May 15, 2007
FanLib Provides Another Home For FanFic Writers

Not much time to write at length on this, but I wanted to make sure it made it onto everyone's radar. From last week's Cynopsis: launched as hub for "fan fiction" writers. The idea is to provide a home for creators of one of the first "user generated" genres, fan stories written using popular movie and TV characters and storylines. Members can upload stories, embed promos and build communities around their favorite shows. FanLib, founded by Titanic producer Jon Landau, Jon Moonves and former Yahoo! CMO Anil Singh, is also currently sponsoring the Ghost Whisperer Fan Finale Challenge on the site asking fans to write their own conclusion to the show's two-part finale.

Particularly interesting, since fan fiction seems to be one of the last traditional forms of fan creativity that hasn't been widely coopted and encouraged (within specific, copyright-friendly parameters) by the entertainment industry. I haven't given this as much thought as I should, but my offhand guess would be that fan fiction, unlike mashup videos, tribute songs, and so on, are harder to 'control,' and leave a lot more room for individual fans to take characters, or narratives, in directions that producers and executives aren't comfortable with.

That said, it's not surprising that FanLib exists; what intrigues me is the second part of the announcement, regarding the collaboration with CBS drama The Ghost Whisperer, asking fans to write their own endings to the season finale. The contest just ended, and the results are online... but I can't find any specific rules or directions anymore. Does anyone happen to know what restrictions, if any, the producers put in place when issuing the challenge?

(The prolific Sam Ford has written about other instances of commercially solicited fan fiction here, and probably in several other posts I can't find just now.)



The BBC's create your own Dr Who graphic novel is quite an interesting example. One could argue that it is not purely fan fiction given the graphical part of the expression but when you have RTD giving helpful hints on how to write your script I think the difference becomes a tad dogmatic. So far their control is in what graphical widgets they provide to the user (one wonders if the lack of Capt Jack is a deliberate move to keep it PG-13 or whether he will be added in later) and all submitted comics supposedly go via mods to check you aren't posting any "nasty, rude or offensive storylines". There have been a fair number of discussions recently about whether we are just going to end up with the "nice" stuff that has the official approval and then the "other" stuff that doesn't get talked about (although it will be curious to see whether there an age and/or gender split appears along with this). Now if only the BBC would give us a 'post-watershed' make-your-own Torchwood graphic novel you could get a really interesting comparisons going :-)


Thanks for mentioning Fanlib. The Ghost Whisperer contest had very few rules:

Here they are.

All eligible Fics and Reviews must: (a) be submitted during the Contest Period; (b) be written in English; (c) be written for and assigned to the Ghost Whisperer Challenge fandom; (d) be worthy of a content rating of "All Ages" or "13+"; (e) be original; (f) comply with the Site's Terms of Service available at; and (f) be made "public" on the Site.

Basically, there were no content restrictions other than the age requirement which was there because anything adult is screened out on site for underage readers.

The Doctor Who example by the commenter above is excellent, also there were those fan written Star Trek short story books that were put out each year.

As for censorship on the site, we've yet to remove anything that I know of. It's true that currently we have a large selection of what people might call "tame" fiction, but that's just what people uploaded. Fanlib does allow "adult" fiction.


It's important to ask what the fans gain from the "official" involvement of a show in the fan fiction writing. If the show wasn't going to come after them for copyright violations anyway for having their story posted, what is the benefit of being officially sanctioned, other than perhaps getting your story read by a greater number of people? Do you get the sense that the winning entries in these type of cases will get fairly wide distribution and be highly touted? Otherwise, I would expect some fans would rather just write and distribute stories independently, in lieu of having to go through an editorial net.


i suggest you go here:
for some indication as to how FANLIB is being viewed by, you know, actual fanfic authors. a pathetic attempt at making a buck off-of other people's work. i am only comforted by the fact that it will be sure to fail.