Side-by-Side: Should Writers Professionally Publish Fanfiction?
Miranda Smith and Sadie Presto debate the ethics of publishing fiction that is based on another book.
Fanfiction should stay on websites only.
by Miranda Smith
Don’t get me wrong, I love reading fanfiction as much as the next person. I just do not think they should be professionally published. In short: it’s weird.
Reading a story about a famous person online is one thing, but buying that same story from Barnes and Noble is strange.
Fanfiction is literally fans writing fake stories about their favorite celebrities. I don’t know about you, but I think I would be a bit creeped out if a fake story was published about me. Not to mention all of those uncomfortable sexual scenes. No, thank you.
Let Anna Todd’s “After” be a warning to us all. What was once a One Direction fanfiction is now a published book, but the main character of the story (Harry Styles) just has a different name (Hardin). How do you think Harry felt when he heard about that book? Not to mention that it’s now a movie available to stream on Netflix. That’s extremely uncomfortable.
Aside from the uneasy feelings published fanfictions give me, they can also be confusing. Yes, they are all made up stories. But what if someone else came across the story and thought it was real?
If you want to be a published author, do it the old-fashioned way. Create your own story with original characters and settings.
Don’t steal someone else’s identity and attempt to fit it into your story. Not only will it be more enjoyable, it will be more successful.
You won’t be known as the author who became famous for One Direction fanfiction. Try putting that on your resume and having no one laugh at you.
Fanfiction adaptations are okay, sometimes.
by Sadie Presto
I’ll be the first to admit it, I love fanfiction! Not only do I love the content, but I also love the opportunities it provides. Independent community publishing services, like Archive of Our Own and Wattpad, give aspiring authors the opportunity to publish their writing, build their craft, and grow a fanbase.
I find it so amazing that authors publishing to these services as a hobby can make it a serious lifestyle. For example, Wattpad is partnered with multiple publishers to help popular authors receive compensation for their writing.
One of the most popular examples is Anna Todd, the author of the “After” series. The “After” series, published online in 2013 with over 1.8 billion reads, was picked up by publisher Simon & Schuster in 2014. People never stopped talking about “After,” even years later, and in 2019 it was adapted into a successful film.
But in the same breath as my excitement for fanfiction, it also makes me uneasy. I ask myself the question, is it ethical to create a persona of someone you don’t actually know?
As much as fans like to think they know all about their favorite person, we really don’t; we only know what we’re allowed to know.
At the end of the day, both authors and readers need to realize that those “characters” you fantasize about are real people who would cringe if they ever read some of these extreme works.
Yes, I believe fanfiction should be published to these community services, but I also think authors need to be more considerate and realistic with their work.
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