There have been many instances where fanfiction writers have gone on to become published authors—E.L.James, Michelle Magly, Rae D. Magdon, Meg Cabot, R.J. Anderson—and this might surprise you. Considering some of the caliber of work that float around on FF.net (or any other fandom writing website) it might surprise a lot of people.
But it didn’t surprise me.
Yes, some of the writing on these sites—and I’m talking about FanFiction.net (FF.net) specifically here—are a little… bad, or “young” as I like to call them. They are unpolished. But they are also sometimes written by relatively young writers—teens—ones just learning to write.
(I should know. I started off on FF.net myself, learning how to write and not worrying about crafting my own immense universe. I still write fanfiction, mostly Teen Titans and Frozen/How To Train Your Dragon, but I’ll be branching out to Legend of Korra soon. But I write original fiction as well. I’ve only had a few things published here and there, journals and magazines mostly. I haven’t had a full-length manuscript picked up yet, but it’s on my list of dreams that one day I hope to check off.)
There are some amazing writers on FF.net, though. Ones who write so well that there is simply nothing else for a person to do but sit and read them. Some FF.net writers have thousands of followers and hundreds of comments. Some writers have diehard fans who eagerly await the next installment, who question the writer when they will upload the next chapter, and, yes, who even get mad if they don’t upload fast enough.
Sometimes those writers are content with living in another’s world. With dealing with another’s characters. With creating new content but staying within a single realm they don’t need to manipulate much.
And that’s a great option!
But sometimes those writers want to branch out and create their own universes. Sometimes, they go on to write original fiction.
And sometimes, in a once-in-a-million chance, those writers get picked up and published.
(For example, another wonderful fanfiction writer—Sy Itha—recently got picked up by Desert Palm Press. I’m particularly excited about this one, as Sy is a friend of mine and, since I also work at DPP, I get to edit their work.)
It’s an interesting path to publication, but one that makes quite a bit of sense once you think about it.
Writing is an evolving art form, one that takes years to master, and starting off in another author’s universe is logical. When writing fanfiction you don’t need to worry about creating your own universe and crafting the rules that go with it. (World building is hard, guys!) You don’t need to worry about creating new characters with interesting quirks, existing characters are already built in. You don’t even need to worry about plot points, because if you write fanfiction you can literally start anywhere you want to! It’s an amazing opportunity to stretch your creative muscles.
Then, once you get a taste of fanfiction, maybe you want to challenge yourself to write your own fiction, your own universe, and your own characters. Maybe you have a story in your mind that just has to be told.
And maybe, just maybe, that original fiction gets published.
Now I’m not saying that all original fiction will get published in the traditional sense, but it is possible.
I’ve seen it happen to two friends, and maybe, someday, my path will lead there as well.
I can only hope and dream.
Alternatively, of course, I could be a lucky charm for other people because two of my other friends, who don’t write fanfiction, were picked up by agents and another one was picked up by a publisher. So maybe…
Be my friend = get published?
Food for thought!
P.s. – I’m going on vacation starting tomorrow until the 28th, so there will be no uploads during that time. Have a lovely two weeks, people. I’m certainly looking forward to a little relaxation.