Big Bang Press

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Name: Big Bang Press
Date(s): November 2013 - 2016
Profit/Nonprofit: for-profit
Country based in: US/UK
Focus: original fiction
External Links: Official Site (archived, defunct), Tumblr
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Big Bang Press was a small independent publisher of original fiction by fanfiction writers. It gained its footing through a Kickstarter campaign which raised over 53,000 USD. The project was apparently launched with plans to start a publishing house with the goal of helping fan writers promote their original works,[1] but only published the three novels written by BNFs that were promoted in the initial campaign and never opened submissions for new works.

The original pitch on the Kickstarter campaign:

The Project

Big Bang Press will develop and publish original works by talented fandom authors. We were inspired by the difficulties many amateur writers face when trying to make the leap to professional writing:

  • It can be very, very difficult for first-time authors to get their foot in the door of the mainstream publishing industry.
  • There are plenty of talented fanfiction authors who are posting high-quality work online, but have no way of gaining a wider audience for their original fiction.
We have selected three original novels by fanfiction writers, ranging in genre from Young Adult Fantasy to Literary Fiction. If you take a look at some excerpts from their manuscripts, you’ll be able to tell that these guys are the real deal. We want to be able to share their work with the world, and prove that fanfiction writers can be as good as (or even better than) many successful mainstream published novelists.

History

This article or section needs expansion.

Team

Publications

A Hero at the End of the World is widely considered by fans to be Drarry fic with the serial numbers filed off.

Reception

This article or section needs expansion.

From outside fandom

Discussion of Big Bang Press outside fandom seemed cautiously optimistic. They were often related to the issues of monetization of fanworks and fans going pro:

Just personally, I can see the merits of this idea. While it's easy to roll your eyes, especially considering some of the other works born from fan fiction, you can't really hold it against someone with their own ideas just because they got their start writing an epic narrative starring the cast of DDR. Hopefully, with the support being offered by publishers like Big Bang Press the transition be fan writer and professional author will be made a bit easier for some.
If the success of the Kickstarter is an indicator, then Big Bang has the potential to do more than give fan authors a path to publishing original works without abandoning their roots: it could deal a significant blow to the guardians of the gates that separate fan authors from their "real" counterparts—not just on the internet, but in the larger publishing marketplace.

From within fandom

Reactions within fandom ranged from enthusiastic to extremely critical. Some fans welcomed the project, happily contributing to the funding and promoting it:

I don't know anything about the publishing industry, so I don't know how feasible the idea of the publishing company is. But I'm excited to read one of the novels; I'd pay for an ebook of it regardless. I feel like the authors probably had enough of a fanbase to do well if they'd just advertised their books on their own, so they must have a reason for trying to go this route.[2]
Yay, I just pledged $25 for the Big Bang Press kickstarter. I'm so excited about this project. Fanfic writers who I already love & adore working together with other amazing fandom people to start a small press? Hell yes. I only wish I could be more directly involved.[3]

Others were critical on a number of levels, from ideological arguments about paying for fanworks in general to practical concerns about the business model, choice of authors, perceived amateurism of the outfit, and more.

Anna Genoese shared their questions about the BBP business model/organisation from the point of view of a professional editor:

Here’s a list of my initial concerns from looking at your kickstarter page and website for 10 minutes, from my perspective as a publishing professional with 12+ years of publishing and editing under my belt (including publishing original works of fanfic authors).

- What are your editors’ pedigrees? ie, where did they work? For how long? Under whom did they train? What are their actual qualifications? How much do they know about the work editors do besides editing books (for example, working with distribution channels)?

- What type of marketing and publicity plan do you have? Where are your connections? Which reviewers do you know? How are you planning on getting these books out to the non-fannish public?

- Which entertainment lawyer is writing up your contracts with the authors?

- Where is your business plan?

- Where are your P&Ls?[4]

Sweaterkittensahoy wrote a series of Tumblr posts on the subject, also from the point of view of a publishing insider:

I still am distrustful of Big Bang Press. I don’t think they’re trying to screw anybody intentionally, but I have some serious issues with the following:

*They have a production coordinator but no book designer.
*They have a publicity coordinator AND a social media manager.
*The social media manager is ALSO the managing editor.
*The person listed as their submissions editor is no longer with the press.

I can find no clear explanation of where the money people are donating is going to go. “To make books” is not a good enough answer. What is the media budget? What is the marketing budget? What contacts do they have within the industry that will assist authors in getting recognition BEYOND those people who already read the fan fiction by these authors? Do they have an account with a distribution service like Ingram? What is their marketing plan for these books beyond “Hey, we’re publishing original work by fan fiction authors!”[5]

Some questioned if the Kickstarter's target of 40,000 USD was actually reasonable for independent publishing costs, and what the extra funds were going to:

Do you really need 40K to publish three books? From what I heard about self-publishing, I didn't think it would be THAT much.

Simple answer - no, you don't. Looks like they're paying for decent artwork (better than the fiction IMHO) so that'd be a factor, but from my own experience - I've been micro-publishing for four years - you can get a single book all the way to publication for $1,000 or less. I can only imagine that they're paying advances to the authors, and given the likely volume of sales this strikes me as a recipe for disaster.

Basically they're asking for something like ten times as much as they actually need. I'm not saying it's a scam, but I don't trust their figures one little bit.[6]
I would really, strongly, heavily advise all of my followers not to put any money into Big Bang Press. No, it probably won’t make a difference at this point. But you’ll also probably never see anything come of it. [...}

They have about as much directedness as roaches in a flashlight beam. They won’t even list what universities they graduated from and, I shit you not, their main spokesperson replied to a question with “Nooooo, you don’t want details. Details are boring. Look at the shiny!” They can’t even seem to get their stories straight whether or not they’re trying to start up a press or just get these three books published. It changes depending on who they’re trying to get to shill them.

And if they’re just trying to get three books published, saying they have the collective business sense of goats is an insult to goats, because self publishing can be done for less than $100. Free, if you do your own artwork.

I mean, it’s your money, but this really does not deserve to get off the ground. At the least, offering fanfiction for money is very bad form. [...]

Others were concerned about the legal aspect of the project:

As someone who works as support staff (often in a paralegal role) to entertainment attorneys, a lawyer should be writing your contracts. A paralegal without any law school experience is not qualified to be drafting final contracts without an attorney. Paralegals are not licensed to practice law. So I repeat: who is writing your contracts??? And this is your business consultant as well? Presumably the person who is advising you on financial stuff? And you’re asking for HOW much money???[7]

Many fen took offense at the offer of writing WIP updates for perks, for example:

The thing that gets me the most is the part where if you pledge $500 and choose that particular prize, gyzym will finish an unfinished WIP of [his]. If [he]'s capable of finishing it and emailing it to 1-2 people, [he] sure as hell should be capable of finishing it and posting it for everyone. Like, I don't even care anymore whether or not [he] ever finishes Carpe Brewski (or any other WIPs [he] may have out there in other fandoms), but holding the ending hostage to whether or not someone pledges $500...that's disgusting, imo.[8]

Yet another line of criticism was the authors' initial use of their AO3 works to publicize the paid venture, which was against the AO3's TOS.

Big Bang Press was a frequent subject of discussion on FFA: see this ffawiki-backup list of FFA threads about BBP from 2013 to 2014 (including many external discussion posts as well for further reading.)

References

  1. ^ We are very excited to announce the launch of Big Bang Press! by bigbangpress
  2. ^ FFA comment] posted by anon, 2013-11-23.
  3. ^ Tumblr post by asexualbenwyatt, Dec 9, 2013
  4. ^ for people concerned about big bang press original post, Nov 23 2013 (deactivated tumblr preserved in reblogs
  5. ^ i still am distrustful of big bang press by Sweaterkittensahoy, 2013
  6. ^ FFA thread, 2013-11-23
  7. ^ reblog of "for people concerned about big bang press" by bessyboo, 2013-11-23
  8. ^ FFA comment by anon, 2013-11-21. Note: pronouns have been edited.