What’s your best chance of being published RIGHT NOW?
Last week an article in Vanity Fair website suggested that on the back of the Fifty Shades of Grey film erotic fiction was still a good way of convincing a publisher that you’re a writer worth investing in. But it is HOW E.L James first came to readers’ attention that is perhaps the most interesting information for emerging writers.
photo credit Mike Mozart/Creative Commons
When the first of her Shades of Grey trilogy was published in 2012 I read a number of articles that described E.L.James as as a SELF-PUBLISHED author who had broken through to the big time, perhaps you read the same articles as well. (Although even then people were beginning to query if that was an accurate description as she wasn’t known within the online self-publishing community and she seemed to catapult to fame on a zero to hero flight.) It seems the story is rather different and E.L. James’ route to publication is not only still open today, it may also be the best way of getting noticed.
The trilogy started out as posts on Fanfiction.net as an erotic take on Twilight. Because of its popularity on the website the first book was released by a small publisher as an e-book and a print-on-demand title. After a bidding war when all the major US publishing houses declared their interest, E.L. James signed a seven-figure contract with Random House – the rest is history.
COULD YOU DO THE SAME?
The short answer is yes and it doesn’t need to be erotic fiction.
photo credit: Superhero Self Portrait via photopin (license)
Fan fiction has been around in some form or other for many years. It’s a term applied to writing that it is immersed in the fictional world created by another writer, usually but not always, using the same characters. Since the development of the internet, fan fiction has the ability to reach out to a very loyal and very greedy readership across the world. I visited http://www.fanfiction.net for the first time today and found thousand of stories being read and reviewed by readers. Here’s a selection (I’ve only chosen a few of the ones I recognise – there are many I’ve never heard of):
Harry Potter (706K)
Lord of the Rings (53K)
Hunger Games (42K)
Chronicles of Narnia (11.3K)
Artemis Fowl (5.5K)
Les Miserables (4.4K)
Sherlock Holmes (3.8K)
Pride and Prejudice (3.5K)
Peter Pan (2.8K)
Fifty Shades Trilogy (2.1K)
I looked at the Little Women section (with a modest 330 stories) and discovered full length novels written in serial form, with eager readers waiting for the next installment, and short standalone scenes and perfectly formed vignettes. Many were about Jo and Lawrence falling in love and staying in love – in a flash I understood the attraction of fan fiction because isn’t that what should have happened the first time round? In other stories Beth doesn’t die, Jo March discovers that her very new husband snores, picnics are eaten, outings taken and all of these events, the major and minor, stay rigidly within the confines and vocabulary of the original world. They have to because their fans will know straightaway if they put a foot wrong
Apparently, literary agents sometimes search through fan fiction sites for new talent. But it is more likely that writers will approach agents in the conventional way, but adding their fan fiction popularity as an important credential. London-based literary agent Lorella Belli says in Vanity Fair that submissions from fan fiction authors are often higher in quality than the average submission. “Readers of fan fiction are much more sophisticated than most people give them credit for—they’re quite discerning.” So, FF writers come with a writing ability forged in the heat of public criticism plus they can prove they can build an audience for their work and keep it. You can see why the publishing world is taking notice.
Could this be a route to publication for you? This post has barely covered the subject. You will find out more by studying these articles and websites.
Have you read any fan fiction?
Have you written any fan fiction?
Please tell us about your experiences in the comments section below – and, of course, also give your thoughts on this subject.
By the way, one thing I have discovered in my research is that most fan fiction authors are women: young, old and middle aged.
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