afterFan fiction has been around forever. It’s a fun way to write where you get to build on a world that is already alive.

Whether you agree with it is another topic, but some writers have found success publishing fan fiction. A recent big one was obviously 50 Shades of Grey trilogy, which was fan fiction based on Twilight. Now, One Direction fan fiction has gotten attention.

Simon & Schuster has signed a deal with Anna Todd for her After series, it was reported last week by Publishers Weekly. The books will start to appear in bookstores in November. Todd began writing the series in 2013 and published it onto Wattpad, a free publishing site where authors retain the copyright. The story follows an 18-year-old named Tessa and her life as she meets a boy named … Harry.

I read fan fiction. I may have even written a bit of it, but I was surprised by just how much fan fiction is being taken on by publishers. The publishing houses change enough of the story so as not to be sued. There was a seminar at BookExpo America about this exact topic.

I sat in on it and listened to a few authors, agents and editors talk about it.

“We don’t run way from the fan fiction origins. Obliviously, Harry’s name gets changed,” said Adam Wilson, an editor with Simon & Schuster at BookExpo America. “We are editing it. It’s a pretty long book right now. I think in total it’s 650,000 to 700,000 words.

“The process of bringing it into publishing house is getting to the core of the story. That’s the bigger part, how do we remain true to the story that we love and know, and then make it something else that a publishing house can work with.”

Author Lauren Billings (who is one-half of the writing team Christina Lauren) has written fan fiction, but doesn’t recommend going that route if you want to be published.

“Don’t go into thinking you’re going to write fan fiction and then turn into your own story,” she said at BEA. “It’s the story that is still important.”


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