FAQ: The Word on Fanfic
I know you have a lot to worry about with your work and how you want it to be used, and I always want to respect the creators and their opinions about their work. So, I was just wondering what you would think if I wrote A Distant Soil fanfic. I would not sell it or anything, I just want to write stories for myself. Is it all right if I show it to people or post it on my blog? I won’t do anything you don’t want me to do. I respect your hard work and your opinion, and would not do anything you do not want me to do.
First off, let me say how kind it is of you to ask! I am so very grateful for your consideration.
I have absolutely no problem with people writing fanfic of my work. Write away! I was also a part of fandom and did lots of fanfic and fanart when growing up, so I know how much fun it is.
A lot of fan activity exists in a kind of legal grey area. Some authors and artists never want to allow fans to make fanfic or fanart of their work. In all the years I have been a pro I have only had to step in and deliver a legal warning a couple of times when the use of my work got a bit out of hand.
Technically, fanfic and fanart are derivative works. Go to FANFIC QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS for a great website which will tell you just about all the legal stuff need to know about fan activity.
I don’t mind it if you post fanfic on your blog and share it with your friends. But please don’t make commercial use of my work. I usually try to not pay close attention to any fan use of my work, because I trust the fans to do the right thing.
Please don’t forget my copyright and trademark information.
As long as it stays “fannish” in nature and doesn’t stray into commercial enterprise, or as long as it doesn’t threaten the viability of my copyright and trademark interests, I will do nothing to interfere with your fun.
The only serious action I have ever taken against anyone in this area was when a former editor of A Distant Soil was found to have been writing and selling A Distant Soil fanfic some ten years after I stopped working with her. Due to the nature of the confidential information on my book to which she had had access, and the breach of professional boundaries, as well as the copyright and trademark concerns, we had to send her a cease and desist notice.
It might interest you to know that the first mainstream comics job offer I ever got was because I was working on a Legion of Superheroes fanzine when I was in high school. The fanzine was always sent to the DC offices so the pros could see it. Keith Giffen, the Legion artist, saw my work on that fanzine and called me on the phone one day!
Most pros I know support fan activity and would really prefer to NEVER take action against a fan.
It is so good and kind of you to ask, and I am glad to have this opportunity to share this information with other fans. Enjoy your writing!