It started with a post on Teleread about an author who detests fanfic. In follow-up, there was another blog that took that and noted two more responses, which I responded to in comments. To copy my own comments, and then expand on them. With the mistakes corrected… I made the comment with my phone and only managed to make two errors! Anyways, what I thought:
I can only hope that one day my works are popular enough to spur fanfic. It’s actually one of my goals as an author to have others create side stories and ideas that expand on my own. I believe in the power of publicity, and fanfic is just another version of it. After all, a fanfic writer is someone that has purchased your work; a fanfic reader is someone who might go purchase the original to find out more.
I’m undecided on whether we should profit off fanfic, meaning both the fan or the original author, but that’s something that really doesn’t matter until a fanfic brings in actual profit. If it doesn’t cannibalize sales (and it would take a lot of evidence for me to ever believe it does anything but promote an author’s work) then it should be allowed. Of course, I’ve read fanfics in the past an enjoyed them, so maybe I’m biased.
And to continue, now. I read and watch a lot of Japanese works, mostly anime and manga. There is another form of work called doujinshi. The actual definition is a clique or group, but it’s used to mean an amateur self-published work. And there are millions that are fanfics of known anime/manga, etc. And they are also profitable. Some are so terrible that no self-respecting author would be caught dead with one. And other’s are amazing. They can happen within another story, keep the continuity, and provide an insight the author never thought of that still could be true. Or they can concentrate on some minor characters and flesh out their story, something an author wouldn’t spend their time on. They are fanfic.
I like my characters. I like my work. Granted, they are mine. They will always be mine. But if someone sees them, loves them, and wants to create a story I haven’t thought of, I’d be interested in knowing. If it’s true to canon, I could use it. If not, then the fan has written their own selfishness. And writing is selfish. It’s very, very selfish. We write what we want, not what others want (most of us; no offense to ghostwriters), and control that environment we create. The world that only exists inside our heads. And to hear a fan wants to get inside and spray paint on that world makes some authors shudder.
A character is always inside a person’s head. Each person has their own version of any character, period. Several great authors only described a character with a couple words. Old man. Tall man. Pretty woman. A great dame. A gentleman wearing a fedora. I saw a few different people from each entry. And a hundred different people would give you a different description of that exact same person. Each person already owns a version of the character that started with a single author. Controlling that impression is impossible. The author is the canon, but that doesn’t mean non-canon works should be burned.
So I endorse, to a certain point, fanfic. I wouldn’t say to not write it. I’m much more cautious about profiting from it, though. As an original author, we have rights to our characters. So… 10% or 15%, right off the top. Must be discussed beforehand. Any free work must disclose the original work, allude to it’s greatness, and then provide proper attribution and links back to the original author’s creations. Ain’t I generous? This is in jest. But seriously, fans are great. They are my customers. If they love something enough to write about it, isn’t that good?
671 words that could have been used in a novel or possibly a fanfic!