Fan Fiction to Published Book: A Case Study
Last time, we discussed the different options for publishing a story that had its genesis in fan fiction: name-change-only, reworking, and rewriting. Whether we believe there’s ever a “right” way to publish a story that began as fan fiction (fanfic), authors who completely rewrite their story should be recognized for at least making the attempt to avoid the ethical issues of the pull-to-publish (P2P) process. As I stated last time, these different approaches shouldn’t be lumped together with the attitude that all P2P is equally bad.
Today, I’m happy to welcome an author who took the path of rewriting her Twilight-based fanfic story from scratch. She stripped her story down to the premise and started over with new characters, which in turn, led to a new plot, as these characters reacted differently to the premise’s inciting incident. An analysis by the Turnitin plagiarism software confirmed that her original fiction story, Into the Dark, is 99% different from the fanfic version of the premise, which was called The Hostage.
That sounds like a lot of work for a story that might still be unaccepted by some, simply due to its fanfic roots, but when I heard her unique premise, I understood her inability to let this story idea go. I love all my premises, and if necessary, I’d be willing to rewrite the whole story several times too. *smile* (In fact, published authors have done exactly that!)
Please join me in welcoming Stacy Green, author of Into the Dark!
Jami Gold: Hi, Stacy, let’s talk about the big picture of the P2P issue first. How would you define P2P and do you support it?
Stacy Green: For me, it all comes down to the amount of work you put into rewriting and creating a new story. If you’ve got an original premise and are willing to rewrite, then choosing to publish isn’t necessarily wrong. The key is how different the published piece is from the original.
I don’t think simply taking a fan fiction piece you’ve written and then changing the names and selling it is right. That was the main issue I had with 50 Shades of Grey—the 89% ratio to characters that so closely resembled Edward and Bella. It bothered me that the author didn’t change the characters, or even better—start over.
Jami: How did your attitude toward P2P affect how you approached writing Into the Dark?
Stacy: I had to start completely over. I felt—and still do—that as long as I wrote an original piece based on the premise and didn’t simply reuse what I had in The Hostage—I was writing a new book.
That meant accepting the fact that fan fiction is not the same as a novel. I’d build up a bit of an ego based on some of the reviews, and I had to check all that at the door and realize I was a complete novice.
Essentially, doing it right meant trashing everything and learning craft and the business of publishing.
Jami: What makes Into the Dark different from the usual P2P situation?
Stacy: I don’t consider Into The Dark as pulled to publish. I took a premise—the idea of a stalker staging a bank robbery to kidnap a woman—and wrote a completely new story. New characters—down to motivation, background, physical, etc. Only the very basic concept of the beginning was kept.
I also had to learn how to write a real book. I’d already figured out I was pretty clueless about that, so I studied story structure, point of view, plot and character, scenes, and took some online classes.
I started from scratch more than once. Even though the Edward and Bella I created for The Hostage were very different from the real characters, they were both one-dimensional, and I still had to create the hero and heroine all over again for Into The Dark. It wasn’t until I created detailed backgrounds for both of them that I finally got their personalities the way I wanted them.
And then there were the plotting issues. I was a panster, and The Hostage had no direction—just a basic idea. Figuring out the plot for Into The Dark was a huge work in progress. I wrote two separate drafts before I really figured out what turning points and midpoints were. And then I had to write another!
But it ended up to be a great thing, because I learned how to be a much better writer. And I’m still learning, of course. That’s the best thing about writing.
Jami: The Turnitin plagiarism software program showed that Into the Dark is 99% different from The Hostage. Can you talk about the ways you ensured this was an entirely different story?
Stacy: Well, The Hostage wasn’t even halfway complete (and still over 100K words at that point!) when I made the decision to pull. I then spent a year doing everything I spoke about above: learning craft, characterization, structure, etc., keeping only the premise as I’ve explained.
My hero had no real background and was utterly one-dimensional, so I created one, adding personal and family conflict—a family past that’s dark and tragic, which is a complete opposite from Edward’s apple-pie life in The Hostage. My heroine was a skittish, angry introvert who was very hard to like. I started fresh with her more than once. For her past, I kept one idea from The Hostage—the role her grandmother played in her life, and I still toned that down a great deal. I gave her a new personality, background, and character arc.
In The Hostage, the Cullen family played a vital part. Those characters were dumped. The hero, Nathan, does have a sister, but she was rewritten and is based on a close friend.
I chose to keep the Taker’s nickname, but that’s about all that’s the same with him. He was always my creation, but he was originally supposed to have erotomania—when a stalker fixates on someone because they believe that person is in love with them. I abandoned that idea and created a new, much more layered background for him that is actually the driving force of his obsession with Emilie.
All the scenes and concepts with the homeless were created specifically for Into The Dark. I spoke to Matthew O’Brien, author of Beneath the Neon, about what it was really like in the tunnels to ensure I got it right.
Jami: Which aspects of the story are the same, and why did you keep them?
Stacy: Like I said, the only things I really kept are the Taker’s name and the premise of using the bank robbery as a ruse. I kept the premise because it was original and had a lot of potential. As for the “Taker,” I just loved the name too much to give it up. I think it invokes fear and would make a great headline.
Jami: I can understand why you kept both of those! What are you most worried about if people think this is a P2P situation and that these are the same story?
Stacy: My biggest worry is people purchasing Into The Dark because they think it’s The Hostage and then feeling cheated/disappointed. That’s actually how I discovered the stories were being confused, because a reader of The Hostage emailed me excited to finish it. I cleared everything up for her, and I want to make sure I do that for everyone else. If Into The Dark sounds interesting to you, I’d love for you to read it. But don’t buy it thinking you are finishing The Hostage, because you’ll be disappointed.
Jami: If these two stories are so different, why did you pull The Hostage from the fanfic community?
Stacy: At the time, I felt that leaving The Hostage up (even with a disclaimer) would be unfair and give people false hope it might be finished. And to me, trying to carry over readers of The Hostage seemed like an insult to them. Embarking on a career as a published author meant building a reader base from my new writing.
Secondly, I was a bit of a coward and afraid of the backlash from the author community. I didn’t want the online writing world to know I got my start in writing Twilight fan fiction, and that was stupid and selfish. Being a part of that world gave me the confidence to take the next step, and I finally realized I needed to be grateful instead of embarrassed.
Jami: If you had it to do all over again, would you still pull The Hostage from the fanfic community?
Stacy: No. They are two different stories, and that’s easily proven. But more than anything, I regret deleting all those reviews. When I pulled The Hostage, I was thinking only of myself and my own future. I didn’t stop to think that I was also deleting all the hard work that so many reviewers had put into the story, and for that I am very sorry. Pulling it was rude and ungrateful to them, and I never even thought of it from their perspective until it was far too late.
Jami: Any final words you’d like to say to potential readers or to those who still believe Into the Dark should be labeled P2P?
Stacy: I know it’s different. I’m confident in what the software says. However, I realize there are some purists who will always believe Into The Dark qualifies as pulled to publish, and that I did the wrong thing. It’s like politics or religion—I can’t change their minds, and I won’t try to. My main reason for the interview is to let readers who want to finish The Hostage know this book isn’t the same thing so they have all the information before they decide to spend their money.
Stacy Green is fascinated by the workings of the criminal mind and explores true crime on her popular Thriller Thursday posts at her blog, Turning the Page.
After earning her degree in journalism, Stacy worked in advertising before becoming a stay-at-home mom to her miracle child. She rediscovered her love of writing and wrote several articles for Women’s Edition Magazine of Cedar Rapids, profiling local businesses, before penning her first novel. Her debut novel, INTO THE DARK, is set in Las Vegas and features a heroine on the edge of disaster, a tormented villain, and the city’s infamous storm drains that house hundreds of homeless.
I want to thank Stacy for that honest and insightful look at her reasoning, process, and regrets in bringing Into the Dark to publication. Personally, I think she did things the “right” way, and I wouldn’t even call this situation P2P. She didn’t pull to publish that same story. She pulled a story she had no plans to finish and then decided to reuse the premise. However, others will have their own opinion.
(Edited to add: After commenters weighed in here, Stacy decided to repost The Hostage on fanfiction.net. So her story no longer qualifies as P2P under any definition. Pulling a fanfic story—for any reason—has become a red flag in some of the fandoms.)
Even with this long route of completely rewriting a story, there’s still a risk of confusion because the premise is the same, and people who read only the similar-sounding blurb will assume the story itself is the same too. I don’t know of a way around that problem, as our blurbs should be the “hook” to our story, the most interesting aspect of the premise, and it’s often that aspect that makes the premise worth rewriting. So that essence of the premise won’t change—no matter how much the story itself has changed.
I applaud Stacy’s efforts to get the word out and ensure that she’s not appealing to those fanfic readers with false expectations. I wish more fanfic authors would put in the time and effort to take the path Stacy has.
Have your thoughts about P2P changed after learning more? If so, how? What would make you go through the work of rewriting one of your stories from scratch? Do you have any suggestions for how to overcome the issue of similar-sounding blurbs in situations like this? Do you have any questions for Stacy (about P2P, her process, her book, etc.)?Pin It
Thank you so much for having me today, and for your understanding and support. I look forward to answering any questions your readers might have, so I will be checking in throughout the day.
And thank you for your honest answers! I have much more respect for someone who recognizes the inherent issues in P2P and tries to do the right thing than someone who acts like there aren’t any issues and just does whatever they want. 🙂
Way back in March when I first became aware of the P2P situation, I laid out in those posts and comments what–in my opinion–would be the “recipe” for reusing a premise from a fanfic story in original fiction. Others are welcome to disagree with that recipe, or even whether there is such a thing as the “right” way, but I hope we all can agree that there are nuances between the really wrong and the less wrong ways to reuse our work. 🙂 Thanks for being here!
Thanks Jami for the great pair of posts on P2P. (Today’s comment is apparently brought to you by the letter ‘P’.) You’re doing a great service by helping everyone recognize that some of the issues surrounding P2P and fanfic aren’t black and white.
Thanks for opening up to us. 1% similar? That 1% is always causing problems…
It would be fascinating to compare various romance novels to find their percentage overlap. Especially those by the same author where voice similarities might be observed.
I agree with Jami, Into The Dark shouldn’t be considered P2P. As a further peace offering, it might be nice to keep a few ARC’s handy for any Hostages commenters who wanted one.
Thanks for helping get my brain started this morning.
Hi Jay, thanks so much for your kind words. Voice similarity is an issue for any author, as is overall word usage. I definitely have certain ticks I have to keep track of, and fortunately I have a great line editor who can usually spot them.
As for the ARCs, that is a great idea. I’m sure my publisher would be fine with my sharing a few.
Ooo, good point from you and TechGuy about our writing voice and phrase tics. I stopped reading one paranormal romance author because the heroine of every single book and the voice of every single hero was described with the SAME phrases. It drove me nuts! LOL!
Those books would definitely hit that 1% similar mark, and supposedly they’re unrelated books. 🙂
Yeah, I have to be very careful with Lisa Gardner. She is one of my faves, but I have to read her sparingly or I will notice things creeping in, especially with dialogue. And then I have to dump and start all over.
Yes, I have a tendency of “saving up” some series books so I don’t forget what happens in between, but that means I get an overdose on their voice. 🙂
*now terrified about what my writing tics might be* LOL!
Yeah. I recently re-read every book I owned by one author, and she seemed to have every hero saying “I’ll never hurt you” to the heroine. Every. Single. One. It even seemed like the same phrasing. And the heroes’ personalities all differed. It was…odd.
LOL! Yes, odd. 🙂
You know, I hate not being able to use the phrase “shades of gray” without it being a reference to that book. 🙁 Because, honestly, I think there are nuances here. 🙂
If someone loves their premise enough to not want to “lose” it, I can understand that. And if they’re going to reuse it one way or another, I’d rather they see that there is a way to do it “right” (or at least “right-ish” 🙂 ) and that if they take the time and effort to do it that way, they’ll be recognized for their efforts.
As far as an ARC giveaway, Stacy very consciously didn’t want to do anything to have this seem to be a “promo” post. We didn’t even include a “buy” link, just a link to the Goodreads page for more information. However, a giveaway to any curious The Hostage readers would be a different matter. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
“As far as an ARC giveaway, Stacy very consciously didn’t want to do anything to have this seem to be a “promo” post. We didn’t even include a “buy” link, just a link to the Goodreads page for more information. ”
This is commendable. I wondered about it when I read the post, and then hoped this was the reason.
Jami, thanks for clearing that up. Yes, I didn’t want to use this post as any sort of “read my book” or promotion at all. I just wanted to make sure no one was spending their money without all the facts, and to clear up the pulled to publish issue.
Jay, I agree 100% in what you’ve said here about comparing various (or loads) of romance novels over the ages to find their ovrlap.
*digs up the book at her preferred vendor and puts it on her wishlist*
Now you have me wondering about that fanfic. ^_^
🙂 Thanks so much. I hope you enjoy if you do choose to read.
I know! Stalker fakes bank holdup to kidnap a woman–love that premise. 🙂 Like I said, I can definitely understand Stacy’s desire to reuse that with characters that fit the story better. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Hi Jami and Stacy, I read this blog post with much interest. As you may or may not know, I moderate a group on GR that exists to discuss and expose all P2P fanfics. I also shelve proven P2P books on my own shelves accordingly. Also, I know that Jami is one of the most outspoken authors about this phenomenon, and to see her discussing a book that was initially thought to be a P2P is definitely intriguing. Stacy – I can see your reasons for pulling the fanfic, incomplete as it was. I’m sure you also realize that copies of it are floating in cyber space, which will likely be used to ascertain your claim that the published version is 99% different, according to Turnitin. If that is the case, I agree with Jami. Taking the premise of a fanfic (or a published novel, at that), and then building a whole new set of characters, characterizations and back stories, plus a new plot because as Jami has famously said in a previous blog post, new characters don’t act like the fanfic characters and thus develops into a new plot – well, that’s not illegal nor morally corrupt, IMHO. Lots of books use a similar premise, but end up with very different characters and very different plots. Lots of romances use the same premise – handsome, rich hero falls for beautiful but poor heroine – and still end up being rather different in plot and characters. So, I’ve reshelved the… — Read More »
Sandra, thank you so much for reading the interview with an open mind. Yes, I know there are copies of The Hostage out there, and that’s fine with me. Anyone can feel free to compare it–I’m lucky that Jami handled the TurnItIn software on her own and all I did was get her the files. I don’t even know how to use it, but that’s a good thing because it makes me an unbiased third party.
Thank you so much for reshelving the book and for speaking with other mods. I was aware of your group, and I do understand and support your reasoning behind the pulled to publish categorizing, so it really means a lot you’ve chosen to remove Into The Dark.
I would love for you to review the book–please let me know what format you’d like and where to send it, and thank you again!
Thanks so much for offering a copy of your book for review. If you could provide an epub copy, that would be super. Please send it to sandra [at] myfictionnook dot com.
The group’s primary function is to shed light on the fanfics that are pulled and then show up shortly after as basically the same stories with new names. I’m sure I don’t have to elaborate on FSoG and the outrage that caused. Unlike your book, FSoG was found by Turnitin to be 89% the same as the fanfic. We also provide a safe(r) environment for discussion than an open forum such as Twitter, where stating one’s opinion on the matter can quickly result in a witch hunt. If you’re interested in joining the group, please let me know.
Yes, FSoG is a mystery to me. I will never understand why the Big 6 publisher didn’t demand a rewrite at the very least, but I guess money speaks the loudest.
Thanks again, and look for an email from me shortly.
Hi Sandra, Thank you so much for stopping by! (Yes, I know who you are. I’m not in the fandoms, but I do listen on the fringes, especially for news about P2P issues. 🙂 ) As for the comparison, yes, everyone should confirm to their own comfort level. I, personally, used some of the free plagiarism detection programs to compare them myself. The free programs don’t give percentages, but the only non-crossed out words (meaning similar between versions) were random words like “the” and the name of a “spear-carrier” type character (the name of minor detective character, I think). After that initial confirmation of Stacy’s efforts, I looked for someone who could run the Turnitin software for me so I could get the actual percentage. I certainly don’t blame anyone for assuming this was a simple name-change-only story, as the blurb is the premise and that hasn’t changed. And like I said, I don’t know of a way around that issue when an author protests short of taking up a collection to have someone in the fandom buy Turnitin to run themselves. LOL! I know many more authors claim to change their stories more than they actually do. In some of my previous posts, I pointed out all the ways fanfic authors can delude themselves into thinking their characters are more “theirs” than they really are. So the authors themselves aren’t always the best judge of how different the stories are. 😉 Thanks for everything you do to help make… — Read More »
[…] Thursday, I’ll be interviewing one such author, and the Turnitin analysis shows only 1% similarity between the published version and the fanfic […]
I don’t know a lot about this particular issue, but I am Stacy’s critique partner and have been for a little more than a year. I helped her work on Into the Dark and can say (from personal experience) that very little of what she started with made the final book.
I am so impressed with how much Stacy’s writing skills have improved just in the year-plus that I’ve known her. I am honored to be first reader on all her fiction.
Let me tell you all a little secret: as good as Into the Dark is, the next book is even better.
Aw, thank you so much for commenting! Yes, Into The Dark changed repeatedly, thank goodness. So many of those early rewrites were awful. And I can’t tell everyone how much of an asset Catie is a critique partner. Her book is coming out in February, and I’m really excited for it. It’s a unique take on the paranormal world with a great mystery.
Ooo, this brings up a great point! Many of us who are strongly against P2P wonder if the fanfic author can’t come up with original ideas and that’s why they stick with the P2P idea. So it’s good to hear that Stacy has a new, “completely untainted by P2P” book in the works. 🙂 Thanks for sharing and thanks for the comment!
In some ways, to me, this is one of this issues that should be a non-issue. Yet, it’s an issue. See why it’s complicated? As an author I know there isn’t a big deal about taking a tiny idea that you may have been inspired by something else and developing a full story out of it. I do this every day. Literally, every day I see, read, hear, talk about something that triggers the idea corner of my mind. They build up there until I decide to forget it, expand on it or write it. I guess I don’t really understand why Stacy did a couple of things. 1. Why did she remove her story? Why did she ever write her story? I believe wholeheartedly in the spirit of fanfiction. Writing a fanfic because the original characters inspired you to write an alternative story. Every single original piece I have written I couldn’t even turn it into a fanfiction (IMO). Alternately, every single fanfiction I’ve written is so mired in the original characters and story that I would be left with so little to work with that’s original the work would be pointless. IMO, if you’re writing fanfiction just write it for the joy and fun and entertainment of it. If you’re writing original fiction just write something original. 2. Why not just really start over? If its only 1% the same is it even fanfiction? Or is the author just lingering around the fandom edges for a readership? (I… — Read More »
Angel, I see what you’re saying. And in retrospect, I do wish I’d left The Hostage up because it was so different. As for why I started out in fanfic, I was really into the Twilight world at the time, and going through some personal things. I hadn’t written fiction in a long time, but I really wanted to try. I never even considered publishing until a close friend started urging me to. I didn’t think I was good enough, etc. So the intent to publish was never there, if that makes any sense. The thought didn’t enter my mind until I was urged by so many people to do it. Now, I’ll be honest: this happened twice with me. My first story, Near You Always, was one I pulled after it had been completed for a few months, and I planned on rewriting. Meanwhile, I started The Hostage for fun and never really got back into NYA. I just didn’t love the premise as much as this, and that same friend convinced me to start over with it. So, my long-winded answer to your question is that yes, you’re right. It never should have been this situation, but it was because I had no idea, no plans for publishing. Writing the fan fiction gave me that confidence, and that’s why I regret taking the stories down. I should have been more respectful of the readers. As for lingering around the fandom edges, I actually haven’t been a part of… — Read More »
Hi Angel, Stacy can answer these questions herself, but I’ll throw in my two cents. 🙂 “every single fanfiction I’ve written is so mired in the original characters and story that I would be left with so little to work with that’s original the work would be pointless.” Yes, it would be pointless to make the same story in most cases after removing the fanfic aspects. But that’s exactly why these two stories aren’t the same. She took the staged bank robbery premise–which has nothing to do with Twilight–and started from scratch on all the other elements. This approach is not unheard of among published authors. In the post, I linked to an article by Therese Walsh about how she started from scratch–a blank page–multiple times with her premise. And that had nothing to do with fanfic. It’s just that the story wasn’t coming together the way she wanted it to. She’s said in other interviews that she kept pieces of two scenes out of the whole book. The rest was all new each time. The protagonists changed, the genre changed, the tone changed, the themes changed, etc. But the premise–a woman dealing with the death of her twin–remained the same. So if published authors can go through this “start from scratch when they love the premise” process, why couldn’t fanfic authors? Just because an author first comes up with an idea during a fanfic phase shouldn’t (IMHO) invalidate their ability to reuse their premise. This premise is original, so… — Read More »
Congrats, Stacy! As another fanfiction writer, I wish you all the best with your release! 🙂
Thanks so much, Kimmy. I really appreciate it!
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
This sounds like the author found inspiration by writing Twlight fanfic, but the story sounds nothing like Twilight. I wouldn’t consider it fanfic at all since it was reworked so much.
Very cool and congrats on the finished book!
That’s a great way to sum it up – much better job than I did, lol. Thank you!
Yes, so much of the fanfic out there (especially in the Twilight fandom) isn’t canon anyway, so the main aspects that make it fanfic are the essence of the characters–and the fact that the writer is labeling it fanfic and appealing to those fans. Here, since Stacy started with all new, original elements, including the characters, and never intended to have any crossover or visibility in the fanfic world, I don’t consider this new story fanfic either. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Hi Jami and Stacy,
First of let me say thank you to Jami. I would do post on my blogs about p2p fanfiction but then it would bring a whole nasty fight that still exists in the fandom.
Secondly, as far as p2p is concerned, if it was 1% similar I could see myself proud of the author for taking the same idea, and rewriting it completely from scratch with their own characters.
This is my conflict
Why delete the story?
I know the reviewers in the fandom do get annoying, but why delete it? You could have put an A/N on how you have no intentions on finishing the story, I have done that with other stories I wrote. With the story disappearing then you rewrite, it somehow to me feels like the Gabriel’s Inferno fiasco in the fandom. The story could have remain posted and you still could have taken the idea and rewrote it from scratch. With the story still posted it would have been much easier to see that the fanfic and the new one are NOTHING alike. Like when Dear Author ran the side by side and posted the results of FSOG/MOTU the public could see they were exactly the same story.
Ideas are always recycled, like in contemporary and paranormal books. Like in paranormal how the human falls in love with the creature, they just change the creature but the story reads like the others.
Thanks for Letting me comment!
Thanks for your comment and understanding. You’re absolutely right–the story could have remained posted. I pulled because at the time, it seemed like the right thing. I felt that leaving it up would lead readers to hope The Hostage would be finished. And, that’s what everyone else was doing, so foolishly, I followed suit. It just seemed to be the first step to take, and I did so without clearly thinking it through or considering the long term repercussions.
I do wish I’d left it up, and I completely understand readers/reviewers frustrations with taking it down.
I wasn’t talking about the reader’s frustration, I was referring to all the messages the FF writer gets from readers begging for updates of the story
Oh, sorry, I misunderstood. I just meant I understood why readers get frustrated when authors pull, for whatever reason. Thanks!
I certainly understand the question about deleting the fanfic version. Honestly, if someone would have asked me 6 months ago if they should pull an unfinished story, I probably would have said yes just because my thoughts would have been more about cutting the ties to avoid any appearance of “exploiting the fans.”
However, as I’ve mentioned, I’m not in any fandoms and haven’t posted (or really even read) anything on a site like fanfiction.net, so I wasn’t aware of the issue of how pulling would delete all those comments, reviews, and feedback from the readers. Now that I’m aware, my advice would be different.
So I can’t judge missteps like that. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Yes, Gabriel’s INferno was another that changed the way fanfic readers read. Now most readers don’t even read WIP, they only read completed fics, because of that incidence.
As to posting online, most fanfic sites, you can delete the other chapters, and leave only the first chapter of the story and for that first chapter all the reviews and comments will still be posted.
Hope this helps
Ah, good to know. Thanks!
Well but then if it’s 99% different, then it’s not really p2p, is it? You pulled one thing and published something else. That just doesn’t really fit the definition of p2p to me.
The main stigma that lumps p2p’s together with that attitude that it’s all equally bad is that the practice is fundamentally rooted in necessity–the published work so closely resembles the fanfiction that it *must* be removed from the internet to avoid legality issues. It isn’t so much (for me, at least) an anger that author has removed the story, but rather that the act itself is an explicit admission and acknowledgment of community exploitation, and in many cases, the direct celebration of that.
After all, if the published work were so different, then why would one even bother pulling it?
That clearly wasn’t the case here, so I think it’s a completely different thing we’re talking about; not a case of ‘Fanfic to published book’ so much as ‘borrowed fanfic trope to published book’, which wouldn’t even merit discussion if the author 1. hadn’t pulled the fanfic that inspired it, and 2. had successfully broken away from her fanfic roots.
I just fear giving people the wrong impression that there is somehow a ‘right’ way to p2p their fanfic. I don’t believe there really is. The ethical issues stem from the published work being too close to the original fanwork. If that wasn’t the case, then it wouldn’t need to be pulled.
I see what you saying. No, this isn’t really pulled to publish, but we needed to clear that up and make sure no one bought Into The Dark thinking it was the same story.
As for the ‘right’ way, that’s true, in a sense. But I think what Jami and I are saying is that if you really love the premise and want to start from scratch, then that is acceptable.
HOWEVER, I would say this, from my own experience: don’t take the fanfic down. If you’re in the middle of it, explain your reasoning. Make it clear what you’re doing, and even then, some aren’t going to agree. But I think, as some others have said, taking it down is the huge red flag.
Secondly, if you have ANY inkling you might one day want to publish (I wish I had) then don’t use that idea as a fan fiction piece. Use something else if you want to write in a fandom and save yourself and your readers the upset.
Those are great takeaways from your experience. Thank you for being so honest about your regrets and mistakes. 🙂
That is another. I commend those who had only 6 chapters of their story posted and realized that the story they were writing wasn’t a fanfic, so instead they decide to leave the chapters posted and write the rest story themselves. Then there are some authors who just pull the six chapters and continue the story with the story. I don’t really like both ways but at least they didn’t post the whole story before realizing it wasn’t a fanfic.
Thanks:) It’s been good to hash it all out.
Great point! The only reason I include this complete rewrite method on the “scale” of P2P is because others assume these cases are P2P because of the blurb/premise being the same. If others hadn’t labeled this story as P2P (which is understandable if all they saw was the blurb), we wouldn’t need to talk about this story in the framework of the larger P2P issues. I don’t know how to avoid that issue, and if you have any thoughts or insights, I’d love to hear them. 🙂
Do you think if she hadn’t pulled the fanfic, people wouldn’t make that connection? That’s certainly possible, but with a premise as unique as this, I then wonder if Stacy would then have been accused of “stealing” the premise from whatever her fanfic penname was? LOL! It’s certainly an interesting case. Thanks for the comment!
Oh, I totally get that. And I can appreciate the probable futility of the author crying misclassification. I don’t necessarily have any insights, except that p2p has affected the community deeply enough that everyone is suspicious, and that sucks.
Not really an insight so much as stating the obvious, though.
I do understand the deep divide it’s caused, and I can’t blame the fandom for being so suspicious. In my case, hindsight is 20/20, and I wish I’d made some better decisions in regard to pulling/considering the readers.
Hi Angsty G,
LOL! I understand. I know full well that way more fanfic authors claim to have “significantly changed” their story than really do. As I mentioned to Sandra, I’ve pointed out in posts and comments all the ways writers can delude themselves about how much is “their” work. *sigh* Thanks for the comment!
I agree you you AngstyG
If the published work is so different, then why pull it. I have fics I abandoned and said I will not finish the story.
When an author pulls the fanfic mid-way I’m instantly brought back to Gabriel’s Inferno, using the fandom to test idea then saying “if you want to see what happens you have to buy the book” I’m one where I have to see to believe the fanfic is nothing like the published version.
Yes, I can understand how that would upset the fandom. Because of that case, pulling now has become a huge red flag rather than something people can do for personal reasons (getting out of the fandom, general embarrassment, cutting ties, etc.). That’s a shame really.
Professional authors know their published work stays in circulation forever through used books, libraries, etc. But as we were talking about on Tuesday’s post, many fanfic authors are teens and they probably don’t think about the “forever” aspect. They’re just trying to do something for fun, but now they have to leave their “writing on a lark” easily accessible forever to avoid being stuck with that red flag.
Just another example of how the greed of some have ruined the fun for everyone. 🙁 Thanks for the comment!
The greed didn’t just ruin Twi fandom, it’s going to ruin any future fandoms of franchises to come.
IDK about all that. The majority of western media fandoms are largely slash-based, and while those authors could totally p2p their fanfics and get a little bit of money, they have zero chances, and therefore little ambition, of reaching the heights of, say, a FSOG. M/M romance is way too niched a genre at this point in both the industry and society.
(Which sucks because I’ve read slash fic a million times better than most M/F p2p’s)
I had a strong following in HP, but the site is gone along with my fics 🙁
I don’t read slash, or AU, I do Canon/ Canon AU. And you’re right about FSOG. You did warn the fandom.
I have to chime in here just to say I’ve heard SO many people say that about the M/M Twilight fics. I didn’t read them, but a good friend of mine did, and she raved about the writing quality.
It’s too bad it’s not more of a niche, although with indie publishing, those writers can probably see some more success.
Twilight slash was… weird. There were some great fics, of course! But it took a really long time for the fandom to get there. At first it was mostly hardcore erotica stuff, and since it rarely got reviews or attention and was mostly waved off as ‘icky gay stuff’, the TwiSlash community was a really tight-knit group in and of itself. I think that a few different shifts in the community made TwiSlash a little more accepted, especially slash contests which offered some incentive for the community to try out new things, and also offered a good wave of new content to the fandom, but it’s still a definite minority.
Which is WEIRD to me as a panfandom slash fan, because I mean… well, look at Inception fandom; something that was basically formed on the foundation of a M/M ship that barely had any interaction at all in the movie, not to mention they were both minor characters. And yet in Twilight, Carlisle/Edward is (let’s face it) practically canon if you press your face to the screen and squint.
Twilight is just different like that.
LOL at Carlisle and Edward. So true. My friend read a lot of Jasper and Edward, and they were always the dark, angsty ones. I can’t remember what they were called though, it’s been so long.
I’m glad to hear there are still some tight knit groups in the fandom, considering all its been through the past few years.
Of course you said it better than me. RME.
I’VE HAD A LOT OF TIME TO PARSE MY FEELINGS OKAY
Your view on the subject is spot on AG!
LOL! *hitting the Like button* 🙂
To continue with what AngtsyG wrote, one of the excuses with P2P we hear is “this was originally my story, but i posted it online as a fanfic” So you are admitting you are using the fandom. There are multiple resources for an author to publsih their work. Heck some even post their books on blogs and publishers pick it up. Right now, NYT author Julie Kagawa is holding a manuscript critique contest. Labeling your original work as a fanfic is just entitling you to a lawsuit if you publish it.
Oh, I totally get that. I remember hearing stories about people writing original fiction but no one being interested, so they changed the names to Edward and Bella, just so they could post it as fanfic and get the attention. That’s absolutely exploiting the fandom, and those people couldn’t pull their stories and then suddenly claim they weren’t fanfic anymore. As soon as they posted them that way, that’s the label they’d get, regardless of the fact that they’d started as original fiction. Thanks for the comment!
Everyone has their own view but this is my personal view, there is no right way to p2p. A fanfic should just remain that, a fanfic
Thanks for letting me comment
Yes, I think the issue here is whether starting from a blank page with an original premise and original characters–but that premise had previously been explored in a different (fanfic) story–should be labeled P2P or not.
– The problem with labeling it P2P is now we’re talking about whether there’s a “right” way to do P2P. Which, understandably, some people don’t want to state because it opens up a whole can of worms and changes the definition a bit.
– The problem with not labeling it P2P is that the blurb leads people to assume that it is–and due to the bad habits of others, people can assume it’s yet another example of the worst kind of P2P and they lump it with the others.
I’d be perfectly happy not labeling these circumstances P2P, because I think they are different (and if the fanfic authors don’t pull their fanfic story, that certainly helps their case), but I don’t know of a simple way to avoid the (perfectly understandable) assumption and mislabeling based on the blurb. *shrug*
In other words, I wasn’t the one who started calling these start-from-scratch situations P2P. 😉 Thanks for the comment!
The whole p2p is just mind boggling
Thanks for letting me comment
First of all, Stacy, congrats on writing your novel. It’s hard work putting your guts into a story and whether it’s fanfic or straight fiction, you’ve done something amazing with your talent…you’ve learned your craft, overcome your fears and got your words out there. Second, I think you did everything right. It doesn’t sit well with me when I hear of authors of fanfic pulling their work, barely (or even partially, 89%, 50%, 35%) altering it and then trying to profit from it. You, on the other hand, IMO, are the model for how it should be done. I see why you’re upset about pulling the reviews, though, but I also feel for you. If I had been in the same situation I might not have realized that I was being unfair to the reviewers until it was too late. It’s tough to take, but chalk it up as a learning experience and put it behind you. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished since then 🙂 I have this saying over my desk that I read just about every day. In my case its meaning has to do with my husband’s brain cancer (he’s doing very, very well, in case I upset you with that…sorry, but I wanted to give you some back story) but the quote can translate to just about anything. It goes like this: Sometimes the best thing you can do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess…just breathe and have faith that everything will… — Read More »
Yes, I’m definitely less okay with those who rework their existing story. As Jeanne commented on Tuesday’s post, that’s basically just some degree of editing. And those fanfic authors may or may not be a good judge of whether they got all the fanfic elements out.
This case of starting from scratch strikes me as a completely different situation. As I mentioned in the last post, I can think of several bestselling authors who use the same premise for every single book. A premise is not a developed story with characters, plot events, and turning points. 🙂
As far as the issue with the reviews, yes, I’d never thought of it from the reviewer perspective either, so I’m willing to forgive for what I see as missteps. I’ve said before that much of P2P comes down to intentions for me, and I honestly believe that Stacy didn’t intend to upset anyone with her decision to pull. I think she acted from the intention to not take advantage of the fandom. Her actions in avoiding one problem created another. Those unintended consequences are tricky for people who haven’t been through this or been in a position to see all sides. I hope everyone comes away with a greater understanding of those problems. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Thanks so much for your comments. I do regret pulling the reviews because it was rude to those who left them, and I simply wasn’t thinking of anyone but myself at the time.
I LOVE your quote, and I am so glad to hear your husband is doing well. What a scary thing to go through, and it certainly puts a lot of the little things in my life in perspective.
Jami, you said, “Yes, I can understand how that would upset the fandom. Because of that case, pulling now has become a huge red flag rather than something people can do for personal reasons (getting out of the fandom, general embarrassment, cutting ties, etc.). That’s a shame really.” My head is about to explode with a thousand thoughts circulating in it on this subject, because so much of Stacey’s story is the same as mine. I started out as a Twilight Fan fic author, and didn’t have a huge following, but I really enjoyed the people I interracted with. Then I won a writing contest and consequently, a publishing contract. I pulled a bunch of my stories on fan fic for various reasons, and at that time, thought in the future I’d publish those stories. Well, as it so happened, for reasons not related to my pulling those stories, the contract fell through. I’d already pulled my stories down. Now I realize that publishing them would be incredibly unethical. At the time, I figured they were my stories to do with what I pleased, not even thinking for a second there was anything wrong with that because I had put in all the work, my characters weren’t canon at all, etc, etc, etc. I didn’t want to tell anybody in the fan fiction community I had decided to self publish for fear of backlash. I have now self published with all original works, none of them ever published on fan… — Read More »
Thank you so much for your comments. I think what you’re doing is a good thing, and if you’ve found a way to still be involved with the fandom without taking advantage – major kudos. That would definitely be a fine line to walk and very easy to cross without even realizing it.
Thank you so much for sharing your story – I’m sorry about the loss of your contract, and I hope you’ve had much success since that. And thanks again for understanding!
Hi Crystal, You bring up a great point about how some fanfic authors pull without realizing all the ethical issues. I have a much, much, much ( 🙂 ) bigger problem with pulling and publishing because of greed than out of being misinformed or unaware. As I’ve admitted, I’m not in the fandoms, but I would bet the tone of conversation about pulling a story from them has shifted over the years, with some periods of outrage, some of “well, everyone else is doing it,” some of resignation, etc. Depending on when a fanfic author was exposed to the fandom, their awareness of P2P might be very different from those of us who follow the issue on an ongoing basis. It is a tricky line to do both, I’m sure. On the one hand, those of us who are against P2P wish fanfic authors would get tons of support when they publish original fiction so there’s more incentive against the lure of P2P. But as with any other “platform” (whether that be Twitter followers, Facebook friends, blog readers, etc.), just because someone is interested in us as a person or in our blog posts or in our fanfic doesn’t mean they’ll be interested in our original fiction stories. That’s simply the way it is. That means the lure of P2P will continue, because the audience for P2P is everyone who’s willing to pay money for fanfic rather than anyone who’s willing to pay money to see what we can do… — Read More »
I just want to say I’m doing more of a start over than a rewrite of a nonfiction I was working on.
Yes, as we talked about on Twitter, I’m curious about how this works for non-fiction. I supposed on some level, it would probably be a go back to the essence of the point you wanted to make with your non-fiction, or maybe going back to the initial outline. Thanks for sharing and thanks for the comment!
What an interesting post! I’ve never written fanfic but I can totally relate to not wanting to let an idea go. I hope one day I’ll pick up my first novel, dust if off, and find a way to re-imagine it so it works.
Best of luck to you!
Absolutely! I can too. 🙂 I have one trunk novel I’ve thought about starting over with. Thanks for the comment!
It’s great that EBalways has come forward too clarify all this for us because even though I don’t have a big issue with P2P I was hurt to find that she pulled the hostage to publish it. For me there’s nothing wrong with P2P if the author finished the fanfic version, but completely wrong to get readers pulled in to the story but abandon it and then finish it with “new” characters and expecting people to be grateful that you’re finishing it. I’m glad to know that EBalways/Stacy didn’t do that but still the way she left was very rude. I remember being so impatient for the next chapter of The Hostage that instead of waiting for an update in my mailbox I went to her profile only to find there’s no story anymore. The confusion and disbelief and shock that came was simply hurtful.
So although I believe you when you say you’ve made many changes to the story, it is hard to completely divorce the idea that The Hostage and Into the dark are the same, and also the expectation for them to be the same. Closure was never received and by the sounds of it will never be achieved. You should have told us that you couldn’t continue The Hostage – it would’ve been courteous.
Stacy has reposted The Hostage on fanfiction.net under her fanfic pen name, so it’s no longer been pulled under any definition of P2P. She also included a note to let everyone know that it will never be finished.
So the notification might be late, but it now exists. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Yes, that is why I reposted The Hostage yesterday on FFn, although it’s not finished and won’t be. I’m sorry for pulling it and have done what I can to make it right.
[…] Fan Fiction to a Published Book: A Case Study by Jami Gold […]
Such an interesting discussion! Thank you, Stacy, for talking about the process when writing your book. I feel like the whole P2P phenomenon–hope I spelled that right!–has brought up side issues that could affect any author who has written fan fiction and then writes truly original work. I mentioned in a comment to a different post on the subject of fan fiction, that I’ve written a novel, the manuscript with a publisher now, and i worry that because the leading guy has two best guy friends, it could lead people to think it was originally a Twilight fic. It never was and never would have been, but the whole thing of fic authors publishing their fics does make me worry.
I did read the Hostage as a fic, but I do intend to buy the book, because from all you’ve said, stacy, the book isn’t in any way the fic. So, it will be new and interesting. I’m looking forward to reading it.
Thanks, Stacy, and thanks Jami for having her post!
Yes, that wavy gray line certainly makes things difficult (and/or interesting, depending on how you look at it). 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
Hi, thanks so much for commenting. I’m sorry if I’m late to this. Yes the fandom is very sensitive to P2P, and I have seen a few authors accused of it who were never involved. So I do understand the fear.
Thank you for understanding the The Hostage and Into The Dark are different, and I do hope you like the book!
Thanks for the terrific interview. I emailed the author shortly before her books release to let her know how excited I was about Into the Dark. I was an avid reader of The Hostage and was excited when I came across info on the web about her new book and the similarities of her 2 stories. She quickly replied and explained that they were indeed two different stories and basically sumed up what she said in your interview. I purchased her book anyways and I really enjoyed the story and was not disappointed.
Thanks for the feedback. 🙂 I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Hi there! I’m sorry I’m just now seeing this! I’m so glad to know you loved the book even though it’s so different from The Hostage. I think you must have been the one who alerted me on the confusion – so THANK YOU for that:)
I wasn’t a reader of The Hostage….but I am wondering, if the stories are so different, why the author is so adamant about not completing the fanfcition story? Personally I think this would be a great courtesy to the fans of the story and the reviewers that the author was so sorry for not appreciating.
I can’t speak for the author, but I can speak as an author. Our first book–or sometimes books–are great learning tools, but that means that once we’ve climbed up the learning curve, we can’t even look at that old work without cringing. We see every mistake we made with the characters, description, plotting, pacing, etc. It would be impossible for me to finish a half-completed story in that kind of shape without ripping the first half to shreds to “fix it.”
Imagine you have a half-built house. On the outside, it might look great. But on the inside, you know the gas lines will explode the first moment they’re connected to a stove, the electricity will short and cause a fire if you plug anything in, and the only reason the house isn’t flooded is because you’ve turned off the supply at the curb. And let’s not even look at the snakes slithering up the toilets, the cracks in the foundation, and the sinkhole ready to eat the whole house.
Would that house be worth “finishing”? Or would you call it a loss and move on? 🙂 Thanks for the comment!
First off, thanks to Jami for her response. She pretty much said it all. It’s been nearly 3 years since I left that story, and I have grown as writer. I would definitely have to go back and start all over again as Jami said, and I don’t have the time or the drive to do that.
Thanks for the comment!