Since I’m heading to my first con as a “real writer” next week, I thought it was time I put up a post about my take on fan fiction written in my worlds/featuring my characters, since there is, uh, rumor that some may be floating around. That way I can refer back to it whenever I get asked the question (because it’s inevitable this will come up, unless you’re the type of writer who doesn’t write character-driven fiction, in which case, nobody cares enough about your characters to bother. Cat Valente says this all much better than I can).
First, I’m incredibly happy you love these worlds and characters enough to write about them. That is so wacky awesome I can’t even say. When you write all kinds of wicked crap like I do, all you can do is hope somebody loves a character or two half as much as you do. To find folks who love them MORE than I do is great.
That said, PLEASE do not send me links to fan fiction of my work, or tell me where to find some. Here’s why:
There is this tricky law to do with copyright that says that if I actually see somebody “infringing” on my copyright (writing in my worlds/about my characters), I must “defend” that copyright by immediately issuing a cease and desist and etc. If I don’t do this, then a lawyer could argue that because I didn’t defend it then, that anybody could just start publishing copies of GOD’S WAR (with or without my name attached) and start selling them for $50 a pop and not only would I not get a cent, but there would be nothing I could do about it – because I hadn’t defended my copyright on the work when it was initially infringed by a fan fiction writer just doing it for fun.
That… sucks. There’s nothing I’d like better than to share and engage with fan fiction (I would LOVE to have a whole fan fiction message board here! Alas), but if that opens the door to somebody else writing and selling books with characters I created and making money off it while I’m still alive (or even my own books! And not pay me anything for them!) – well, sorry. Book money pays for stuff like vacations, home improvements, car repairs, and holiday gift-giving. Yes, I can do without that stuff, but I have absolutely no intention of my 15 years of hard work (and continuing work) just evaporating overnight. I like to have a good time with what I do, but I’m not a fucking doormat.
Folks vastly underestimate the time and effort that goes into writing books. I work a 40-hour day job (copywriting), do freelance writing an additional five hours or so a week, and then write an additional 10-20 hours of fiction a week. This doesn’t including blogging, interviews, marketing time, accounting time, or any other administrative work. All that additional work netted me about $8,000 last year (before taxes).
It’s not like I’m swimming in gold, here.
So though I may not personally give a care in the world if you write, share and post fan fiction (just don’t tell me about it! I’m not allowed to read it!), the minute somebody tries to sell something that infringes my copyright, well, THEN I am going to “become aware” of it – and that’s when the agent, the publisher, and the lawyer get involved.
So, quoting Cat Valente again: “Don’t make money off it and we’re cool.”
I love writing books. I love people reading my books. I love people loving my books and the people in them.
Thank you for loving my books.