Co-Authoring versus Fan Fiction

From time to time I'll have a reader comment about one of my books or characters and say something to the effect of, “You should have this character do this in your next book,” or “For the sequel, you should have this happen.”

On the one hand, it's very flattering to me that readers would be so involved in the story that they'd imagine extensions of it and new parts to the characters' lives.  It tells me that they've been drawn in deeply into the plot and don't want the story to end.  I feel as though I've done a good job with my writing, which in turn makes me feel as though I'm able to leap small buildings with a single bound and possibly even fly a short distance, without a cape even.

On the other hand, I see how it could cause me some problems if the person who mentions it is truly serious and really feels as though he's giving me work I should use.  A person who mentions something to me about a plot point or character issue might see something similar come up in my work later and feel as though he's justified in claiming co-authorship.  I have, in fact, received story ideas attached to mentions that I'd need to pay the person a percentage or specific dollar amount if I use the idea proposed.  Yes, this has actually happened.  Recently I received an unsolicited story idea from a reader with a demand for payment of $10,000 should I decide to use it.

So for these reasons, when I get an unsolicited story or character idea that I feel is something mentioned more than just in passing, I send out a friendly note explaining that it is not my policy to accept story ideas from fans.  No one loves fan interaction more than me … not even Lady Gaga.  But I would never want anyone to feel as though I've stolen his ideas and used them for my benefit; so the best way to avoid any misunderstandings is to just state my policy up front.  My mind is plenty fertile enough; my brain is waaaay overcrowded with characters, plots, action scenes, and book cover art concepts – more than I could ever use in a lifetime because new ones are added every day.  I neither need nor want any more ideas floating around in there.

Now, I don't want to leave anyone without a creative outlet, should they have ideas that involve my stories or characters.  Writing is an art form, and we need more art in the world to appreciate.  That's where Fan Fiction comes into play.

Essentially, Fan Fiction is when a reader fan takes a character and makes up their own fiction work that is a “derivative” of an author's work.  Technically, it's a violation of the copyright, but if the person doesn't make any money from it, then it's usually forgiven.  So Fan Fiction is not to be used to make money (and in fact cannot be without violating the law), but it can give a reader a creative outlet to “play” with their favorite characters and share it with the world without receiving financial benefit in return.

If you're interested in reading some fan fiction, head over to  There's lots of it there, and you can vote for your favorites.  Want to read Harry Potter, erotica style?  It'll be there.  Want to know what would happen if the evil queen won in Snow White?  It will be there.  Want to know what it would have been like if Bella had chosen Jacob?  Yep, plenty of that there.  You can actually find some really talented writers there if you dig deep enough.  It's rumored that the very successful Mortal Instruments series started out as Harry Potter fan fiction.  I won't comment on the legal issues surrounding that case since it gets very sticky and I have no firsthand knowledge of it since I've never read the fan fiction.  I'm merely repeating information found in the public domain.

In case you're wondering, no, I do not read fan fiction about my work – or anyone else's, in fact.  This is in keeping with my desire to have all of my ideas be my ideas and not tainted by someone else's vision.  It's also why I avoid reading published works in my genre when I'm writing a book.  I am very careful to always make sure my work is “pure”, as in “purely mine and mine alone”.

So this is a very long post and I'm starting to bore even myself, so I'll just end now with a big thank you for all my readers' enthusiasm for my work.  My feet never touch the ground anymore.  I hope I can continue entertaining and maybe even enthralling you.

7 comments on “Co-Authoring versus Fan Fiction

  1. Moms are awsome.

    Hey, I have this idea about a clown who can’t write buts wants credit for being able to. It’s yours for a mere $50,000.

  2. Fan fiction is a bit of a pipe dream for me. I’ve never been a strong writer, and to be honest, I’d have no idea where to go with it. I leave the creative stuff to the artists. But hats off to those who can and do. I’ve read a few fanfic pieces that have been wonderful.

    • It doesn’t hurt to try!! I get Google Alerts for The Changelings all the time, and often it’s for some huge fan fiction thing that has nothing to do with War of the Fae (my books) but with someone that has magic ponies or something. I’ve never read it, but apparently lots have!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *