Each season we announce our new titles individually, each in their own post, to give you a little extra background behind the book. If you’ve missed any, you can check them all out here. All of Fall 2013”²s intro posts are here.
When Anne Jamison’s book proposal for Fic: Why Fanfiction Is Taking Over the World showed up in my inbox, it wasn’t the first time we’d thought about publishing a book on fanfiction. It wasn’t the first fanfiction book proposal we’d considered. It was just the first one it made sense to us to publish.
One reason is that nebulous thing, the marketing climate. The word “fanfiction”–thanks in part to, yes, Fifty Shades of Grey, but not Fifty Shades alone–is now a part of the mainstream lexicon in a way it wasn’t five or ten years ago. Both readers and our sales team are much more likely to at least recognize the topic.
Another just as important reason is what this book is. We never wanted to publish an “intro to fanfiction.” We wanted something that would be meaningful not just to those who didn’t know much about the subject, but to fic readers and writers, too.
Of course there are things Fic couldn’t do. Anne says it better in the introduction than I could:
A book cannot be coextensive with the entire history of literature and the current expanse of the internet. I limited the topic, as I’ve suggested, to written fanfiction: its production, its dissemination . . . I’ve largely restricted the discussion to literary- and media-based fandoms, thereby excluding a number of vast, productive areas such as anime and manga (which have their own distinctive cultures) and sports. Even within its area of focus, Fic could hardly be exhaustive; there are many vast franchises the volume doesn’t address as well as a seemingly infinite number of smaller, fascinating fandoms.
Instead of trying to cover everything (an impossible task), Fic takes as its chief examples fan fiction fandoms most people are at least glancingly familiar with: Star Trek and The X-Files and Buffy the Vampire Slayer; Sherlock Holmes, a hundred years ago and today; Harry Potter and Twilight. But what Fic has to say transcends individual fandom to talk about the practices of fanfiction communities in general.
(It’s worth noting, too, that focusing on those fandoms doesn’t mean those are the only fic communities touched on in Fic. Supernatural and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic get a nod; so do Teen Wolf and One Direction RPF and plenty more.)
It was important to Anne, and to us, that this not be a traditional single author title, as strong as I think Anne’s central argument in the book, about fanfiction as literature, is. As Anne says:
I did not want fanfiction to be represented by a single voice, least of all mine, when at its very essence, fanfiction challenges that model of authorship . . . Fanfiction is a collective tradition.
As a result, she notes, this “leaves Fic somewhere between monograph and edited collection,” and that’s part of what I love about it.
We don’t just get Anne’s knowledge of the history of literature and women’s role within it, or what she took away from her time studying Twilight fanfiction. We also get Kristina Busse tracing the origins and spread of the Omegaverse cross-fandom (you read that right–there’s an essay on knotting); Amber Benson talking about her Buffy character Tara’s fanfic sex life (and the ever-blurrier line between creator and consumer); Heidi Tandy/Heidi8’s legal expertise re: copyright and fair use; Rukmini Pande and Samira Nadkarni on fic communities’ engagement with race and ethnicity. We get the history of the Organization for Transformative Works and Archive of our Own. The stories of writers who published fanfiction and who wrote fanfiction in between publishing original works.(See all two dozen contributors here!)
For fanfiction neophyte, Fic provides an introduction to the weird and the wonderful, the smutty and the sublime, that fanfiction has to offer. For the fanfiction-savvy, it provides a deeper understanding of fic’s history, evolution, and meaning . . . and a reminder of exactly why we do it to begin with.
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