Getting fanfics published

Recently I’ve found a number of writers on the web asking how they can publish a story they finished in the fanfiction genre. Fanfiction includes stories based on already established characters, places, and plots from movies, books, comics, and video games. The problem with trying to publish in fanfiction boils down to copyright. In an already established world, elements of the genre are copyrighted by the original creator. This means Star Wars is owned by George Lucus, and Harry Potter belongs to J. K. Rowling.

I myself faced plagerism of a story a few years back. Oddly enough, it was “Challenges”, one of my Morrowind Fanfics. Someone simply cut and paste in a message thread and claimed he wrote the 150,000 word piece, and wanted to submit the story to the creators of Morrowind (Bethesda) to publish. Bethesda already announced some time before they will not publish fanfiction. A moderator on the message board contacted me and asked me if I had give this guy permission to keep the story as his own.

I was, at first, flattered that someone thought the story good enough to steal, but then it settled in my brain that ‘Hey, someone stole my story!”. Reading the threads he posted on, trying to spin off my writing as his, proved infuriating. People were complimenting him, telling him what a great writer he was. All the accolade were meant for my skill, my effort, and even what I created. He was banned from the message boards, and the story pulled from the thread.

From this experience, I gained more regard for those who originally create a world and characters. I gained gratitude to those willing to allow for fanfiction because not all mediums do, and respect for those who ask writers to stick to their own work. J.K. Rowling allows and even encourages fanfiction, while Anne Rice of the Vampire novels will threaten litigation against you if you try.

“But I’ve seen books on Star Wars, Star Trek, and even Dungeon and Dragons! Aren’t they fanfiction?” Yes they are, but the difference being the publisher asked already established writers to write in the medium for them. This means you, as a writer, will need to build your name first before writing in this genre professionally. Also bear in mind that fanfiction is copyrighted already by someone else.

Some might argue that its cheating to write in another creator’s realm. I’ve found a number of authors who actually write better than the original. I also find its a fun genre to write in and can offer a number of challenges to either enhance or otherwise improve the selected fandom. In fact, the very reason why J.K. Rowling supports fanfiction of her work is because it ‘gets kids to write’. I agree. For practice and honing writing skills, why not pick something you can enjoy?

Overall, however, you will need to write something original to publish as your own.

For fanfiction, see:

Fanfiction.net one of the largest fanfiction sites that categorizes by title and fandom.

Fanfiction Directory – somewhat limited in choices, but carries a number of fanfiction you may not find elsewhere.

Dragon Library – Includes a number of Forgotten Realm fanfiction. I highly recommend Spider Bite and Initiation. The author truly captured the world of the Drow and developed a wonderful story based on R.A. Salvatore’s world.

Forgotten Realm Fanfiction includes stories based on the games and RPG game sources.

Harry Potter Fanfiction has thousands of fanfics of the Harry Potter world.

Lord of the Rings Fanfiction delves into the realm of Lord of the Rings.

Star Wars Fanfiction at The Force

Star Trek Fanfiction includes stories broken down by Star Trek TV series

 Short story in the paranormal genre. Only $.99 for Kindle.

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46 Comments

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46 responses to “Getting fanfics published

  1. Stephanie

    So, what if some (professional) people who read and approved of your fanfic think you could get it published? Would it be okay to do so, or would it be better to just not act on it because of the suing frenzy?

  2. Any professional writer should know that fanfiction cannot be published without expressed permission from the original author. Fanfiction is not original work, meaning the original author of the media (movie, book, cartoon, etc) owns the rights to the characters, story, and anything they created. Fanfiction writes using the characters, story, etc created by another author, and therefore considered plagiarism. I wouldn’t suggest trying to publish, but perhaps trying to make the story original and publishing that.

  3. Stephanie

    Okay, I understand it now. Thank you very much~ ^^

  4. gyulyana

    well i would have to say that the exception to the rule is fanfiction based on clasical writers such as jane austen. there are many published works based on her books. i suposse copyright does not extend to her time period.

  5. I’ve got a fanfic set in a universe imagined in a video game. How would I go about asking the company that holds the rights for permission to publish this work. More than mere permission, I’d be willing to give up most of the profit from the published work to the rights holder. I’m seeing this as a business venture where they get the profit and I get my name on a published work. Some small profit for me would be nice : )

    I have been published before this, but not in big name magazines.

    • You could contact the game manufacturer and ask if they have any interest. Fanfics are nearly impossible to publish, however.
      If you’re not interested in money, you might want to consider a site http://www.fanfiction.net and publish there. Its free to join, but don’t expect money for your work. Check the first suggestion first if your’e serious. Don’t mention about them making all the profit until you see their first reaction.
      Best of luck

    • Ana (R.D.)

      I get your point Neal. I’ve written several fanfic about a game universe – FF7 – and I would love to have those stories in paperback format for myself. Hell, if someone would wanted too, there would be nice to have it on amazon free for e-book download and/or POD paperback. Absolutely making no profit of it whatsoever. It was just a small indulgence of having the story available outside the ff.net domain. There are times that I don’t have my PC around, or I don’t have internet to check on the site and read the story I want. And if I had it on my shelf or in my Kindle/Ipad, whatever (E-book reader), I wouldn’t have to bother.
      I guess that, considering what was told here, I would have to contact -in this case, Square Enix; and then, after having the “yes, you may” from them, I could engage in some POD-publishing site and “conceive” the book with the story.
      Is that it? If that’s the way it works I’m willing to give it a try… :)

      I am a published author (both in my native and english language) and let me tell you, I’ve read fanfiction with better quality than published, huge hit books. I just think that some of those stories have potential. And, at least, those stories deserve to be on the shelves or inside the e-readers of those who enjoy reading them.

      Any advice, let me know! Great blog you have here! Congrats!
      Oh, just a quick question: it was mentioned that before the internet invasion, there were fanfiction mags. Any name? Do those mags still exist?
      Thanks*
      Ana

      • From what i understand, some fanfiction were published via sci-fi magazines or magazines specific to a genre. Some examples would be Star Wars or Star Trek. Spockanalia was one such Star Trek fan fic magazine. These were generally sold via sci-fi conventions, or through mail order.
        I think primarily you should not receive monies from a fanfiction work, you can create it in ebook format so people can download. OpenOffice offers a very easy way to easily make PDF documents you can create, upload somewhere on the net, and have people download (and even import into Kindles)
        I also found this which you might find interesting- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_issues_with_fan_fiction#Advocacy_regarding_the_legality_of_fan_fiction

  6. Thanks for the advice. That’s just what I intend to do. Any recommendations on how to contact a large software developer about spinning off a book based on a game they released in the 90′s? I’m afraid the receptionist would turn me away at the front door.

    • Go to Google.com and put in the game’s name. It should take you directly to their official site on the first page of ‘hits’. Find their contact page, and ask for information in regards to publishing or even possibly marketing. Someone should be able to direct you to where you need to go.
      Good luck!

  7. Barb

    I have a Twilight fan fiction book I have written and would like to ask Stephenie Meyer’s permission to publish it. I am unsure how to go about it. It’s a 15 chapter book (over 104,000 words). She’s a fairly new author so I am hoping she would go for it. Any suggestions?

  8. Barb

    No, she doesn’t read fanmail. It actually states it on her site. She does not have an email address listed, though her brother Seth Meyers does and I have not heard back from him. My only option would be to send a copy of it to her Publisher and make a request. Is this a good or bad idea? Do you know of anyone who’s tried it?

  9. Its my understanding that fanfiction doesn’t get published, no matter how good it might be. The characters belong to Myers. I suppose it can’t hurt to try. Just keep in mind that the publisher will likely refer you to publish for free via Fanfiction.net

  10. Barbara

    Thanks. Frootbat. TRue. Guess it doesnt hurt to ask.

  11. I try to keep my work my own, but material is hard to keep rewording and even harder to publish without the ligalities comming about…i say have your own very different outlook and back story or just never publish a book…find a different line of work!

  12. Most of the times i visit a blog I notice that most blogs are amateurish. Regarding your blog,I have to say that you have done a good job here.

  13. jelzmar

    I know that you are talking about traditional publishing, but as long as you make no money from it you can self-publish your fanfiction and sell it that way. You CANNOT MAKE money though. That would require the author’s permission. Before everyone was on the internet, they had fanfiction magazines. It cost to make the magazine and the broken even on sales. That is legal, you just can’t make money. Sorry for repeating myself, but I’ve noticed some people don’t get that point. If you paint a painting of the Harry Potter characters and make money off of it, then you are guilty of plagiarism. But if you paint the painting for your sister, as a gift it isn’t.

    The girl that asked about her own fanfiction, probably did want to make money from it. But I wish more fanfiction authors would sell their books at cost. I wouldn’t buy them all, but I have some favorites that I would love on my bookshelf.

    • In a legal sense, however, copying, regardless of money earned or not, is considered copyright infringement. The author (or artist, screenwriters, etc) decided, they can sue you for copyright infringement, as Anne Rice of the Vampire Chronicles has been known to do. She doesn’t care if you’re making money or not- her characters are not open to anyone else to write about them. If its anywhere on the public forums, she’s been known to send out lawyers.
      “Rice has an adamant stance against fan fiction based on her work, releasing a statement on April 7, 2000, that prohibited all such efforts.[89] This caused the removal of thousands of fanfics from the FanFiction.Net website.”
      Most authors don’t seem to mind. Even with my writing, should someone decide to write a fanfiction based on one of my original works, I could decide to press charges, regardless if they earn money from it or not.
      What you describe is correct- in Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands, but in the USA, any copying without permission is considered copyright infringement. Or this is how I understand the law. This doesn’t mean, however, its easy to enforce.
      And I agree with fanfiction. Some of stories I’ve found on the Web are just amazing.

      • jelzmar

        I thought fanfiction.net did that out of ‘respect for the author’ as they put it on the bottom of their guidelines page. Her actions actually made me not respect her, and I will never read any of her books because of it. Or anyone else’s that is against fanfiction no matter how good of a writer they are.

        Legally no one has pushed it far enough to really tell. Most say that it falls under fair use, since you credit the author, make no money from it and it is a creative work. Some say that it doesn’t. I believe it does and has more right to be written and not make any money from, than Saturday Night Live, Family Guy and South Park has to MAKE money, because the are under parody. Since they have been proven to be legal, I don’t see how fan-fiction could not. They make money and a lot of it from taking things from popular media and making fun of them. How can taking things from popular media, expanding on the ideas and NOT making money be illegal when making money is fine, if you make fun of it? Either way you are doing your own creative work, based on something that is popular in the media.

        The thing is fan fiction is written by fans. They like the authors, so when the author’s complain they comply and never take it to court. If it was taken to court, the fan fiction author’s would probably win based on what the law states. The few cases that actually went to court prove this, but the only one that lost, lost because the made money from it.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_issues_with_fan_fiction#Arguments_for_the_legality_of_fan_fiction
        http://www.whoosh.org/issue25/lee1a.html#41
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction

  14. Sasha

    I am almost certain that this is pointless and impossible, but do you think that there’s any way of publishing a fan fiction that you created from an overseas story? To ask for that author’s permission, would I have to have someone translate the message for them and myself (like a third-party communicator)? I don’t know if that made any sense, sorry.

    • I would think its highly unlikely. You can find translating service, even web site services to do this for you. However, consider an author who wrote an original story with original character, and someone comes along hoping to publish (and get paid) off of their hard work? I suppose you can always ask, Also check out- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fan_fiction#Legality this provides some details on the legality of fanfiction. Some authors allow publication of fanzines providing the author follows guidelines.

  15. What about authors who’ve passed away? Whom do we contact if we want to publish some sort of fan-fiction?

    • It depends on who now owns the copyright. Some authors pass down the copyright to their children. Some books are known as ‘public domain’. The works of Shakespeare, for instance, is under public domain.

  16. I feel that the fanfiction I write should be allowed to be published, not because “I’m special and I’m a better writer than everyone else” but because I beleive that, unlike most fanfic writers, I the fanfiction that I write isn’t already made up for me, I mainly write fanfiction for bands, My Chemical Romance is the band that I mainly write about, the setting in most of my stories is California 2019 which was their “Danger Days” album. The overall album doesn’t give you much to work with and you basically have to create the whole thing from scratch, and because I make the characters (Frank, Gerard, Mikey, and Ray) so unlike what they are in real life, you could just look at the story as a simple Drabble. I’m an aspiring writter and photo journalist and I got into fanfiction because I wanted to expand on my writing techniques. I didn’t expect to get farther in my fanfiction career than in my actual writting. On the site I post my stories on I have so far this month gotten 987 hits from people mainly living in the UK but also the US, Egypt, Canada, Indonessia and much more. I just wish that it was ok to publish fanfic. I think myself and many other writers would benifite from this. Thank you for reading this.
    Sincerely,
    Rose C.

    • I wonder if you contacted the band if they’d allow for it?

      • Thank you for the reply, and I was wondering the same thing. I see some flaws though, the band that I write about might have some issues over the subject matter, although I am not the only writter that has made fanfics on this subject, I feel that the band would react badly, and they truely are my favorite band, so it would hurt to know they disaprove of my writing. Another factor to why I have not contacted them is mainly because I do not know how to :( and another is because I am only 15 and I would not know how to even begin to ask them if it were ok for me to write fanfiction on them…

      • Thank you again for the reply, and that’s a really interesting idea. I honestly wouldn’t have come to that conclusion. Thank you for your advice! :)
        sincerley,
        Rose C.

  17. im righting a book about twilight how do I send it to stephine meyer so she could tell me if I could publish it or not.

    • Fanfiction doesn’t get published, although you can publish your work via Fanfiction.net or other places. Being the characters are owned by Myers, you cannot publish them. But if you persist, you could send it to her publishing company or ask them how to contact her.

  18. Anna

    I don’t understand why Anne Rice hates fanfiction. It’s not like it could be published, so what’s her issue? Frankly, I would be flattered if someone enjoyed my story enough to write a fanfiction about it.

    • I agree. Maybe she feels threatened? No writer should, in my humble opinion. I once had a reader of my fanfics ask if she could write something with one of my characters, and I loved the idea. I only expect credit, just as many writers do.

  19. I’m currently writing a fanfiction for Pokémon, and I was wondering – is it legal or even possible to publish one single copy for myself only? It’s almost finished and, to be honest, I’d just like to see my own work on my bookshelf or my e-reader, but none of my original stories generally make it past chapter one because I can’t focus.

    Returning to my question, do you know if it would be possible to publish only one private copy?

  20. Pingback: My Top Ten Posts | A Writer's Journey

  21. Nina

    I’m writing a fanfic about a music band. There are no published stories about them or anything like that. That’s different than writin a fanfic about, I don’t know… Twilight. Right? So I can publish it without asking anyone right? And I can publish it on one of those sights that you mentioned earlier?

  22. Becki

    Okay. I’m currently writing a story that has the band members of My Chemical Romance in it. Other then that, it’s my own story, my orignal characters, and my own plot. Is this considered fanfiction? And if it isn’t(which I’m kinda hoping it isn’t) is it possible to get it published?

  23. Alex

    What if you write a characters backstory from a book and have permission from the orignal author can you publish it?

  24. Haley Sullivan

    I have written a fan fiction on the band One Direction and I’ve already typed 212 pages. Is there a possibility I can get it published it I notify the Manager of the band? Thanks.

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