Writer Beware

Okay, it’s been almost a full 24 hours and those hours have been pretty … revealing for me. That’s a good word.

Now, I post a lot of my work on this blog. I’m writing a zombie story with your help, I give you little previews of whatever I’m working on, and it’s all a lot of fun for me. Writing promotes writing – giving people something free to read, and if they like the sound of my voice in their head maybe they’ll also go and buy what I have for sale. My books are affordable, this isn’t paying for my mortgage. So the free reading tool is a lot of my marketing strategy.

One thing I haven’t posted on here is work from my Fanfiction portfolio. I link from my Fanfiction Profile to this blog and my Twitter and Facebook author accounts, but I’ve never sent traffic here to Fanfiction. It’s my dirty little secret, my writing Sons of Anarchy Fanfiction. It’s fun, fast, and it unlocks my writer’s block from time to time. Again, it was writing provided to a willing readership, and they seemed to like me, for the most part. And as a huge fan, I can let my imagination go where it wants. It’s not my world. Mostly they aren’t my characters or names or locations or plot points. I just tie my own stuff in.

This doesn’t mean I don’t work for it. I edit and reedit and research all of it. A few typing errors get through but hey, it’s free. And most of them I try to go back and fix. I’ve got an amazing, loyal following there, too. They are encouraging and thoughtful and motivate me to keep doing more.

Recently an entire story that I spent my spare time over the course of five months writing was suddenly very similar to a book being sold on Amazon. I made a stink, I admit it. I pulled a full-on thirteen year-old temper-tantrum and found the author’s Facebook Author’s page, posted that it was my story with revised names. I posted that fact on Amazon, Goodreads, then returned to my Fanfiction Family and told them about this.

I am now wary of sharing work on Fanfiction. I’m tempted to take all my stuff down. But I can’t, and do you know why? My Fanfiction Family lost their shit over this. They went everywhere the book was available from and shared the theft there. Kicked up a fuss and still took the time to write me messages of support. Well, one girl said I was hypocritical since Sons of Anarchy isn’t my work either. And she’d be right if I was trying to make money off of it. If that was the case Kurt Sutter would kick my ass – y’all know he would. So, big facepalm to her but she gets an opinion, too. She also said the other girl’s ending was better. I’ll agree to disagree – I’m just pleased the thief made some attempt at originality.

It’s Fanfiction, it’s meant to be fun. Shared for free by the fellow, tortured souls who fall in love with a world and just want to make a part of it for themselves. Some writers have a standing request with Fanfiction that their shit not be messed with. It’s right there in terms when you post your work. Sons of Anarchy and Kurt Sutter are not mentioned as being verboten. In this story, half the characters aren’t mine, but you know what is? My OC, her personality, life, thoughts, hopes, dreams, fears. And I loved her and put a lot into her. She’s sweet and tragic and has people that love her. So please don’t tell me it’s silly that this upset me. It’s sillier that people don’t want to give credit where its due. Or even worse: they don’t create their own work.

So thank you to all my insane, rabid, almost-scary fans who, in just under 20 hours no less, ran this girl to ground for me and created an overwhelming wave of support. I can’t tell you how humbling it is to have my silly, dirty little guilt pleasure inspire this kind of loyalty.

And I further caution other self-published writers: you know how much work it is to write original pieces. And it’s almost more work to market. I caution you to pencil in time each week to search the web for direct quotes of anything you’ve written. See where your stuff is turning up. Even if you were just nice enough to post it for free because you enjoy people reading it. It might be used in ways you don’t want, or to promote things you don’t agree with.

So did I lose faith? A little bit. At first. When my hands literally shook with anger for at least an hour. But then today happened and I remember what started all this: one Fanfiction reader, unassumingly letting me know on my Facebook author page that she just read the synopsis for a new title on Amazon and it was what she’d been reading on Fanfiction. So Fanfiction caused this emotion and Fanfiction made it better. Thank you, Tiffany Muir for pointing this out to me. And thank you to everyone from my usual readers who commented on the story EVERY DAY it was being revealed, and thank you to the Fanfiction heroes that got me sharing my stuff in the first place (LaughingWarrior, Happy’s Hitwoman). You know what? They invited me to also post over at The Freak Circle blog, which I was always wanting to be on … so I have that going for me, too.

Thank you again, everyone. I’m not stoking a fire that’s been put out with this – I really just want to say this as a thank you to everyone who got all up in people’s faces on my behalf. You’re all nuts, and I love you in a platonic, online, appreciative kind of way.

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One thought on “Writer Beware

  1. I know how you feel. I haven’t had work stolen before but I’ve poured time and energy to my OC’s and my plot lines. It’s a dirty little secret like you said but it is still yours. Your writing, your plot, your OC’s. Those are important things. I think all writers put something of themselves in each character – she stole part of you. I cant wait to read all of your stuff and welcome to the Freaks 🙂

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