Question for Authors

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Title: Question for Authors
Creator: post by witchqueen, plus commenters
Date(s): October 6, 1998
Fandom: The X-Files
External Links: Question for Authors; archive link, with expanded comments
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Question for Authors is a 1998 post to by witchqueen.

The post and fans' subsequent comments illustrate the wide variety of opinions regarding the archival of fanfic, permissions, and fan creators' controls versus fans' desire for content.

Some Excerpts


I've noticed a number of authors who really prefer that their stories not be archived anywhere besides one particular archive, maybe Gossamer or a mailing list archive or their own page or no archive at all, and I find myself curious as to why. I've tried to think about a reason, and the only thing I can come up with is that you want your stories to be whole ... but I would think that anyone who would respect your no archive request would also respect a "post only in its entirety" request. Is it a desire to be able to do updates and know that all of the copies out there are as accurate as you can make them?

I can understand that perhaps you don't want a story to be widely circulated ... but in that case, why post it to Usenet?

In any case, I would honestly like to know why, especially as some of the latest nastiness revolves around the issue of distribution, in whole or in part, of other people's work.


Some possible reasons...

Quality of the site... Is it nice?

Type of site.... If they include merchandise or money paying banners I would refuse. (gets into potential legal problems)

Thats the only thing I look for.



I don't want my stories spread all over the Net. I want to know where they are. DejaNews has them, the Annex has the longer works, and everything else is on my own page. I am more than capable of keeping them myself and I prefer it

that way.


I like my stuff to be on my site and Gossamer only - though out of trust I've let a few friends also archive.

The reason? Quality of the sites, absolutely. Call me a control freak, but I don't want my stuff up on a yellow page with pink letters and little red hearts dancing in the corners, where "your" is mistaken for "you're!" <vbg>

More seriously, though: there are a lot of sites that serve the personal causes of their creators, which is appropriate. But I don't necessarily want my fanfic lined up next to a religious message or a political diatribe - or even a catty little flame war. I figure the best way to keep that from

happening is to archive my stuff myself.

Sheryl Martin:

... perhaps you don't want a story to be widely.

well, to start off with - I readily admit that I am a naive fool in the ways of the world...


I write to first and foremost entertain people, and send it out any which way that I can to reach the maximum amount of readers - all roads led to Gossamer in the past, so I primarily direct people to the massive archive there - nonwithstanding politics, which I've never understood anyway and can't comprehend, it's ten thousand stories that you won't find in any single place else... and any other archives that are out there are certainly welcome to take my stories as quickly as I can send them over...

I let anyone archive my stories on their page if they ask - and I know some of them don't, and if I went and did a search I would probably be aghast at some of the places they've turned up at - but as you noted; sending it out on Usenet automatically makes it impossible to adequately control it forever and ever... unless there's a cool way of sneaking onto people's HDs that I don't know about... which is one of the things that always puzzles me when people either change their aliases or whatnot - the original version of their story must be sitting on a lot of personal HDs, and you can't reach them all... so why have an ulcer trying???

I only got my own web page a few months ago, due to a wonderful fan who decided that it was time for this Web-less Dragon to finally get her own page - and I don't think I was suffering for the lack of it; although it's nice to be able to direct readers to a single spot to get a particular story from my own bunch o'fluff...

I guess my attitude is that if I can't control it all, I won't try and control anything - rumours abound of people running off hard copies of online fanfic and taking the names off to sell them; of plagarism (both proven and unproven) and other things... so the way I see it, you either post and then deal with the fact that the story might be misused in any way or form; or just don't post... which is a rather closed circle right there...

me, I write; I post... hopefully I make someone happy or cheer them up after a hard day... that's all I worry about, honestly... if someone had their day made a bit better by reading some fluff and perhaps got some fun outta it... I'm happy...

hey, I told you I was naive...

and this post probably proved it, hands down...


Justin Glasser:

Although I have yet to say no, I like to be asked permission to archive my work. For the most part, this is for my own personal information--I like to know where I can go and visit my stuff. However, I do look at all of the sites that request permission for political reasons. I couldn't care less if the site is schmoopy romantic, or totally noromo, or whatever, but I have seen some sites that support ideological opinions I don't support, and I wouldn't want my name on those sites. Fortunately, I haven't been asked by those sites for archive permission (and there aren't that many of them), but I still like to keep an eye out, just in case.


I initially was only archived on Gossamer. When Yvonne Harrison started X-Clusive, she asked me for permission to list my fiction, and I gave it, tremendously flattered to be included with other established fanfic writers I respected immensely.

Later, in the summer of last year, I took my stories from Gossamer because of a civil disagreement with Chael Hall over policies. We agreed to disagree.

Which left things only on X-Clusive and due to some unpleasant events and the sometimes intertwined nature of the fanfic community, I wanted them archived ONLY there. No ads. No flame wars, that I was personally aware of. No political statements that I discerned.

Besides, my readership seemed to expand exponentially on X-Clusive, which was fun.

As for taking it down, that's a simple matter of wanting it in my own hands and having control of it. We rely so much on fairness and courtesy in this venue, and if that cannot be relied on, I'd rather just have it down.

So, yeah, it's sort of about distribution, at least for me, but ultimately it's about keeping my hands on my own stuff. These stories are our children, sort of, our creations, and I didn't want mine playing in the street or associating

with companions of whom I didn't approve.


<< This is supposed to be FUN!>>

Well, the way I do it is fun for me. It doesn't cause me any consternation, and it doesn't seem to limit the number of readers.

<< When you start *worrying* about it, it kind of defeats the purpose. >>

Well, for me the purpose is to get people to read my fiction. They can do that the way it is. That's why I leave my stories on Gossamer - so people can find them, so they're easily accessible.

<< If you really want that kind of total control over your work, don't post it to usenet. >>

It's OK with me if people don't understand why I do what I do. I have reasons for my choices, and they're not up for public debate. But my choices don't mean I'm not having fun, or that I'm defeating the purpose of my writing.

Above all, the issue doesn't come down to "EITHER let your stuff be archived everywhere OR don't post your stuff at all. " It's about individual people, who have to make choices for their stories based on their own experiences. There are shy authors and nervy ones. Extroverts and introverts. There's not one "right" way to get fanfic out there.


I basically keep all my publishable (i.e. non-fanfic, non-derivative) writing OFF the Internet and usenet. Once I send a story out into the great cybersea, I realize it's like a message in a bottle -- there's no controlling where it ends up or what happens to it. Which, in a way, is half the fun.

Just one more point: There IS something I worry about in relation to my fanfic activities. I believe it's a much more realistic worry than how my stories are archived or who takes credit for them. I worry about attracting unwanted attention by becoming something of a public figure in the fanfic community. That's why I publish under a pseudonym. Realistically, the worst that would be likely to happen if I published under my real name would be the embarrasment of a coworker or a relative discovering I write erotica. But there's an off chance that someone would bother me in meatspace. In fact, I know of one fanfic writer who was pretty freaked out when she received a snail mail letter at her home address from a fan.