|Synonyms:||audiofic, audio fan fiction, fanfiction podcast|
|See also:||fanfic, Fan Fiction Audio Recording, Audiofic Archive|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Podfic is an audio recording of fanfic, read aloud by a fan (or several). The term is also used as a verb; someone may ask to podfic someone else's story, or spend an afternoon podficcing. A podfic of a slash story may be called podslash. Podfic is also known as audiofic.
A fan who produces podfics can be called a podficcer, a podfic reader, or a podfic artist. Some such people have strong feelings regarding this designation.
Sometimes fans podfic their own stories; however, most podficcers read stories by a variety of authors. It is customary to ask permission before podficcing someone's else's story, due to respect for other fans' works (or copyright law). Some podficcers also write and link to their Dear Author letter.
Some fanfic writers will post a blanket statement, stating that derivative or transformative works by other fans (such as a podfic, remix or translation into another language) have been pre-approved and there is no need to ask permission before creating such a work. See Blanket Permission to Podfic for a compiled list of fans who have pre-approved podfic.
History of Podfic
Fans have been recording fanfiction for as long as they have had the means. However, the idea of recording fanfiction seems to have been reinvented several times, for each generation of technological development and sometimes simultaneously in different contemporary communities. Because the term "podfic" has become well known, it is sometimes applied broadly to all fanfiction audio past and present. It is not clear whether the podfic trend that started in the 2000s is an outgrowth of earlier fanfiction audio communities.
Xena audiofic was distributed on tapes (see Carol's Xena Fan Fiction Tape Consortium) as early as 1996 and later on burned CDs. Femslash fan Tarae remembers first seeing WordWarrior's Xena fanfic recordings listed on a website in 1997, but was unable to acquire the tapes due to living in Europe. Tarae also recalls Xena fans making "fanfic mix tapes" to give to other women they crushed on at conventions. The recorded stories back then were called "audio fan fiction" or "audio fiction", although this may still be the Xena fandom term for podfic (as of 2009).
The present podfic community, as well as the term itself, may only date back to the mid-2000s. A few podficcers report that they were recording podfic in the early 2000s, but didn't call it by that name. In October 2003, a group of Lotrips fans began the Fiction Aloud 2003 project on LJ. Some podficcers point to the sbp_aloud project as the genesis of modern podfic, or at least their own introduction to recording fanfic. sbp_aloud, a project on LiveJournal to record an audiobook of The Shoebox Project, was established in 2004; sbp_aloud was inspired by hpreadaloud, a fannish audiobook project for Harry Potter canon, and had no connections to earlier forms of fanfiction-on-tape.
A number of LiveJournal communities began to appear, starting in August 2005 with podslash. Podslash uses the term "podcast" rather than "podfic", suggesting that the term, if not the practice, was as much inspired by the new non-fannish phenomenon of podcasting as previous fannish efforts to create audio recordings of fanfic. Alternatively, the pod in podfic may be derived from iPod, just as podcast is, but have no other connection to podcasting.
As of 2012, Amplificathon was the main hub of the multifannish podficcer community on LiveJournal and Dreamwidth, though podfic activity could be found in many other journal communities, as well as other places on the Internet. Amplificathon is associated with the largest multifandom podfic archive, the Audiofic Archive, started in 2006. As LJ lost popularity, much of the conversation about podfic shifted to Twitter. Certain megafandoms like Supernatural, Sherlock, and MCU also developed a podfic presence on Tumblr.
A lot of fandom twitter is locked, so podfic communities can be hard to find on twitter. As discord became a popular fandom platform, fans started at least one general podfic discord server. After the data loss at Audiofic Archive, Archive of Our Own is probably the largest public resource for podfic; as of November 2020 the Podfic tag contains over 26,000 works. In the late 2010s some podficcers also started hosting their works at the Internet Archive; as of November 2020 there are 2500 public items in the podfic tag. Podfic also exists on youtube, sound cloud, and elsewhere.
Fans began holding podfic-related panels and meetups at conventions, and in 2016 started the first podfic convention, Podfication (held in Minnesota, USA). Europodfriends (held in Berlin, Germany) then started up as an alternative for European podficcers. Fanworkscon (Michigan, USA) is a multimedia fanwork convention started in 2019 that has programming dedicated to podfic.
While audio fanfiction was once recorded on analogue technology (cassette tapes, CDs), podfic is now primarily digital.
Podfics at the Audiofic Archive generally consist of an mp3 file containing a reading of a single fanfic, although sometimes the file is converted into an m4b audiobook, called a podbook in fannish vernacular. (Podbooks are usually produced with cover art that will display on the screens of mp3 players and smart phones.) Collections of stories bundled together in a single file or in an "album" of files are somewhat less common. Longer stories are sometimes divided into several files, depending on the podficcer's preference and the format of the original story.
Meanwhile, some fannish podcasters have been including fanfic readings in their podcast episodes, or producing podcasts that consist entirely of fanfic readings. For example, Amy Boatman read classic Xena stories in a weekly Xena Fanfiction Podcast in 2007. The Xena & Ubers podcast was started in 2008 and is still going as of 2014. In December 2013, a Willow/Tara fanfiction podcast called Under Your Spell  was started.
Technical Aspects of Creating Podfic
In the user info of the first podfic community on Livejournal, podslash, community mod oulangi states that "the equipment for [making podfics] can be as simple as the mic & bundled software that came with your computer to a high tech recording studio." As smartphones became widespread, some fans began recording on their phones.
While there are many available programs for audio recording, Audacity is one of the most popular within fandom as it is free, is fairly intuitive, and is available for PC, Mac, and Linux. Several podficcers have posted tips for recording successfully - including noise reduction and information on bit rates, along with other technical explanations.  Mac users have posted Garageband tutorials as well .
The LiveJournal community podfic_tips, created in 2008, includes advice on many technical as well as artistic challenges to creating podfic.
Distribution methods vary. Some podfic may circulate by email or through locked communities and forums, while other podficcers advertise, distribute, or link to their creations publicly. Publicly available podfic files are usually uploaded to a free file-hosting service, the podficcer's own website, the author's website, an archive such as the Audiofic Archive, or all of the above. Once the file is uploaded, other fans can then download and listen to the podfic anywhere, any time (depending on their access to technology).
Some fans offer their podfic in streaming formats. Some commercial websites such as SoundCloud, as well as paraka's noncommercial podfic hosting, offer free streaming; the AO3 allows embedded audio players, but does not provide hosting. (Notably, podfics hosted on the Audiofic Archive cannot be streamed.) This has a number of benefits, including allowing people to listen to the podfic on different computers, allowing listeners to "try before downloading" and making it easier to listen to more shorter podfics. For listeners accessing podfic on their mobile devices, streaming is much easier than downloading.
Some fans share their podfic on YouTube.
Not all podficcers in the English-language podfic community are native English speakers, and some have produced podfic in other languages. The Audiofic Archive, an English-language site, hosts podfic in 13 other languages, including Elvish; the most popular language other than English is Spanish, with 26 podfics as of January 2014.
French-speaking fandom has also become interested in podfic, with at least one archive/forum started in 2009, audiofics. At the time it was opened, a post on the main forum noted that there wasn't much in the way of French podfic on the internet.
In December 2011 the German multi-fandom archive Animexx.de site admin cato announced the implementation of a new subsection for the fanfiction archive on the site for "Fanfiction-Hörbücher und -spiele" (fanfiction audio books and audio dramas). As of July 2014 the section has about 70 fanworks listed, among these mostly German podfic (many works for original stories), podcasts and other audio-based fanworks. 
Common meta discussion topics have included feedback, permission, cover art, metadata, podfic's status as a creative work, and whether or how to include music. Pod Aware, a week-long celebration of podfic begun in November 2011 and repeated in 2012 and 2014, has featured a lot of discussions about some of the common meta topics.
Some challenges have been created as a direct result of conversations about issues in podficcing: for example, welovepodfic (to encourage feedback), multipodicity (to encourage repodding), and Pod Together (to "dispel some of the sense that podfic is nothing but a format shift for stories intended to be read on paper").
Specific Meta Essays and Posts
- See also Timeline of Podfic Meta.
- So you wanna be podficced?; archive link by akamine_chan ("Here's a handy-dandy guide that may help you get your wish.") (January 2015)
Listening to Podfic
A lot of podfic meta focuses on the listening experience. Depending on their preferences and the equipment available to them, fans listen to podfic in a variety of environments: at the home or office computer, in the car, on public transportation, at bedtime, or in the great outdoors. Many prefer to listen in situations where they would not otherwise be able to read fanfiction, such as during their daily commute. The listener's ability to multitask may restrict their choice of venue.
Podfic can be a useful service as well as an artistic endeavor for blind fans and fans who have difficulty reading onscreen. Accessibility issues are sometimes overlooked in podficcer discussions about the merits of podfic, though in non-podficcer spaces, accessibility issues are sometimes emphasized more than the artistic attributes. Sensory issues go both ways; some fans prefer to be able to listen instead of read, and others have reported more difficulty following audio than reading text.
Communities and Archives
- See also Timeline of Podfic Communities.
- podslash: For posting slash podfics. Created August 3, 2005. Moderated by ginnytonnick, oulangi, and zabira.
- audiofic: For posting all podfics. Created June 2006.
- podfic_tips: Information and Advice for Podficcers. Created January 5, 2008. Moderated by mathmusician and torra.
- amplificathon: For posting all podfics. Includes an annual podfic challenge, a podfic recs challenge (amplirecathon), and a long podfics challenge (podbang). Created February 2008.
- podficmeta: Discussion community. Created January 2010.
- podficpool: Recs and finder community. Created July 2010.
- remopodmo: or, Record More Podfic Month. A twice-annual daily podficcing challenge. Created November 2010.
- Podfic Bingo: Bingo-style challenge community. Created January 2011.
- pod_together: Annual challenge where author and podficcer pairs work together to create fanworks. Created May 2011.
- podfic_love: Fannish vocal performance rec community. Created July 2013.
- podfic-recs: tumblr created August 2013
- ai_podfic: American Idol season 7,8,9 podfics. Main pairings are Cookleta (season 7), Kradam (season 8), Katelyn/Lilly (season 9). Season 8 is most popular season in American Idol - podfic fandom with 254 podfics and 45 podficers. Created October 22, 2010. Moderated by Paraka.
- dw_podfic: For all Doctor Who podfic. Created March 17, 2009. Moderated by avoria.
- gleepodfic: For all Glee podfic. Created May 15, 2011. Moderated by winkingstar.
- hp_podslash: For all Harry Potter slash podfics. Created January 15, 2007. Moderated by djin7 and oulangi.
- ks-audiofic: For all Star Trek Kirk/Spock podfics. Created March 26, 2010. Moderated by bigmamag.
- merlinpodfic: For all Merlin podfics. Created January 21, 2009.
- sgapodfic: For anything relating to Stargate: Atlantis podfic: Posting, requesting, reader's profiles, meta, and so on. Created March 19, 2006. Moderated by amireal, fan_this, and temaris.
- spn-gen-podfics: For gen Supernatural podfics. Created November 4, 2007. Moderated by twasadark.
- teenwolfpodfics (on dreamwidth): For all Teen Wolf podfics. Created August 13, 2012. Moderated by heard_the_owl and knight_tracer.
- tolkien_podfic: For all Tolkien podfics. Created April 2008. Moderated by Altariel.
- Audio Fanfic Podcast: a series of podfics, mostly X-Files but sometimes other fandoms such as One Day at a Time or Star Trek Voyager. Created September 30 2019.
- Podfic and Podficced Works tag on AO3
- Podfic Welcome tag on AO3 - for works where the author wants someone to create a podfic.
- podfic tag on Tumblr
- Podfic Platypus Tumblr
- Podfic Twitter account active from July 2012 to May 2015 that retweeted podfic-related comments and discussions on the platform
- podcast by aethel: podcast I made for Pod Aware yesterday, in which I meander around the topic and talk more about Fanlore than podfic, Archived version (November 11, 2014)
- Newbie guide to podfic on livejournal: Posted by general_jinjur September 8, 2008; last updated July 11, 2009. Includes links to all livejournal podfic communities and a number of tutorials.
- workshop: podfic! in camelot_fleet (2010-04-03)
- Podfic 101 Tutorial by paraka at ai_podfic (2011-11-07)
- PODFIC COVER TUTORIAL SERIES by bessyboo (2011-08-7)
- How to Podfic: A Highly Biased and Incomplete Tutorial by the-dragongirl (2016-01-15)
- AO3 Podfic Posting Guide by Shmaylor on AO3 and tumblr (2017-05-12)
- A Guide To Audio Fanworks - AO3 collection by various authors
Notable & Popular Works
- Written by the Victors, a five-hour long podfic, produced by Lim, featuring 36 different readers. Stargate Atlantis (2007)
- And Be One Traveler, a nine-part podfic featuring 32 different readers, each playing particular roles. SGA/Stargate Atlantis RPF (2009)
- This Never Happened read by klb, an early audio adaptation of a not!fic that became a template for how to translate emoticons into podfic. My Chemical Romance (2011)
- Ach, des Knaben Augen read by pennyplainknits, a podfic that used music clips in an unusual way. Inception (2011)
- Given in Evidence read by erica schall, a podfic that was posted in installments over a period of eight months (posting WIPs is less common in podfic than fanfic). Sherlock (2012)
- Open the Door  read by fire juggler, a podfic of a popular Teen Wolf story (2012)
- The Progress of Sherlock Holmes read by Cellar Door, a podfic of a popular Sherlock story by Ivyblossom (2012)
- Some Thing Shouldn't Be A Chore read by darlingsweet, based on an Avengers fic (2012)
- Several podficcers have tried their hand at interpreting the lolcat speech in copperbadge's Torchwood story Trying to Communicate.
- "Podcasts! Fanfiction isn’t for print anymore: Where to find fanfic podcasts, as well as other favorite podcasts on the web." -- from the 2015 MediaWest*Con program book.
- general_jinjur. comment on a podficmeta post by user:aethel, 2011-12-29. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- the Xenamultimedia Page - Audio Fan Fiction (MP3 CD's). (Accessed 14 October 2012)
- tarae. Pod Aware - Day 1, posted to Dreamwidth 16 November 2014.
- See Xena Fanfiction Audio, last updated in 2009
- In a Pod Aware podcast discussion between klb, bessyboo, and paraka, 2005-2006 was mentioned as the period when the podfic phenomenon started gaining momentum. See Day 1 - Podfic 101/Why We Podfic, 6 November 2011. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- In a 2010 Amplificathon post, cookiemom6067 comments that "2007 was pretty much the year EVERYONE discovered podfic". Amplirecathon For January 30th - Greatest Hits of 2007, 30 January 2010. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- According to Cybel, in 2007 "podficcing started to come into its own, largely due to two prolific readers, Dodificus and Zabira." See Classic Recs From the Summer Of 2007, posted 27 January 2010. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- The Audiofic Archive, a major multifandom resource for finding podfic, was started in 2006 and contains no podfic made earlier than 2004. See general_jinjur's 29 December 2011 comment on a podficmeta post by user:aethel.
- anatsuno says that her first podfic dates to December 2002. comment on a podficmeta post by user:aethel, 2011-12-29. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- In the introductory post to fictionaloud: "What originally started out as PornAloud 2003, has expanded to include slash fiction of the non-pr0ny variety. Join, post, listen, and enjoy. Currently, we're after Lord Of The Rings fiction (RPS and CS), and Harry Potter fiction (CS, and only RPS if it's involving cast members who are over 18." The last community post is dated May 2, 2004; WebCite.
- See Day 1 - Podfic 101/Why We Podfic, 6 November 2011. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- bessyboo. comment on a podficmeta post by user:aethel, 2011-12-28. (Accessed 30 December 2011)
- In a podcast for Pod Aware 2012, paraka says, "Amplificathon, if you're in journalling communities, is really the nucleus of podfic fandom." See Day 2 - Podfic Fandom, posted 12 November 2012 to Dreamwidth.
- bessyboo remarked in the same podcast that LiveJournal podfic fandom hangs out on Twitter. See Day 2 - Podfic Fandom, posted 12 November 2012 to Dreamwidth.
- An anon on Fail_Fandomanon observed that podficcers would magically appear if you utter the word "podfic" in a tweet. Re: Ｐｏｄｆｉｃ ｒｅｃｓ, posted 21 March 2013.
- single reader anthologies and the rarer multiple reader anthologies at the Audiofic Archive.
- oulangi USER INFO First posted August 04, 2005. Last accessed November 19, 2008.
- In a 2019 episode of Behind the Pod, arkadyevna commented, "There are quite a few people I know who just record straight on their phone, edit on their phone, post on their phone." Behind the Pod S1, Episode 4: New(ish) & Old(ish), Archived version, posted to AO3 2019-12-08. Timestamp 16:59. (Accessed 2019-12-08.)
- isiscolo.Quality, filesize, and Audacity/Lame settings, Archived version, posted in podfic_tips, 1 February 2008. Last accessed November 19, 2008.
- First posted February 26, 2016. Last accessed December 29,2020.
- First posted January 23, 2011. Last accessed December 29,2020.
- See Streaming Podfic by paraka, dated August 23, 2011; WebCite.
- Audiofics ou comment découvrir les fanfictions autrement. 23 July 2009 post at Fanfic Fr. Accessed 17 January 2014.
- Fanfiction-Hörbücher und -spiele 16 December 2011 post at Das Animexx-Weblog. Accessed 2 July 2014.
- Fanfiction-Hörbücher Accessed 2 July 2014.
- general jinjur, (no subject), posted June 15, 2010.
- podcath. Podfic as transformative works--Let me count the ways, posted to month_of_meta on Dreamwidth 11 March 2012. (Accessed 24 March 2012)
- See this failfandom_anon thread for examples of arguments against the creativity of podfic.
- Podficcers have noted the similarity between anti-fanfic arguments by non-fans and other fans' arguments that podfic isn't creative/doesn't count as a fanwork/isn't as creative as fanfic. See fuckyeahpodficplatypus's October 4, 2012 Tumblr post.
- zvi, Podfic grumblings, Nov. 7th, 2009.
- cofax7, an open letter to podfic recorders/readers, 2009-12-06
- zvi, If music be the food of love, play on, posted in podficmeta, 2010-01-14
- podficmeta profile
- WebCite for Newbie guide to podfic on livejournal accessed July 31, 2012.
- As of 2 September 2013, this podfic is the most kudosed podfic without accompanying text on the Archive of Our Own. (91 kudos) Derived by sorting works with the Podfic tag. Since fanfic is far more popular than podfic, all works that included the text of the story (including pod_together collaborations) were disqualified. To compare, the most kudosed fanfic on the archive -- DILF, a Teen Wolf Sterek story by twentysomething -- has 8596 kudos. (I am discounting one fic that got 9000+ anonymous kudos as it looks like a bug or spamming attempt).
- As of 2 September 2013, this podfic is the second most kudosed podfic on the AO3. (82 kudos)
- As of 2 September 2013, this podfic has the most comments on the AO3. (77 comments)
- As of 2 September 2013, this podfic has the most hits on the AO3. (10112 hits)