1. BBCotaku
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    BBCotaku Member

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    To Publish or not to Publish?

    Discussion in 'Publisher Discussion' started by BBCotaku, Feb 8, 2016.

    I have recently reached the 75,000 word mark in my manuscript and have had many a friend and family member badger me to get it published--or at least try. And I wish to, it is my dream to become an author (as cliched as that is)

    However, my work's first draft originated as a short 45,000 word fanfiction I posted online.

    I've edited it, added to it, cleaned and polished it to a 76,000 word and counting story of my own creation, but I fear the sending it off due to not knowing if a)

    I should tell the publishers/agents in my submittion.

    B) If it will be overlooked because of its history

    Or c) if any of this is legal.

    I've made the mistake of falling in love with the characters and story of this book. They are like my children and the world is my own. I don't want to abandon it. I've changed a fanfiction about a lovecraftian radio station into a steampunk, demon hunting fantasy and I have no idea what to do about it.

    What should I do?
     
  2. DoctorDoom
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    Well, first make sure the characters all have their names changed. Otherwise that's plagiarism. Then, verify that their personalities, histories and them in general aren't carbon copies of characters in the original work that inspired your novel.

    Remove your fan fiction from online and use the google 'remove outdated content' request to get it removed from search engines so the publishers can't find it and say you self-published your book. Ask everyone who could have a copy of it to delete the copy and ask the web service host to expunge all records of your fan fiction from their site.

    OR

    Verify that your final draft is vastly different than your initial one and change the wording so that it doesn't quote it word for word, verbatim. (which, as you described it, it would be) then, after giving the publisher your official manuscript, give them the initial version from the fan fiction and explain with much nostalgia how your humble fan fiction morphed into a great work of literature. I hate to use this as an example for anything, but 50 shades of gray was both a fan fiction and initially available online so, you know, so long as your charismatic about it anything is possible.

    OR

    You combine both of the options and acknowledge that the initial concept was online at one point (it being fan-fiction), say that you thoroughly expunged all record of it (and that they can try looking for it if they want) and give them both versions of the story to compare.

    In any case I don't think you should not publish something because it was originally fan fiction and partially available online.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm slightly confused. Is the work taken from someone else's work, or is it taken from your own work, that you published elsewhere?
     
  4. BBCotaku
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    BBCotaku Member

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    It originated as a fanfic, but I've changed it a great deal.
     
  5. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    The issue with publishing fan fiction is always how closely it relates to the original work and what the conditions of the licence are. You need to check that out.

    But in addition to that because you've published it online in whatever form, any agents / publishers will need to know about that as well, as even though the work is changed, it's still been previously published.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  6. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    How close was the fanfiction to the original source material?

    If it was AU, RPF, or whatever, I wouldn't worry too much - make sure you do a good job of streamlining and updating the whole thing, make sure there are no fanfic clues, and go for it. I honestly might not even mention the fanfic origins in this case. (It would depend how closely the final version resembles the online version, and how well you're able to scrub the online version from the internet).

    If it was a pretty straightforward fanfic (like, Harry and Hermione solved some etra mysteries at Hogwarts) it will be harder to make it feel original.

    There are lots of stories that start as fanfic, especially in some genres - it doesn't have to be a big deal. I'd suggest not mentioning it in your original query letters, and then when you actually speak to agents/editors, you can mention that a certain book/movie was your inspiration and you actually played with some of the ideas from your finished novel as fanfic, or something along those lines. It'll set off alarm bells, probably, but if they're already interested in the work, you've got a better chance than if they just throw out your query as soon as they see the word "fanfic".

    The other option would be to use the fanfic audience as a selling point. If you had really good numbers for your fanfic, you could actually use that as a selling point - there were 10 000 people reading this fic, and a good number of them will be willing to pay to find out how it ends. Something like that.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Is it possible to make it unrecognisable as fan fic? I mean change as much as you can without undermining your story? All names, locations, etc. In other words, make it so it will appeal to readers of the original (the one that inspired you) but won't be thought of as a rip-off or copy?

    If I understand the term, fan-fic takes characters and settings from an established work and creates new stories around them. So if you change their names, ages, appearance, even gender as well, change the setting, the backstory—then you will have written an original story. Or at least it will look that way to most people.

    If you do this well enough, you can probably market it to the publishers of the original as something that will appeal to readers of ...whatever the original was called. That's a win/win, isn't it?
     
  8. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    Just to add, as a guide you might want to examine Fifty Shades of Grey which began as a fanfic of Twilight, which was then renamed and self pubbed on line, then turned into a book with new characters. I haven't seen either fifty shades or Twilight, but since there is no lawsuit as far as I know pending between Meyers and James, it might give you a guide as to how different is different enough.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
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  9. Anomona
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    Anomona New Member

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    I agree that its origins as fan fiction should not make too much of a difference. As regards pursuing your dream, yes, just do it. You will regret many things in this life, but pursuing your dream is not going to be one of them.
     
  10. terobi
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    terobi Contributing Member

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    If it's different enough to the original property, then it shouldn't be any problem - I've seen plenty of books that are clearly based on someone else's universe to some extent, but they're tweaked enough to be original. What's the saying? Good writers borrow, great writers steal?

    What may be more of an issue is the fact that you've had a version posted publicly online before. As far as I can tell, agents and publishers prefer honesty here. They'd much rather you let them know that a version of something has been posted online before, even a very different version, than them accidentally stumble upon it later.
     
  11. Mike Kobernus
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    If I might interject on the topic of should I/shouldn't I, the answer is almost always NO, not yet.

    The reason?

    I believe that you said that you edited it yourself.

    That is a huge mistake. Not because you are not capable of editing, necessarily, but because you are simply too close to it.

    My advice would be to seek independent confirmation that the manuscript is up to par. I believe it is better to have an unhappy shock now, before anyone sees it, than after it is published.

    Seek out an editor, and get their take on it. If a reputable editor gives it the thumbs up, then I withdraw my comments!
     
  12. NiallRoach
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    Certainly true, but not exactly relevant to the OP's question of "Will my MS' starting as fanfiction be a problem?"
     
  13. Mike Kobernus
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    Mike Kobernus Contributing Member

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    Still very relevant to the eventual question of actually publishing, though.
     
  14. TheRealStegblob
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    I wouldn't be so paranoid that it began as a fanfiction. You have to remember, Fifty Shades of Grey started out a self-professed fanfiction of fucking Twilight, and even though a novel like Fifty Shades is a huge exception and not a rule, I think it goes to prove that an original story growing out from a pre-existing one is something fairly accepted in the writing world. You have people who go one step further and just claim that whole "great artists steal" lark and everything, so I really wouldn't be too worried.

    The only stigma I'd feel you'd receive is you'd have to bill yourself as "yet another author with a book they wrote that started out as fanfiction", which is something I'm sure quite a few people will, sadly, roll their eyes at when they see and immediately pre-judge your story to be shitty. Of course you could make attempts to 'cover your tracks' and hide that it was ever once a fanfiction, but people forget little and the internet forgets even less. What's worse, being a self-professed fanfiction author, or potentially being caught years from now that your breakout debut novel that everyone loved was, in reality, once a fanfiction of something embarrassing?
     

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