How do we determine success as authors? Is it when we get published? When we make the Best Sellers List? Or maybe is it when we hit it big by getting a movie deal for our books?
Of course, all three of these are things that I would like to see. My goal is to become a published author and see my novel in book shops across the country. And if my book is a best seller, that means more people are reading and enjoying the project I dedicated so much time to. Plus getting a movie deal would be pretty amazing, as unlikely as it is.
I’ve mentioned before how I want people to write fanfiction about my novels, and just a couple of weeks ago I achieved that goal.
But my novel isn’t even published yet. In fact I’ve not even finished writing it!
The novel in question is FanFact, which still has about 10,000 words to go before it’s complete. I’m hoping to have the rough draft done this month (though my trip to Acen could make this tough), but that hasn’t stopped my friends from writing stories about my book.
So far, two people have read my partially-finished manuscript in its entirety; my wife and a friend of mine from college who has a Masters degree in literature/writing. My wife is my target audience, so I love getting her opinion on my story, plot, and characters to see if it is resonating. My friend is highly critical and an excellent writer, so I highly value their opinions.
Both of them wrote fanfiction about my novel several weeks ago. My friend presented a fanfiction to me along with their critique of the novel-in-progress. My wife wrote her own fanfiction at our writing retreat in Lake Geneva. Both of the fanfictions were a lot of fun, and both made me incredibly flattered.
Because people writing fanfiction about my work means they care enough about my characters to spend their own time creating something that brings them no gains. They can’t even publish the fanfiction online because the novel doesn’t even officially exist! That means they both simply liked my story enough that they wanted to write something for themselves, for me, and for each other to read.
I have to say that’s pretty damn flattering.
Authors don’t write for fame. So many of the things we write won’t even be seen by another person, let alone millions of people. Even authors who get published and sell a lot of books probably can’t live off that income alone. While being a full-time author is the dream of me, and many, financially it simply isn’t very likely. What I want is to write books that make people feel things, and I really want to write books that can create a fandom, not just fans.
The Difference Between Having Fans & Fandom
Ok, stick with me here, because there actually is a difference.
It is possible to have fans without having fandom, though the two are similar. Fans are people who enjoy a particular piece of media. Fandom, on the other hand, is an entire subculture dedicated to a piece of media.
A fandom is referred to as its own entity. “The Sherlock fandom is crazy.” “The Boku No Hero Academia Fandom is huge!” “The Merlin Fandom is still around, but it’s pretty quiet now.” In that sense, fandom refers to how active fans are being about a piece of media, rather than just enjoying it.
I’m a fan of the Marvel universe, but I’m not a part of the Marvel fandom. I don’t read the lore, I don’t create or consume fan-created media, and I don’t keep updated on all the latest news.
Now the Sherlock fandom, well, it got me my wife so I really like the Sherlock fandom.
I’d love to see more fanfiction for my work, and I’d also love to see fanart and cosplay as well! I want there to be a community around my books.
I also feel that fandom has become more widely accepted. In my lifetime I have never been bullied for being involved in fandom. Certainly there are plenty of people who aren’t involved in fandom who are my age, but “Normals” don’t seem to find fandom all that strange like they used to.
My college friend wrote the first fanfiction for FanFact (which upset my wife a lot) as part of a critique for my manuscript. The logic was by reading this fanfiction I could get a better idea of how my readers were characterizing my...well, characters!
This fanfiction focused on Blane and Orion. I don’t think Orion has been mentioned on this blog before, but I wasn’t surprised this friend wrote about Orion. The story mentions Liam and Clara and could actually fit into the canon timeline of FanFact, which was really cool to see.
My wife, on the other hand, didn’t involve Clara at all. Her story would have taken place before Clara made it to the world, and interestingly, also involved Orion. Deanna did really well understanding my character’s voices, probably because I talk about my characters all the time.
Impacts on FanFact
The main takeaway I got from these two fanfictions is that I need to spend a bit more time developing my character's’ personalities. While my wife knew exactly how to write my characters my writing friend didn’t, which means I need to spend less time talking about these characters and more time interjecting their personality into the text.
I’d already planned to write more about Orion, but the fact that my friend and wife wrote him completely differently showed me I really need to work on developing him more.
And having people write fanfiction about my novel inspires me to keep working on it.
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