Last time I blogged about how swimming across a lake with a bunch of Girl Scouts got me a book deal, but that was in a very metaphorical sense. Today I’m going to tell you what got me a book deal in a very literal sense (among other things, like superhero CPs and a magic agent and a lot of hard work):
Pokemon got me a book deal.
Okay. Rewind. I know you’re confused.
Yesterday I was on Tumblr, and I read this great simple comic about bullying and its effects of self-esteem – this comic
(it’s actually a pair of comics). There are fantastic comics like that all over Tumblr, and they’re all for free. I started thinking how much those artists probably love to draw them, and how lucky I am that I can get paid for doing the thing I love, and how I would pay to see original art on Tumblr just so more people could get paid to do the thing they love.
You’ve probably heard about the fact that Amazon just announced a publishing platform to let authors sell fanfiction, but if not, look here
I was already planning on writing a post about fanfiction, so I guess I’ll start there and then we can talk about the Amazon thing.
Lots of people have cool stories about the moment they decided to become writers. Mine isn’t cool. It started with Neopets in fifth grade, with the first long thing I ever wrote being a 100-page Neopets fanfiction that the site published on its Neopian Times. I was ten and I got to see my work professionally formatted and released to a large audience. I also got fan mail (Neopets mail specifically).
It was fucking awesome.
Once you get a taste of being published, you want more.
The second long thing I ever wrote (agh I keep talking about myself I hope I’m not boring you) was a 900-page Pokemon fanfiction when I was somewhere-between-twelve-and-thirteen, and that got pretty popular. It got so popular that I decided my Real Books would obviously be equally popular in the real world and that I better quit fanfiction so I could become the most famous author ever.
Cue five years of gradually realizing that my urban fantasy ripoff-of-Pokemon-fanfiction-and-Avatar-the-Last-Airbender was never going to get off the ground.
(And then I wrote PLEASE DON’T TELL and I know I need to shut up but I just got my PM announcement so I’m going to put it here because I’m a dork, even though it has nothing to do with the post:)
(okay shutting up back to our regularly scheduled everything else)
Anyway, the point is that fanfiction is the reason I knew I had to be an author. I needed that taste of what it would be like, that motivation, and fanfiction gave it to me. I wrote fanfiction first. There, I said it. My family probably reads this.
The thing I’m suspecting is that at least a few other authors must have started out the same way. I know of at least one (my CP hiiiiii) who began the EXACT same way, giant Pokemon fanfiction and all. I also know one thing for sure: those are my roots. I’m not gonna forget them, however dorky those roots might be.
So Amazon announces that it’s setting up a thing where people can get paid for their fanfiction and my first reaction is, awesome.
Of course, it kind of messes up the original point of this post, where I was basically going to say that fanfiction is great because kicks off real writers into their real careers. And then I realized how fucked up that is.
Who the hell am I to say what’s real writing and what’s not?
Fanfiction isn’t really separated from the publishing world anymore. Look at Fifty Shades (though I know a bunch of us would prefer not to). There are other examples. We all know that publishing is evolving, blah blah, and maybe part of that is fanfiction joining the party. This Amazon thing definitely has fanfiction joining the party.
I think my first instinct is to be like “oh wow new party guests hi here’s the punch” rather than “we were at this party way before you so go away and I’m hiding the punch.”
The truth is, I’ve been at this party for approximately two weeks. And I really, really remember what it feels like to love characters so much that you want to bring them into new worlds, take them in new directions, even if you didn’t make them up – to adopt someone else’s baby and raise it into a badass person in the way only you know how.
I’ve written fanfiction that changed my life, and I’ve read fanfiction that changed my life. And I can’t think of a single reason to look down on fanfiction that feels legitimate to me.
This Amazon thing might not go smoothly. Fanfiction readers might not be willing to start paying for something they can already get easily for free. I dunno how many shows/authors/etc will offer up their licenses. I kind of have no idea how it will work out at all, and the royalties that will actually go to the fanfiction author look pretty pitiful to me. And there’s no doubt that Amazon is just doing it because they think it’ll be profitable for them, not the authors.
I’m sure smarter people will write smarter stuff about this whole thing. You should probably read what they write.
I just wanted to say that I always want people to get paid for doing what they love, because it means that they’re able to do what they love.
And I think fanfiction deserves better street cred.
What about you? Did you write fanfiction before you decided to pursue publication? Have you read fanfiction, when you were younger or otherwise? How do you feel about Amazon commercializing it?
EDIT: Two sidenotes I forgot to mention (that also have nothing to do with the post)
Check out this Query/First Page Critique Workshop auction. Proceeds go to benefit the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. A fantastic auction for a fantastic cause.
Other thing: I’ll be traveling in China from May 27th to June 17th, so I won’t be posting and I won’t have much access to internet – if you really need to contact me, email is best, because I’ll try to check it periodically.
EDIT NUMERO TWO: Look at this post by John Scalzi for some excellent preliminary thoughts on the actual terms of Amazon’s proposal.