Indie Publisher Kickstarting Fan Fiction Novelists

Indie Publisher Kickstarting Fan Fiction Novelists

Big Bang Press

Big Bang Press is raising funds to publish three original novels penned by fan fiction writers.

Generally speaking, if you create something with characters or even vague hints of a plot, you can count on someone writing fan fiction based on it. Just looking at the videogame section of some dedicated fan fiction sites will yield a wealth of content based on properties you would never imagine inspiring a narrative. A lot of it isn't very good. You will, however, occasionally find gems of content hiding among the multitude of alternate Mass Effect endings and "what if Batman dated the Joker" stories. It's these quality writers that Big Bang Press is trying to find.

Hoping to deliver "original fiction for an original audience," Big Bang Press is an indie book publisher based in the United States and the UK that, according to its website, aims to "[represent] emerging talent from the fan writing community." Inspired by the "difficulties many amateur writers face when trying to make the leap to professional writing," the company has recently launched a Kickstarter seeking $40,000 to fund the publication of three original novels written by authors pulled from the world of fanfiction. "If you take a look at some excerpts from their manuscripts, you'll be able to tell that these guys are the real deal," says its Kickstarter page. "We want to be able to share their work with the world, and prove that fanfiction writers can be as good as (or even better than) many successful mainstream published novelists."

It's a sentiment that some, at least, would agree with. With 25 days left to go in its campaign, Big Bang Press has already raised almost $15,000. While that's still a ways away from its final goal, it's nonetheless some considerable cash and, with fan fiction being so widespread, there's still a large pool of potential contributors. Just personally, I can see the merits of this idea. While it's easy to roll your eyes, especially considering some of the other works born from fan fiction, you can't really hold it against someone with their own ideas just because they got their start writing an epic narrative starring the cast of DDR. Hopefully, with the support being offered by publishers like Big Bang Press the transition be fan writer and professional author will be made a bit easier for some.

Source: Kickstarter

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Fanfiction culture is an abomination created by the copyright industry, and it's arrogant claim on censoring all creativity that it's arbitrary regulations deem "unoriginal", forcing them into an unofficial "pirate" status with no chance for professional advancement but only "underground" distribution, instead of just letting it be what it is; art.

Of course most fanfictions are amateurishly written, if all the more talented writers have to get dragged away by offers like this one to the "original" fiction (emphasis on quote-unquote) scene, just to actually be allowed publish their stories, instead of writing about whatever themes they are the best at and the most involved in.

Well, at least there are still a few gems that keep coming from those of the talented ones who have enough commitment to spend years of their labor even on a subject that they know they can never publish thanks to copyright.

Fan fiction has it's place, and that's not among published works. It's long form water-cooler chat. "Wouldn't it be cool if...?" "Ah, I wish I lived in that world, I'd be awesome and talented, and everyone would love me, and I'd date Garrus..."

If any of the gems were really worth reading they'd have been scooped up by the publisher.

On the other hand, a Twilight fan fic was a New York Times Best Seller and has a major movie deal in the works, so what the fuck do I know?

I'm an amateur writer and I personally don't "get" fanfiction. When I write a story, I want to be able to control all aspects. The idea of having to adhere to an existing world with existing characters is quote annoying. I am absolutely not above "being inspired by" (read: "completely ripping off") stories, settings and characters I like! But by not actually making my stories fanfiction, I'm free to tell whatever story I want to.

That said, other people seem to get a lot out of fanfiction (both reading and writing). So meh, why not.

Also...

Inspired by the "difficulties many amateur writers face when trying to make the leap to professional writing," the company has recently launched a Kickstarter seeking $40,000 to fund the publication of three original novels written by authors pulled from the world of fanfiction.

Hey! I'm an amateur writer facing difficulties trying to make the leap to professional writing! Where's the Kickstarter for non-fanfic writers?

*shakes fist at the cruel world*

Capcha: Which is hardest? A) writing a best-selling novel, B) writing a grocery list, C) staring at a paper...

Mcoffey:

If any of the gems were really worth reading they'd have been scooped up by the publisher.

On the other hand, a Twilight fan fic was a New York Times Best Seller and has a major movie deal in the works, so what the fuck do I know?

If anything, these two points contradict each other pretty well. No matter how well-received Master of the Universe could have become, Stephanie Meyer wouldn't have ever acknowledged it, given that she just wrote a work with an extremely conservative view on sexuality, with abstinance 'till marriage, while MotU was all about the BDSM.

That's why no actual fanfiction could actually get published, yet the "original Novel" Fifty Shades of Grey could. Not that either MotU, or 50 had much to do with Twilight's plots, characterizations, or worldbuilding, beyond the former sharing some character names with it.

MetalMagpie:
I'm an amateur writer and I personally don't "get" fanfiction. When I write a story, I want to be able to control all aspects. The idea of having to adhere to an existing world with existing characters is quote annoying.

That's a strange complaint, given that you are creatively far more restricted if you decide to write bublishable "original" fiction, and force yourself to follow all copyright law, than if you just freely post a story online without any care about what is and isn't Fair Use.

After all, it's not like all fanfiction has a rule about how they must be "at least THIS show accurate". Fanfic writers can do crossovers (Game of thrones but with PONIES!), or Alternate Universe reimaginations (Harry Potter but with SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY and intelligent characters), or Elsewhere stories (Like the Alexandra Quick books, about a teenage witch's life in an American school, a decade after Voldemort's defeat), or like in the above Twilight/Master of the Universe/Fifty Shades of Grey example, entirely reworking setting beyond formally throwing around a few familiar names for brand recognition.

Entitled:

MetalMagpie:
I'm an amateur writer and I personally don't "get" fanfiction. When I write a story, I want to be able to control all aspects. The idea of having to adhere to an existing world with existing characters is quote annoying.

That's a strange complaint, given that you are creatively far more restricted if you decide to write bublishable "original" fiction, and force yourself to follow all copyright law, than if you just freely post a story online without any care about what is and isn't Fair Use.

After all, it's not like all fanfiction has a rule about how they must be "at least THIS show accurate". Fanfic writers can do crossovers (Game of thrones but with PONIES!), or Alternate Universe reimaginations (Harry Potter but with SCIENTIFIC ACCURACY and intelligent characters), or Elsewhere stories (Like the Alexandra Quick books, about a teenage witch's life in an American school, a decade after Voldemort's defeat), or like in the above Twilight/Master of the Universe/Fifty Shades of Grey example, entirely reworking setting beyond formally throwing around a few familiar names for brand recognition.

I do freely post stories online without any care about what is and isn't Fair Use! I just don't write "Star Trek" stories. Instead I write stories about people exploring the galaxy in a starship. "Throwing around a few familiar names for brand recognition" feels like a cheap marketing ploy. (Besides, making up names is one of the fun bits.)

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't like the idea of tying myself down to an existing IP/brand (or even multiple existing IPs/brands) when writing gives me total creative freedom to write exactly what I want to. And I don't really want to annoy/disappoint people by leading them to expect something they're not going to get. And there's the whole "you haven't portrayed that character right" or "ew! that couple would never happen!" drama.

I guess the old "I want people to read my stuff because it's good, not because they'll read anything about Star Trek" self-preening goes somewhere in there too. ;)

MetalMagpie:
"Throwing around a few familiar names for brand recognition" feels like a cheap marketing ploy. (Besides, making up names is one of the fun bits.)

I don't know, to me, ripping off a setting's basic idea, and then sticking new names to it seems more like a cheap attempt at fake originality. If you had a great idea about new space exploring protagonists, while watching Star Trek, you might as well be honest and write it as the stories of a new crew in the Star Trek werse, without giving a new name to the parts that you didn't intend to reimagine anyways. (the background empires, the techbabble, etc.)

MetalMagpie:
I don't really want to annoy/disappoint people by leading them to expect something they're not going to get. And there's the whole "you haven't portrayed that character right" or "ew! that couple would never happen!" drama.

I guess the old "I want people to read my stuff because it's good, not because they'll read anything about Star Trek" self-preening goes somewhere in there too. ;)

I'm not a particularly huge fanfic reader, I have read about a dozen novels from a few of my favorite fandoms, all of them generally admired and highly recommended, and maybe ONE of them has even attempted to fit to canon (and even that had a massive genre-shift in it's art style). In my experience, there is a rather significant divide between the kind of crowd that you are describing, who read trashy ship fics and canon-adherent continuations by the dozens, and those who are looking just out for good literature in general, and a handful of what they find happen to be based in familiar universes and focus on something else than IP-building.

In the latter, that actually approach fanfics as literary works, Alternate Universe/reimagination/vaguely inspired stories acknowledging their roots, are more the rule than the exception.

After all, if you think about it, the "canon" as somethingg that you have to follow, is in itself is a construct of the modern commercialized copyright system. Ancient mythologies, epics, or theatre would have never cared about whether they are accurately following someone else's "IP" or "Universe", they were SUPPOSED TO organically change over time through reimaginations.

$40,000 to publish three novels? In the world of indie publishing that is absurd. I guess that would leave a lot of money to advertise? Or if you really wanted to waste money go with a bad printer to make paper copies for a hefty price.

Regardless, I see fanfiction as practice towards writing your own creations. It's how I look back on my fanfiction writing days. When you leave that behind and start doing original works, the freedom to create your own worlds is rather exciting.

As an author who makes a living off his writing though, that $40,000 price tag seems so bizarrely out of whack with the realities of publishing today. I hire editors (which I deem rather frivolous) and pay for promotion, but the idea of having that kind of cash to publish and promote just three novels is crazy to me. Even if I hired someone to do everything for me except write I can't see it costing me a tenth of that.

Entitled:

MetalMagpie:
"Throwing around a few familiar names for brand recognition" feels like a cheap marketing ploy. (Besides, making up names is one of the fun bits.)

I don't know, to me, ripping off a setting's basic idea, and then sticking new names to it seems more like a cheap attempt at fake originality. If you had a great idea about new space exploring protagonists, while watching Star Trek, you might as well be honest and write it as the stories of a new crew in the Star Trek werse, without giving a new name to the parts that you didn't intend to reimagine anyways. (the background empires, the techbabble, etc.)

That's sort-of my point. I don't really care about being "original" (whatever that actually means). I just want to write stories and have fun doing it. If I write my space-voyage story as a Star Trek story, I have to pay attention to how things work in the Star Trek universe. If I just use Star Trek as a major influence, I can do anything I like. I don't often have a signal influence in mind when I write a story. I'm usually grabbing things from all over the place.

"Cheap marketing ploy" was a bit harsh and I apologise. I just read your line as "and throw in a few names to make it superficially seem like a Star Trek story to get the Star Trek fans to read it".

Entitled:

MetalMagpie:
I don't really want to annoy/disappoint people by leading them to expect something they're not going to get. And there's the whole "you haven't portrayed that character right" or "ew! that couple would never happen!" drama.

I guess the old "I want people to read my stuff because it's good, not because they'll read anything about Star Trek" self-preening goes somewhere in there too. ;)

I'm not a particularly huge fanfic reader, I have read about a dozen novels from a few of my favorite fandoms, all of them generally admired and highly recommended, and maybe ONE of them has even attempted to fit to canon (and even that had a massive genre-shift in it's art style). In my experience, there is a rather significant divide between the kind of crowd that you are describing, who read trashy ship fics and canon-adherent continuations by the dozens, and those who are looking just out for good literature in general, and a handful of what they find happen to be based in familiar universes and focus on something else than IP-building. In the latter, that actually approach fanfics as literary works, Alternate Universe/reimagination/vaguely inspired stories acknowledging their roots, are more the rule than the exception.

Every writer is different, but building the setting is something I do alongside building the story. I very rarely write more than one story in the same "world" because I pick setting details to suit the plot and characters I want. Which is another way that writing in a pre-defined world wouldn't really work for me.

I'm not trying to insult fanfic writers (or fanfic readers, or fandoms in general). But posting writing online can be a traumatic enough experience without opening myself up to attack from mad fans of the IP I'm butchering. At least when I write an "original" bad story, I'm not destroying anyone's childhood!

Entitled:
After all, if you think about it, the "canon" as somethingg that you have to follow, is in itself is a construct of the modern commercialized copyright system. Ancient mythologies, epics, or theatre would have never cared about whether they are accurately following someone else's "IP" or "Universe", they were SUPPOSED TO organically change over time through reimaginations.

I don't really see the whole "copyright law" thing as relevant to what I do. I'm an amateur writer posting my work online for free. If I was doing this for a living, I would care about copyright. But at the moment it's just not something I ever think about. Similarly the idea of "canon" only really applies to serial stories (and organised religion), which I don't really do.

Jumwa:
$40,000 to publish three novels? In the world of indie publishing that is absurd. I guess that would leave a lot of money to advertise? Or if you really wanted to waste money go with a bad printer to make paper copies for a hefty price.

Regardless, I see fanfiction as practice towards writing your own creations. It's how I look back on my fanfiction writing days. When you leave that behind and start doing original works, the freedom to create your own worlds is rather exciting.

As an author who makes a living off his writing though, that $40,000 price tag seems so bizarrely out of whack with the realities of publishing today. I hire editors (which I deem rather frivolous) and pay for promotion, but the idea of having that kind of cash to publish and promote just three novels is crazy to me. Even if I hired someone to do everything for me except write I can't see it costing me a tenth of that.

I've seen some quotes that as much as half of the budget for a AAA video game goes on marketing! So yeah, I can only assume the money is for advertising, getting thousands of copies into shops, maybe a promotional event, etc.

Or maybe they just decided that it was an achievable number to reach with a Kickstarter and they're going to work out what to do with it later. I haven't watched their pitch video.

Interesting.

I've always seen fan-fic writing as a stepping stone on the path to evolving into an original writer. That's certainly how I took to it. When I was a dumb brat in High School, I used it as a sort of extended writing exercise. Instead of worrying about crafting a world and its various laws of existence from scratch, I basically took a template and ran with it. It allowed me to practice basic writing techniques while getting feedback from actual people who cared about writing as something they loved, rather than from a business aspect (I once asked a friend of my Dad's, who works for a publishing company, what it takes for a story to get published at their house, and I swear he replied "Whatever is profitable", which pretty much killed any desire for me to be a novelist. Instead, I write stuff for fun and let people read it for free.).

But 40K is a lot for indie publishing. I mean, damn. I'd like to see the cost breakdown that got them that number.

*dons Brony hat*
Right... While a great deal of fanfiction is, indeed, some form of fan-wank, when you've read gems like Past Sins and My Little Dashie, you learn to see them from a different perspective; you see some really well-made stories, built from the setting of an already fantastic premise.

And, speaking as someone who's dabbled in writing fanfics, sometimes it's more about having fun writing the stories than it is just being "HEY WOULDN'T IT BE COOL OF THESE GUYS MET THESE GUYS".

There is some really good fanfic out there. I have to admit to preferring AU kind of stories. But there have been some stories where you do look forward to the next chapter. There are a few writers that I would support if they had their own fiction published, because their work is so well written.

Fanfic for some people is their first foray into writing and I think it helps build their confidence. Plus they learn from comments that their readers make and are appreciative. I say good luck to the Kickstarter project.

>fan-fiction
>original

Holy hell, hilarious . I'll admit I write some few occasional tidbits of fanfic, but its not original. It's someone else's creativity entirely. Fanfics of any kind should never be shared and never see the light of day unless its some absolutely superb work, which is less than few and far between. To hell with this kickstarter, from what I've read about those fics, awful garbage.

Multi-Hobbyist:

Holy hell, hilarious . I'll admit I write some few occasional tidbits of fanfic, but its not original. It's someone else's creativity entirely.

It's one thing to believe this about works that are based on someone else's IP than the creator, but the problem is that it's completely arbitrary to single out fanfiction on this standard.

By the same logic, Telltale's The Walking Dead game, Alan Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic, and Tom Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead play are all "someone else's creativity entirely".

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