The fan fiction gold rush, generational turnover, and the battle for fandom’s soul

Authored by: Mel Stanfill

The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom

Print publication date:  November  2017
Online publication date:  November  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138638921
eBook ISBN: 9781315637518
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315637518.ch8

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Abstract

The runaway success of Fifty Shades of Grey (James, 2012), which began its life as Twilight (Meyer, 2006) fan fiction “Master of the Universe,” has led to something of a fan fiction gold rush. Amazon.com entered the market with its 2013 announcement of the Kindle Worlds platform, which would allow authors to sell fan fiction e-books for certain intellectual properties for which Amazon had negotiated licenses. This was followed by After (Todd, 2014), which began on mobile-centric reading and writing platform, Wattpad, as real-person fiction (RPF) about the boy band One Direction. By early 2016, the small lesbian press Ylva Publishing had produced several novels that had been reworked from femslash fan fictions (Hughes, 2015; Radley, 2016). Fan creative production and the value it produces—in terms of meaning, commitment, and promotion—are as old as fandom itself, but they are now being approached in new ways. These contemporary forms of recognition and encouragement of fan practices by the culture industries, as well as the contemporary expansion of monetization, differ dramatically from previous modes of fannish production. They are, first, a notable departure from fandom’s historical organization as a gift economy. Additionally, these new forms of monetization diverge from older routes to making money from fan labor. The fan fiction gold rush has met with mixed reactions—embraced by some, decried by others. This demonstrates tensions between older, more communitarian models of fandom and contemporary, individualistic, market-based ones, raising the possibility that generational shifts may result in the crowding out of previous traditions.

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