Publishing Startup Out to Prove FanFic Authors Can Have Mainstream Success
Fan fiction does not have a glowing reputation among publishers. Although it can create vibrant communities eager for an author's next book release, much fan fiction has been overlooked due to an assumption that its writers borrow characters, plots, and add little originality. Big Bang Press believes otherwise.
"I was getting very frustrated with the fact that there are all of these authors out there who I think are really talented but weren't being paid attention to," says Morgan Davies, editor-in-chief of Big Bang Press. "You have people who are experimenting with their craft and doing all sorts of interesting things in their stories. There are many writers who I think will be quite popular in a wider audience outside of fandom."
Davies' frustration inspired Big Bang Press, a small press with deep roots in the fan fiction community, referred to by participants as fandom. Davies and her fellow editors actively participate in fandom, and have named the press for one of the biggest events in the community. "Big Bang is a yearly sort of get-together of fans in a certain fandom who would all agree to write long stories -- usually longer than 20,000 words -- and who would then be paired up with fan artists who would illustrate them. They'd have regular check-ins and all post their completed stories around the same time." The name fits, not only because it is identifiable to Davies' biggest supporters, the "fanfic" community, but also because it echoes the very work she and her editors are doing, which is to create longer works of fiction within a supportive community.
In November, Davies and team took their idea online and let fans decide whether Big Bang's hand-picked authors' and their stories were worth publishing. With over 900 Kickstarter donations and over $40,000 in donations after four weeks, it looks as though Davies' prediction of wider audience appeal has proven accurate.
With the Kickstarter funds, Big Bang Press will publish the original works of three talented fan fiction writers -- Erin Claiborne, Kady Morrison, and Natalie Wilkinson. Their novels, respectively, are A Hero at the End of the World, Juniper Lane, and Savage Creatures, which run the genre gamut from literary fiction to fantasy noir.
Along with proving that the fan fiction community can offer, in the words of the press's tagline, "original content for an original audience," Davies and her fellow editors hope to facilitate their protégés' transition from fanfic writers to published authors.
"It can be very difficult to transition out of fan fiction," says Davies, who is both a fanfic writer and professional novelist. "There is such a community feel to fandom. When you write fan fiction, you get immediate feedback on your work. That's really rewarding, but when you're writing a novel, you write it alone. We're trying to give them a supporting community to write in, a sort of microcosm of fandom, and give them the tools to write great novels."
Should Big Bang's novels find commercial success (expect the first, Claiborne's A Hero at the End of the World, in September of 2014), Big Bang will continue its mission of finding and nurturing new talent. Although the press's first three novels were hand-selected, Davies hopes to move toward a more open submission policy and continue to promote writers from the fan fiction space.
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