, and out it comes as an e-book with The Writer’s Coffee Shop as publisher. After being picked up by a division of Random House, those books are everywhere.
I know it’s a controversial subject, and I’m going to ignore the entire concept of whether it’s right or wrong to publish something that may or may not be considered a derivative work. That’s an entirely different can of worms that many other people have covered much more eloquently than I can even hope to accomplish. I have several questions for you, dear readers, but first I’ll give you a little bit of insight into my dilemma.
I’ve been a reader of fan fiction—mainly Twilight, but now I’ve branched out into the Hunger Games, Supernatural, the Vampire Diaries, and Teen Wolf—since 2009. Many brilliant authors have come and gone in the fandom in those three years, and there have been a ton of stories that were great, but only a handful blew up and became fandom superstars. But some authors started to pull their fan fictions off of sites like fanfiction.net with the purpose of reworking them to publish their stories. And that’s when Master of the Universe became the Fifty Shades Trilogy and The University of Edward Masen became Gabriel’s Inferno, just to name a few of the more widely known. There were others before these, and there have been a lot more after too. Google is your friend if you’re curious, and Goodreads too.
So I have no desire to buy these books that have been pulled to publish as original fiction if I have already read them as they were published chapter by chapter as fan fiction for free on fanfiction.net. Gabriel’s Inferno and Gabriel’s Rapture? Read it as The University of Edward Masen when it was being posted weekly, and it was one of those fics that I wanted to read right away when I got that update alert in my inbox. Sure, I loved it at the time, but I’m certainly not going to buy the books since I’ve already read the original version.
I won a copy of a book through Goodreads that was pulled to publish, and I didn’t know this when I entered the contest. It was a pulled to publish fic that was posted before I started to read Twilight fan fiction, so I’d never had a chance to read the all human, alternate universe original. I do intend to eventually read and review this book since I won a signed copy from the author. There’s another book that I didn’t get a chance to read before it was pulled because the author was publishing it with a smaller press. I was able to get a copy from the publisher when they were giving away books as part of a celebration of some sort, and again, I’d like to review it. I have read a few other fan fiction works by this author, so I already know that I love her writing style and sense of humor. My main question is: if I were to review these books, do I mention that these were formerly fan fiction? If you look through the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon, there are some reviews that do mention this fact. Am I doing a disservice to our readers by not mentioning this or does it even matter?
There was another Twilight fan fiction author that I absolutely love that wrote a romantic comedy. At the end of the fic, she promised to write a sequel, but first she was going to write something completely different—a thriller/action fan fiction. After this second genre fic was finished and posted (which I enjoyed immensely), she pulled both of the stories and started to self-publish them all as multi-book series. I would love to continue the comedy series and I’d happily pay the price she’s asking for the e-books, but are books two and three completely new material? I’m totally going to need a glossary or something so I can figure out who’s who with all of the name changing going on. It’s hard to tell from the reviews on Goodreads and Amazon if book one is any different from the fan fiction or not. See my dilemma? I’d like to support her, but I’m a bit reluctant to dive in.
I know that some bloggers and readers automatically dismiss a book if they see that it was a former fan fiction that was transformed to make it look like an original work, but there are some very talented writers out there that deserve to be read by a wider audience than just the niche of their fandom. Whether or not doing so with their reworked fan fiction or a completely original piece of fiction is the best way is a hotly argued topic both inside and outside of the fan fiction community–by authors and readers alike. There are a handful of fan fiction authors that I will read whatever they write, be it more fan fiction or original fiction.
So my questions to you are:
- Do you automatically blacklist books that have been pulled to publish fan fiction?
- Do you refuse to review books that are pulled to publish fan fiction?
- Does it matter if the book is self-published or has picked up by one of the big publishers (like Fifty Shades, Gabriel’s Inferno, Beautiful Bastard–formerly The Office)?
- If you were to review one of these books, would you mention that you knew it was formerly a fan fiction?
- Do you read fan fiction?
I can’t wait to see what you think…