Profiting from fanfiction (essay by fluterbev)

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Title: Profiting from fanfiction
Creator: fluterbev
Date(s): February 26, 2009
Medium: journal post
Topic: fandom and profit, zines, fanfic, fiction archives
External Links: Profiting from fanfiction page one; page two; archive link page one; archive link page two
Click here for related articles on Fanlore.

Profiting from fanfiction by fluterbev is part of a 2009 discussion regarding fandom and profit. Fluterbev posted a hypothetical question about selling an ezine for $20US and asked other fans if they agreed this was all right to do.

It is a response, in part, to a fan selling a fanfic as an ezine: see Changes.

This essay has a follow-up post called Profiting from fanfiction (a follow up to my recent poll).

Specifically-Related Posts in This Discussion

Some Topics Discussed

The Post

I'd be very interested in your answer to the following hypothetical question. [hidden now in a non-accessible poll]. Please feel free to discuss between yourselves in comments.... Edited for clarification Remember, this question is hypothetical, despite being written in first person. I am not personally intending to do this :-)

Excerpts from Some Responses

[morgan32]: Knowing the motive is a big influence on how this would affect me and my actions. I think I know you as well as most of my online friends and if you were to do something like this (yes, I know it's hypothetical) I would assume it was out of necessity because it's not a thing I can imagine you doing otherwise.

And the $20 price tag you suggested, given the cost of setting up a secure system so only those who pay could access your work - that's entirely reasonable. In fact, it's maybe a bit below break-even price if we're hypothetically suggesting a flat rate for access to the entirety of your back-catalogue. You'd be better off hypothetically charging $5 per fic, or maybe $3 per short fic and two or three times that for the longer stories.

But if someone right from the start says you've got to pay, or someone whose circumstances are unknown to me just deletes everything and declares now you've got to immediate reaction is along the lines of Sod it, you're not that good..

There is always more fanfic out there, for free. If nowhere else, there's loads inside my own head! I don't need to pay for it...I have to want to pay for it.
[gillyp]: I'm vehemently against profiteering from fanfic. I think it sets a dangerous precedent that could cause all kinds of ramifications of the legal kind for fanfic in general.

TBH, I'm not a fan of zines in general. I know lots of people love them but I feel technology has passed them by. I'm always mildly irritated when I see someone's locked a fic in a zine, It feels like cocking a snook - if you wanna read my fic you'll do it my way, the out-moded, old-fashioned way - to which I answer, well actually, then, I'll just live without your fic, thanks muchly.

In short *g*, I don't do zines, not even for your fic, hon.
[emrinalexander]: I think my age is showing here - but fanzines were the norm for so long, I don't even think about them as being unusual. And there are still people who like the additional artwork along with holding a "book" in their hands, and if they want to pay for that, I won't stop them. That said, I haven't bought a zine in years and wouldn't now, because it is far easier to read things on the computer, or print them out or whatever.
[janedavitt]: I think that's the trouble; they're coasting on that free pass because they're so entrenched in fannish history. But nowadays anyone can print off fic/art and get it bound if they want to; a personalized zine that has exactly what you want in it, no duds. Or download what they want to read/watch to their iPod /reader, which is what I do.

If zines didn't have that historical validation and someone tried to start them now as a new idea, I think there'd be a huge fuss as it crosses the not-for-profit line.

And moving into the realms of: I will give you a zine as a download for $X oh, and you're not allowed to print it off or share it, is abusing the system for me.
[gillyp]: ... I know a lot of people love zines and if that's the way they want to continue getting their fic, then that's fine and dandy, I've never felt the need myself but I'm not calling for the banning of zines! - Assuming the cover price covers the costs and no more. I don't believe in fic for profit, I think it damages what I've always considered one of the central premises of fanfic; that it be amateur and free. All my fic is available for free online, as is all the fic of the writers I most admire. There are more great fics out there already than I have time to read; I'm really not about to start paying to read fanfic.
emrinalexander]:I think the time for zines - at least the way they used to be done -may be past. Although I was gifted with the SGA zine SURFACING while I was in the hospital two years ago and it was a wonderful lifesaver because there was no way to access the internet from my room (even though a friend loaned me her laptop for the duration). Still, I wouldn't buy zines now because (a) I don't have the money and (b) we're doing fanfic, we don't get paid for that. The last zines I put together and published were back in the early 90's, and I only charged what it cost me to buy paper and run copies and postage, which was $10 each. I never got the "It's a steal at only 40 bucks" thing.
[admiralandrea]: I'd find it strange and disappointing [for you/someone to require money for an e-zine] but hoped you had a really good reason for doing it. I'm not sure I'd pay anyone for their fic any more, though. I'd rather just give them the money if they were that desperate.
[hermitsoul]: I'd shake my head and go merrily on my way to find other fic. ;) I'm not a huge zine fan, and even less a fan of paying for fic - especially when there are so many awesome stories out there for free. Yes, fandom has totally spoiled me! (Raising money for a cause is completely different, for me I'm donating to the cause and the story/art/misc is just a bonus.)
[mairead027]: Gurrrl,

It's YOUR fic! You own it, you do whatever you like! :-)

"Disappointing" ? You know...there was a time before the internet where fanfic had to be distributed in hard form.

"Blatant profiteering" ? DUH! Overlooking the technical copyright infringement, why else would one do it if to NOT make money?

"Selfish Ramifications" ? Really? Who thinks that? (or was that choice meant to be facetious?) Unless you start selling on Amazon, I don't see the wrath of copyright owners finding you.

(wow, that was quite a reaction from me...who lurks a lot! )
[april valentine]: All I can say is -- what a refreshing reply!
mab browne: Hypothetically speaking, I have an issue with charging for fic in e-zines. If it's already on a pc, then how much trouble can it be to upload it to an archive or a website for the entire fandom to share? But then I've always found zines too expensive, especially after exchange rates etc are taken into account.
[byslantedlight]: I guess the first thing I'd do is wander off and try out the Wayback Machine... *g*

Without knowing you, except to know that this is hypothetical, and not "you" at all (*g*) my immediate impression would be that you were suddenly writing fanfic in order to make a profit - which to me actually stops it being fanfic and turns it into something else altogether. And if that's the case, then you should most certainly be paying some kind of royalties to the original authors of the show you're writing about - I wonder would that be the case? *g*

One of the things that I love about fandom and fanfic writers, vidders and fan artists is that we're doing it for the love of doing it - we're not trying to make a profit, we're not doing it for work or business. It's part of a completely different (and I'd suggest better) world, and that's what makes it enjoyable and what makes it escapism. We can take time off from all the rubbish that we have to deal with in the "real world", because that sort of rubbish doesn't apply in fandom, it's a corner of the world that's made for pleasure and relaxation (yes I know that's generalising rainbows hugely, cos people are people, but still... *g*) So if you try and bring that "real world" into fandom you're just destroying what I love the most about fandom.

If such buying and selling of stories became the "norm" of fandom, then it would completely lose its appeal for me - I'd probably abandon it completely and keep an eye out for the next layer in the underground, where the rebels were back to passing around their own versions of fanfic. Now that I know fandom existed for all those years without me finding it, I'd be convinced that they were out there, hiding slightly more deeply.
[april valentine]: Well, [the buying and selling of stories] was the norm, years ago. During the time that it existed all those years without your knowing about it, actually. And it was "underground" and hidden, not talked about in the rest of society and just shared with other weird fans in the know. Couldn't be openly talked about, even the writing of it, much less the selling of zines or you'd get a legal order to stop. Sorry, I'm just sayin'.
[byslantedlight]: Oh, I know! I'm lucky (I think!) to be in one of the oldest fandoms, and not only have I been able to enjoy stories that the original fans were writing and circulating long before the internet came along, because there is still an active paper circuit, but I regularly attend the annual convention which isn't advertised via the web. If you're lucky enough to meet someone who knows about it, then you know too - rather as it was "back then" I guess! And it's brilliant hearing stories about how things were, who was writing what and how, how fans met up and how it all worked. I am still amazed at what's grown out of it all, the sheer volume of stories available, and I'm continually sad about the stories that are now out of circulation because authors would prefer them not to be on the net (their prerogative of course, but such a shame that we'll never get to read them!) And I adore zines - to the point that I run a site about them, in my fandom. But I think I'd be right in saying that the buying and selling of stories "back then" wasn't done (by most!) to make the authors a profit, but to defray the actual costs of creating zines/distributing letterzines etc? It's the other kind of "buying and selling of stories" that I don't like - the idea that fanfic is commercialised, with profit being a large part of it all. To me that will never be fandom.
[sallymn]: I started when zines were all there was, and bought them from overseas, and love them dearly (dear being the word, they cost even when 2nd-hand so the money isn't a problem :)

I think I'd need to know more in this situation though - given that they were freely available on the web, someone taking theirs down and then charging seems a tad... shutting the stable door after the horse has not only bolted but is over the hills and waaayy away.

And [$20] seems pricey for a downloadable zine (a nice print one costs quite a bit to put together, so they've pretty much priced themselves out of existence)
[betzz]: No profit from fanfic, period. But if you put up some original work for a download, I'd be the first in line. I'd probably still buy your fanfic as soon as I was drunk and near a computer... Principles? What's that?
[juleself]: Fanfic and money should never mix, period. That's why I don't do zines and that's why I'd never pay anyone to read their fic. Of course, if you're talking original fic, it would be a different matter.
[caarianna]: Well, if you were doing it to raise money for Moonridge, and the lock was for a limited period of time ... okay.

But I'm not a supporter of zines, don't buy them, and resent when stories are not available on line. What? Do these authors think they're better than the rest of us? More 'professional' or something? I know some people prefer to read zines than read online and if they can afford it, great. But it's just too expensive for most of us. Personally, what I like about the net is that everything is available for free (or the cost of getting online) to anyone who is interested in it. With all the copyright issues, I really have no time for people who try to make any kind of profit from fanfic, but I've been widely assured that the cost of zines only ever covers the cost of printing. (Not sure I always believe that, but fine.)

As for e-zines ie stories uploaded and locked until paid for, I have some tolerance for professional writers doing this, who make their living selling their original work, but would have no tolerance for fanfic writers doing this, except for charity purposes. I actually feel much the same about fan art. I have paid for it but, personally, I don't think an artist puts anything more into creating the art than a lot of us put into creating a story. However, as I say, I have paid for it, mostly to support individuals who I know really need the cash....

Zines have a wondrous history and were, for so many years, the only way of sharing fanfic. There are many from those days who are more comfortable, I suppose, with zines, than those of us who have come into fandoms later will ever be. It's always up to the writer to decide where they want their work presented. Some writers seem only to want their work in zines and I don't understand that because it does feel 'elitist' ... so very many of us simply can't afford zines. And, sorry, you may not feel superior to those of us who only post online, but I've heard comments that stories posted in zines are 'better' than those online, better written, better edited, etc -- and I don't think that's necessarily true.

Some of you post both in zines and online, and that's great, especially if all your stories become available online. For me, the issue is access. Zines just aren't 'accessible' for too many readers.

Personally, I've only had two experiences with posting stories in zines and, so far as I can tell, nobody ever read the stories in the zines -- feedback is sparse online but seems to be virtually non-existant for zine stories. Feedback aside, I truly did not enjoy the experience of posting in either zine, and I felt uncomfortable knowing that many people would never have access to the stories until they were online. I guess I don't really understand why anyone would post in zines today; why kill more trees when it's so easy to post and access stories online?
[april valentine]: With the current state of the economy, no high priced zines are not affordable for a lot of people, especially when fanfic can be made available online now.

I remember being appalled when someone charged $9 for a zine back in the day -- this was way more than many of us where prices our zines for at the time. Ah, inflation.

I used to get LoCs for zines and zine stories but the feedback has become much more sparse there today, true. But I'm sure people did read your stories. It is frustrating when you feel you've sent your stories out into a vacuum. If the editor gets feedback, even in person from a reader, they certainly should let the author know someone said they read and liked the story.

As for the "quality" of zines vs. online, there is just as much bad stuff in both arenas and just as much fabulous. I don't get the eletist viewpoint at this late date.

Beyond all that, the discussion was around the subject of charging a substantial fee for access to an e-zine. Are you comfortable with fanfic writers doing that for personal profit, as opposed to, say a charitable cause?

Heck no, not comfortable with that at all. First, I talked about zines because others in the discussion did. Second, I've said numerous times in comments here that I think it's really not appropriate to charge a substantial fee for an online e-zine. Maybe a couple of dollars if it's very expensive for you to maintain the site and upload/download software etc, but otherwise, $20? What for? If I charge $20 for a zine it's over 200 pages and it cost me $19-$20 to have it printed. I don't get why someone would charge a lot for a "zine" on CD either. I'd assume that you'd only need to re-coup the cost of the CDs and they aren't nearly as expensive as paper and printing. I've thought of putting zines on CD but then would only charge a couple of dollars if I did that -- but it's the paper zine to hold and look at that I love, so doing that doesn't really interest me (though the thought of lugging a hundred CDs to a con, rather than a hundred 200 page zines is attractive.)
[cross-stitchery]: i've contributed to a few zines - like maybe 3 - and the reason i do it is to get the tribbers copy so i can read the other stories in the zine. mostly i post online, but i have no problem with people who mostly write for zines (beyond wishing i could afford to buy more - and could be sure the ones i do buy are worth the cost)
[caarianna]: Oh, don't get me wrong ... I'm all for everyone's right to decide where they want to post their work, whether that be online or in zines. And I know some people truly prefer to read print copies. For myself, the whole point of posting is to make stories available for the entertainment of others ... so I post online so that everyone can have access, not just those who can afford to buy zines.

1. I'd wonder about the logistics of setting up the payment and delivery method of selling a fanfic e-zine. That might end up being prohibitively expensive in time or money. Tax issues and currency exchanges may also raise their ugly heads...

2. Talk of money for a fanfic story brings the specter of lawyers and copyright/ownership troubles. Cute disclaimers in the story headers are not protection in every legal situation.

3. How would one keep someone else from selling or claiming authorship of the digital stories? (Sorry, it's that evil plagiarism problem again)

It's a shame that sharing the creativity inspired by fandoms has become such a pain in the backside!
[rhianne]: Hmm... it would very much depend on the individual circumstances, I think. If we were talking about your stories, then I wouldn't be outraged that you'd done it, but then again, I probably wouldn't download it, because I have all your fics safely squirrelled away on my hard drive already *eg*, so I wouldn't pay to download it all again.

Then again, if this was a Moonridge auction or for charity in some way, ie the fics were only being taken down for a short period of time to raise money for charity, then I still wouldn't have a problem with it, and again, then whose fics we were talking about and what charity it was for would ultimately decide whether I paid for the fics or not.

If it was simply an author taking their fic off the net to raise money for themselves, then I wouldn't have a problem with it per se, simply because it's the author's right to do whatever they want with their fics, and if that's what they want to do, then it's up to them. But it's not an action I would support or agree with, because of copyright issues and also because $20 is far more than it would cost for a download.

For a zine, then it's more understandable I guess because of production costs, but not for a downloadable e-zine. I certainly wouldn't even consider paying for it, because I do believe that fanfic should be available for free unless it's part of one of the charity auctions. There's too much amazingly well-written fic available online for free to make me want to pay for it, which is exactly the problem I have with zines - forking out cash for it doesn't guarantee any better quality, and frankly the few zines I have seen have mostly been full of rubbish stories that I didn't want to read.
[anonymous]: I'd say you can do what you like, but I won't be paying for it. The whole point of fanfic and fandom in general to me is that it is not based on commercial value, and so I'd simply ignore you if you decided to start charging
[sweenybird]: I agree. While there might be copyright issues, that's up to you as an author to manage. If you want to charge for something you've written, you are well within your rights to do so. (I'm using 'you' as a proxy for 'hypothetical author who charges for fan fic'). In a way it's no different than the novels based on TV series or movies, except of course for the copyright issue.
[kindredspirit75]: This has just happened to me. An author whose fanfic I adored has taken all her fics down and is now reworking the stories and selling them online.

Why would I pay to reread something where just the names have been changed but the plot is the same?

Of course, if this person were in dire straights, I'd buy her works in a heartbeat.
[wneleh]: This is kind of what Lois Balzer has done... kind of. I actually don't know whether anything has gone download-only, but most of her new work goes to zines, which also seem to be available in e-form... and I just don't get it. Why reduce readership so much for a few $$$, when we now have the Internet? I can see the attraction of making work also available in print, and of course there are costs involved in this process, so I'm fine with selling zines (in theory, though I don't actually buy many), but why charge for ezines?

And... well, one of the reasons I write fanfic is payback for being able to read the fanfic of others. I know all of us bring our own expectations to fandom, but this is mine.

RE: The legality of selling fanfic - it's been happening since the dawn of time, and I've got a stack of fanzines to prove it. I think on-line stuff is a whole lot harder to look the other way about!
[mab browne]: I only found out very recently that Lois Balzer was doing this and I must admit that I feel deeply uncomfortable about the concept. With paper zines, the money charged is *supposedly* only to cover costs of printing and postage. With web fic, we are all of us already on the web, using the internet, with access to archives and platforms that we don't have to pay for. Charging for net-fic seems to go against the sorts of concepts that I enjoy about fandom. And as you say, it knocks back the chance to interact with others as regards fic, because presumably only so many people are willing to pay for it. It's a vexed question - or it is for me, anyway.
[wneleh]: I don't even mind the zine-sellers making enough to cover the cost of going to conventions, or even a little money for their time. But... there are costs associated with a lot of hobbies, including fanfic writing, and nickel and diming people to recover part of that cost doesn't make sense to me.
[april valentine]: RE: The legality of selling fanfic - it's been happening since the dawn of time, and I've got a stack of fanzines to prove it. I think on-line stuff is a whole lot harder to look the other way about! Right on -- believe me, I was terrified for *years* about posting stories online because of TPTB *finding out*! I wrote all my early fanfic under my real name, mind you. Even the slash. And published zines under my real name, even the slash.
[miwahni]: I'll pay for real zines, and gladly, as the payment is merely covering the cost of printing and distribution, and a well-put-together zine is a wonderful thing. I don't see the point of paying for an e-zine though when there is so much out there freely available. It does reek of profiteering.
[jane davitt]: I think your hypothetical provider of fic for money would be breaking one of the cardinal rules; you don't make a profit from fandom from within fandom (I make the distinction because fandom is a huge moneymaker for the copyright owners; we'll happily pay for tie-in novels, posters, DVDs, autographed posters etc, but they're official and/or sanctioned).

A for pay zine benefits, it seems to me, from its hallowed pre-net status as the only way to pass fics around and IMO is treading a fine line these days; do any zine publishers provide a detailed, backed up with receipts list of costs to justify the sometimes astronomical prices they charge for the zine and shipping? Or do they pick a nice round figure that's probably got a profit margin built in and tell themselves it's to cover the hassle and their valuable time?

When it comes to demanding payment for an online zine, the shaky ground turns into quicksand.

I have a webpage that was originally set up just to have a place for all my fics and vids so that anyone who wanted to read them could find them easily. At first it was free; my ISP gave me space with my account. When traffic picked up and I exceeded the free limits, I bit the bullet, bought a domain name and I pay an annual fee to TotalChoice. It costs me money, yes, but I like having my fics on a webpage and it's not hugely expensive.

I have 800 fics, a dozen vids and hundreds of images on the server space, I get about 150-200 hits a day and I'm nowhere near exceeding my limits. For $4 a month on the basic plan I get 40GB bandwidth transfer and 1400MB storage.

When people talk about the high costs of maintaining webspace that means they have to charge for things like downloading e-zines I have to wonder if I'm missing something.

When they talk about the tremendous effort and time involved in producing the zines I think of the countless hours many of us put into fandom initiatives without ever expecting to be paid in anything but enjoyment.

Fandom is not for profit. Fandom is not for screwing money out of fellow fans. Fandom, excuse my starry-eyed idealism, is for sharing freely; the fics, the vids, the icons, the sheer fun of being a fan of something surrounded by kindred spirits who get it.
[wneleh]: I'm actually okay with people who do multi-con zine selling (I wonder if we're thinking of the same outfits?) making more than just enough to cover printing costs. I think of it like amateur theatre - the power company and hardware store get paid, and the director may get a trivial stipend, as may any musicians. Enough to buy several pizzas :-) It's only the actors who don't make a dime. For me, authors = actors. Zine producers aren't the hardware store, but they're somewhere in the middle.
[april valentine]: I like your analogy with amateur theatre. The artists are obviously the muscisians who get a little more for their efforts.

And as both a writer and an editor, I'm both the actor and somewhere around the hardware store.

Oh wait, if you're an actor, you do get the applause. Which translates to LoCs for writers.

And yes, if you sell multiple zines at multiple cons and are providing a service for editors who can't attend the cons or print their zines easily, I see nothing wrong with making a little more than just the printing costs. You do have to travel and pay for dealer's tables. And pay for your hotel room and eat.
[batgurl10]:I love your work, but I hate zines on principle. Dont think I could pay for fanfiction of any kind. I also find it snooty and shady when these authors lock up their fic into zines. I mean, what's the point in todays society when everything is digital?
[april valentine]: I really do think that way too many "only" folks are too extreme. Those who won't put their older stories online and those who won't look at zines as anything other than a way to "profit" from fandom.

Since nobody has been stomped by TPTB, at least in my fandoms which are tv based, not book based, I've gotten over my fear of posting online, obviously. But it does still sort of freak me out a bit when fanfiction and slash is so openly talked about like it is these days.

You were online in 1982? Was the internet around that early?? I mean, was anybody posting fanfic or was there just newsgroups etc? I got my first computer in 1988 and didn't think modems were generally available even then.

April -- going to cons since 1975, writing and doing zines since 1976, and online since 1993-ish.
[cross-stitchery]: i think it's inadvisable and possibly detrimental to fandom if the creators of the original characters take exception. making a profit from fanfiction, and fannish works generally, pretty much contradicts the disclaimers we as fanfic writers put on our work to excuse what is otherwise a blatant copyright violation.
[starwatcher307]: If it was an author I knew -- you, Aly, Marilyn -- I'd probably pay for new stories. (I already have the old ones saved.) But for an author I don't know -- I probably wouldn't be willing to take a chance on the quality of the writing and storytelling. Unless she had a large excerpt for me to judge -- or, better yet, a couple of short pieces to whet my appetite for longer -- I'd probably shrug and head for 'free' stories, or authors I'm sure of.
[jokan]: I'm too poor to buy any zines, whether online or in print, so I miss some great fanfic and even some great, classic, much-discussed fanfic. Too bad, so sad. I'm okay with the concept of timed-out zines, so people can eventually get the stories in the format they prefer and for the price they can afford. I don't get the concept of "my stories, artwork, etc, are only available by purchase." Sorry you guys, I will never see your work. I have seen some fanfic writers in other fandoms pull some outrageous stunts to make money (for themselves, not for charity) and that pretty much disgusts me enough to stop reading that author's stories. I'm TOTALLY okay with people mentioning their financial circumstances in their blogs/LJ accounts and perhaps receiving some assistance from friends/grateful readers of their works.

In this specific hypothetical circumstance, I wavered between blatant profiteering and selfish action. Zines were a way to provide fanfic around the world before the internet. Now everyone has a free way to provide their works to the community. If someone were to utilize the free internet and then yank their work and charge money, it can ONLY be for profiteering. If someone does not use the free internet and always charges for their work, it can ONLY be for profiteering. If someone yanks their work for personal reasons and either doesn't provide it at all or only provides it privately, fine, that is their choice. If someone never provides their work publicly, but only shares it with trusted friends, fine. No one is forced to share their work.

All this being said, if I had the money I would sometimes buy zines and downloadable zines of authors I really admired (I'm weak that way). And I would gladly provide a financial pick-me-up to people I DON'T feel are demanding it.
[mostcrazylady]: I always wondered why zines were so high priced if authors aren't supposed to make any profit from their stories. Does it really cost that much to print each copy and who exactly gets the money?
[april valentine]: The zine publisher/editor is the one who gets the money, as she is the one who paid for the printing and binding and shipping and taking it to the conventions to sell, if that applies. And yes, it really does cost that much to print each copy and have it bound. So, for me at least, I'm not talking about those who agent zines for others or who do so many they really don't care for the quality and instead focus on quantity, there is *no* profit.
[jane davitt]: I think fandom has an abiding tolerance, to borrow from Jim, for those like you who do it for love and in a more personal way and make no profit even if money is involved at one stage of the process. Others seem to have zine production set up as a business with prices and conditions that make it feel a world away from the friendly share and care ethos at fandom's heart.
[jane davitt]: A post recently on the lists had my eyebrows raising and I posted to protest it today; a charge of $20 for a single fic zine download from the author's agent.

I'm sorry, I just can't wrap my head around that one at all and it's colored the vehemence of some of my responses, which were never directed at the old school zines from the early fandom days.

To charge that much for a fic well over 7 years old in a PDF when the average pro e-novel costs around $7 is just indefensible to my way of thinking.
[april valentine]: Good grief! I just can't imagine asking that much for a "downloadable" zine. If a pro e-novel costs only $7 or so what on earth can make a "zine" fic cost so much more? I mean, even if you pay "big" bucks for the software/website and maybe even for a pro-version of Adobe to prevent someone who pays for the fic from making copies to sell... or give away to friends who want to read it... it can't cost that much. It just can't. And I read what you were saying here about the costs of your webspace and have maintained a website of my own. I had to give up the online ordering site for my zines I used to have, btw. Couldn't afford it anymore. My problem with putting old (and in my case, they are very, very old) zines online in any form, is that it is impossible to contact some of the authors. They are out of fandom or missing or even deceased. And what about the artwork, can it be reproduced online so the new folks can enjoy it too? A friend and I are working on scanning the old Trek zines done by my friends Bev and [profile] njpax in the early days and we are asking ourselves just those questions. Can we just post Bev and Nancy's stories and mine and the few others we can find to ask who say yes? What to do, what to do...
[jane davitt]: That was my thoughts and why my knickers were in a twist :;g:; This site had conditions; you can't print out a download unless the author okays it; you can't share the download with anyone.

Give me a freaking break! I'm fine with not sharing fic because the author has requested that it not be available for personal reasons; their choice. But that's a whole different thing to 'my fic is only available for those willing to pay through the nose for it'.

Fandom has many internationally successful best-selling pro writers in it; I've co-written with one and no, I don't class myself in her league ::g::. None of them have ever charged like this for their fanfic to my knowledge.

It's's not fandom if you do that. It disappoints me and it's a kick in the teeth for the people who contribute time, talent and energy for absolutely nothing and expect nothing because it's something they love.
[april valentine]: Good grief, those conditions! And how, pray tell, can they be sure they can enforce them? I recall many years back in SH fandom, an early slash zine ed had buyers sign a document stating they wouldn't copy the zine. Another time, someone, concerned about unauthorized copying, put weird holes in the bottoms of pages so that if she ever came across a copy with printing marks from the holes, she could tell "who" had copied it.

I'm sorry, if I buy something, a zine, a book, a tool, a sweater, and I decide to loan it to a friend, I am allowed to do that because I paid for the item and I shouldn't have to ask permission of the zine editor, Random House or Black and Decker or Target. I can loan it or give it away or sell it at a garage sale or throw it in the trash if I want to.

And what if you read net fic by printing it out because your eyes get too tired looking at your screen? Why can't you print the story you've paid for so you are able to actually read it? Come on!

If someone buys a zine from me, I'd certainly prefer it if they don't make copies and sell them. But if they do make a copy for a friend or loan it to a friend, fine. They paid for it so they can.

And I too know a number of highly paid pro writers who also write fanfic who have never asked high prices for any zines they've sold. Geez. Give me a break here.
[gillyp]: In all honesty, I really think the market will sort this out. How many is she going to sell? I'll be willing to bet the figure will be at or close to zero. :o) It really is the most appalling arrogance I've ever come across in fandom,and that's saying something ('cause we both know, there is some high-grade Class A arse out there).
[jane davitt]: This is true. I know some people are buying them though; think it's a cheap and fast way to get to the fic. I can't get over it. If you want print, fine, you have to pay for that. If you want a download and the author's fine with sharing her fic online, the author can damn well do what the rest of us do and put it up somewhere, art and all, and say have at it, save away. For free! Like everyone else!
[april valentine]: I can't imagine taking something that's been freely available and then selling it in the first place. Maybe a story that's been online as a WIP being done as a zine with art and such eventually, but that's different and wouldn't involve removing the original fic from the net, at least if I was doing it.

Taking something *off* an archive to put it into a print zine or e-zine? No way. I would never, ever consider that. I don't want to put a story that's been online and read before in a zine I produce in the first place. I want new stories for a zine, not reprints from other people's zines or fic that's been online for plenty of folks to read it already. How could you possibly justify doing that and charging money for it? Why would you even think anyone would pay for it?

I once did a zine made up of net fic, years ago -- it was some of the very best TS and HL fic of the time and some of the authors told me how happy they were to have a zine to hold with their names/pen names in print in it -- but that's the only way I'd do a zine with something that had previously been online. And it would never have occurred to me to think the authors should remove their stories from the net. The zine sold fairly well but I made sure it wasn't very expensive in the first place and it's been out of print for ages now. I used special colored paper to do it and that just wasn't conducive for doing reprints for years.
[nicky69]: Putting aside the rather iffy subject matter that making a profit of the back of someone elses original characters would be breaking copyright, and morally wrong, it would also in the end impact negatively on fandom. The guys who own The Sentinel turn a blind eye to fan fiction while we're having fun with it and making no profit, but if authors started charging readers a fee to read stories based on their creations they would come down on us like a ton of bricks.

I know it's blatantly obvious but to them The Sentinel is merely a means of making cash, nothing more. Where as for us fans it's more about the love of the characters and the universe they inhabit. It's about the community that grows around the show, the people we meet who share our passion and the friends we make along the way as well share our own adventures with Jim and Blair.

I just think that if you *not you specifically Bev,it's just a general term* bring money into the equation fandom will shift and cease to be about the love of the show and instead be all about the almighty dollar.

Now, that said, I have on one occasion paid for fan fic. I was desperate to read two stories that were only available in zine form- they never 'timed out' and I finally give in and bought them, but it was a one time deal as it was simply too expensive. I live in the UK and it cost over $65 to have two zines delivered- much as I loved them- I won't do that again.

Also, I find that charging for fic can also, be rather exclusive- if you don't have a credit card/Paypal account and especially if you live outside the USA, you're stuffed. I don't have a credit card *my choice* and so when I did eventually buy the zines I wanted I only managed to get them from one Zine publisher who would accept cash through the mail*sent at my own risk*.

Finally, as things stand now, I often keep my eye out to see if a zine story I fancied reading has 'timed out' and I find that nine times out of ten, that by the time they have, the author has left/ become bored with the fandom and moved on and never get around publishing their stories on line. I know that is their prerogative as an author, I'm not disputing that, but as a reader it's frustrating as hell. If the majority of writers went the zine/cash rout how many great stories would be denied to those without the means to stump up the cash to read them?

In effect we would create a two tier fandom the haves and the have nots, and that's something I wouldn't want to be a part of.
[wneleh]:I go to a fanfic-focused convention every year at which there are a number of people who only read fanfic in paper zine form, including TS fanfic. Some of them don't have internet access - they view it as too expensive, esp. if you add in the cost of owning a computer, which not everyone does. So, in effect, they see us as the snooty haves.

If I were able to read fanfic with the lights on, I'd probably buy paper zines, because text is easier than a screen, and I don't know how to work the printer. But I mostly read fanfic in bed, so, really, paper doesn't work for me.

It's the e-zine thing that I don't get.
[april valentine]:I doubt TPTB would "come down on us like a ton of bricks" if people started charging for fanzines, since I've been doing it for 10 years in TS fandom (and I'm not alone) and haven't been sent any cease and desist orders by Danny and Paul yet.

Yes, charging for fanfiction is in effect breaking copyright rules. But actually, whether you make money off fanfic doesn't determine whether it is infringment. It's doing it at all that is actually wrong. And it's not morally wrong, just legally wrong.

As a zine editor, I find it hard to understand why people keep thinking I'm making money off fanfiction. I'm charging to re-coup my costs in printing and binding and mailing the zines. I still live in the same little row-house I've been in for 30 years and haven't gone off to Tahiti on the (non-existent) "profits" from being a zine publisher. (see my main comment below for more details on how I do zines.) If I were to charge for my time in doing the work of producing zines, I'd have to charge $200 for a 100 page zine. The time is what I do for the love of the fandom.

When there was no internet, we all had to shell out cash to read fanfiction -- yes, paper and printing and postage were all less in those days, but believe me, there were those of us who would spend our money on zines before rent in those days. We were grateful to the zine editors who did all the work of publishing stories to make them available to us to read them. Now, with the internet, it's much easier to get the fanfic out there. I applaud that, but I do try to explain how it was back then and how I feel about zines even today.

I don't take credit cards for zines and never would -- I do take cash and checks. Why an editor wouldn't take a money order or a check from you is beyond me. I've also received cash in the mail from Europe (before paypal) and never had any money get lost.

When I've had to send a big thick zine overseas (one of my old S/H zines is 450 pages, I sent it in two separate global express envelopes so that it would cost the least amount possible to mail. That made it $26 for the two flat rate envelopes rather than one big envelope that was weighed at the post office and would go for $39 which was more than the zine itself cost.

I don't blame you for being frustrated. Many zine "publisher/sellers/agents" have given the few of us who aren't doing them for money a bad name, especially in today's internet world. Just FYI, zine editors used to be the revered and appreciated folks in fandom, not despied the way they seem to be now.

I was once asked why some of my old SH zines weren't online as it had been years since they first came out and I had to laughingly explain that many of them hadn't even been produced on computer so it wasn't going to be easy to post them online. :-)

I do think that authors should make their old stories available online once enough time has passed as is the custom these days, even if they have left the fandom. However, years ago,again pre-internet, someone left fandom and took her stories with her making it impossible to read them for anyone new coming in as well. She would not allow them to be published or re-printed at all. And an author whose well-loved novel I published in SH fandom will not permit me to sell it anymore nor will she let it be posted online. And believe me, I was actually *losing* $2 a copy on the ones I was selling; it was just such a fantastic story that I kept re-printing it because folks wanted it. (The zine has sold for over $200 more than once on eBay -- not by me! I don't believe in selling zine stuff on eBay no matter what. Talk about asking TPTB to find us!)

Anyway, I'm glad that we have the internet today for fanfic, because afterr doing zines since 1980, it's gotten a bit tiring. :-)
[april valentine]: If you attribute quotes, you're safe. It's when you make it seem as though they are your words that you are in danger of being called a plagiarist.

If I felt it was morally wrong to write stories based on characters created by others, I wouldn't be writing fanfiction at all and maybe not even reading it. (Sort of how I feel about RPS, but gaaaa... don't want to start that discussion here! lol)

It's legally wrong to exceed the speed limit or not pay taxes or do drugs. But people scoff those laws all the time too. I doubt many of them sit around worrying about it the way fans do, or putting up disclaimers ("I'm smoking pot but I'm not intending to break the law by doing it, honest!" "I'm speeding, but I'm in a hurry and besides, I think it's a stupid law!") We sort of scoff copyright laws by writing fanfiction and only recently has the debate about whether writing stories based on other people's characters is or can be considered "fair use" come up.

This is why I was terrified of posting stories back in the 90's when I first got online. Times change, don't they?
[garettgal]:I believe that any author has the right to do whatever they like as regards their fic but whether or not I would necessarily pay to download said fic would very much depend on who it is and how badly I wanted to read it.

I have paid to download the odd story in the past - not in the TS fandom - and I do purchase the odd zine every so often so am not adverse, per se, to paying for my fic.

We are fortunate in fandom these days that the majority of people are willing to share their work for free but I have no problem with anyone deciding to charge for their work. At the end of the day I do not have to pay to read it and I would suspect that, in general, very few people would.
[klangley56]: Okay, I haven't had a chance to read through all the responses on these two threads, so pardon me if I repeat a point already made. And I want to separate out my reaction to those folks turning their noses up at zines, and to those folks who feel that it is their "right" to have all fan fiction be available "free" on the Internet, because that's a separate discussion.

But here's the thing you have to remember about fanzines (and it's a carry-over to 'net fiction). They were typically nonprofit (for the most part) not because of moral or ethical reasons, but because of legal reasons, to hopefully stay under the "copyright infringement radar."

Fans have always made profits on their fandom activities: art, art prints, keychains, bookmarks, t-shirts, keychains, mugs, checkbook covers, tote bags, magnets, buttons, stuffed critters, sculptures--you name it, and some fan somewhere has made it, sold, it, and made a profit on it.

So--putting aside those legal considerations (and so many fans today think they don't exist anyway)--if a fan makes a profit from a fanzine (a much more frequent occurrence these days than in the Days of Yore) . . . so what?

It's like any other fan-made artifact. If you want it, and you think it's an acceptable price, buy it. If not, don't.
[fluterbev]: If you had read the discussion, you'd see that this is not nearly so polarised as you suggest. This is not 'us' versus 'them, 'zines' versus 'internet', or the 'old ways' versus 'the new'. I've seen a lot of support for reputable zines in ths discussion (as well as people who dislike them, and that's perfectly fine), and I am definitely not seeing the other side of the coin as you put it, ie a sense of extreme entitlement. Reactions are far more measured than that.
[kslangley56]: Yes, I see that there are folks speaking up for zines--which does not invalidate my comment, since it wasn't directed at those folks. And the "sense of entitlement" I refer to is the one espoused by those fans who think all fan fiction should be free, that fan fiction producers have an actual obligation to provide it free, and that people putting fiction in zines are somehow going against the basic principles of fandom. It's not a new drum they are beating. I've seen this same theme in other discussions--other recent discussions of this same download issue as well as countless discussions in countless online forums over the past dozen years.... Ultimately, you "vote with your wallet," as a friend of mine is wont to say--whether it's a zine, a t-shirt, a tote bag, a CD of songvids, a magnet, a bookmark, a zine download, a mug, a stuffed bear dressed as your favorite character, whatever. If you don't want it, or don't think it's worth whatever the price is, then don't buy it. Simple as that... I don't have a problem with fans making a profit on their fan works. (I do have a problem with zine producers who are publishing the work of other fans, making a profit, and not sharing that profit with those contributors . . . but I digress.)