What We Encounter In “Book World”

I try to avoid negativity here. But now and then you just want to vent politely. And this has been bothering me.

For over a year, I had been up to my eyeballs in my own writing effort. It was really only as I was putting the finishing touches to it last autumn that I had begun poking around on the web to see what some other independent authors were doing. I had been largely ignorant.

Much out there is excellent. Yet, as I searched, I progressed from ignorance to, sometimes, shock at some offerings. If you have worked hard to produce an original and full-length novel, it can be a bit deflating when you discover what others try to flog to potential readers. “Rip offs” may be too strong an expression. Still, many titles seem, uh, to be charitable, rather hurriedly thrown together.

There are also lapsed copyright works merely repackaged with new, brief introductions. Some are also simply republished out of copyright books that don’t even bother with new introductions. However, at least such books themselves are “classics.”


Separately, “fan fiction.” As a reader myself, personally those sort of works have never much interested me, so I don’t know exactly where I stand on the phenomenon. I do notice author attitudes toward it appear decidedly mixed: some well-known ones are untroubled when their works inspire it; others find it flattering; and others detest it.

If I were ever lucky that mine were to inspire any, I think I would view it mostly as flattering. I note “mostly” because, by the same token, I don’t know if I’d like to see my characters turned into, for example, sword-wielding vampires. They have become my close companions, and I care deeply about “what happens” to them. If I had wanted, say, Isabelle to be a vampire…. she would have been one. 😉

Whatever a “fan fiction’s” individual literary merit, the overall enterprise itself strikes me as borderline copyright infringing. True, a huge selling recent book started out as “fan fiction.” Yet as I understand it, that novel apparently also did not take off in its own right until its author had re-crafted it into an original story. Somewhat ironically also, other writers now “borrowing” from that story is not something its now mainstream publishers appear too pleased to see.

To me, honesty and originality are vital. I’m not asserting I’m authoring for the ages. (I wish!) But when I decided to write novels, it never entered my mind to compose anything other than full books, populated by my own created characters, and placed in my own invented realm. I had always thought all of that is fundamentally what novels are supposed to be?

Eh, what one learns, huh? Just thinking out loud here. I hope you’re having a good day…. wherever you happen to be reading this. Cheers. 🙂

8 thoughts on “What We Encounter In “Book World”

  1. You state some of my shared frustration perfectly. I have read in several places that when writing my artist statement or book proposals, I should cite similar works or which authors’ writing style is like my own. My characters are unique! My style is my own! Of course I may just be too close to my work to judge.

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    1. It’s true: probably we can be too close to our creations. And I’ve had a similar problem trying to explain where my book(s) fit in with others “like it.” I commiserate with you on that definitely.

      I’m not saying I’ve written another “War and Peace.” It’s just that as I am now paying more attention than ever before to fiction books and publishing, I find I can’t get over how much superficial unoriginality – even “cheating” – there is out there. I think most of us can spot “good” when we see it – even if it’s not our personal reading taste.


      1. Yes! Whether it’s literature or film (or even music for that matter), there doesn’t seem to be much originality left in this world. The way the trends work don’t help this cause much either. As soon as one vampire book makes it big and is optioned for film, everyone wants to sink their fangs into their own slice of fame and ride the wave. That makes it tough for anyone who just wants to write their own stories, and more importantly, to write them well.

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  2. I have to admit that I’m one of those writers who dabble in fanfiction, but never as anything other than a chance to practise my writing. I keep my original writing separate, and often I end up throwing in a lot of original characters into my fanfictions. However, I have noticed that I only write fanfictions on works based in myth or history such as Merlin, Musketeers or Leonardo. The eras hold interest for me and I tend to think that writing within those sort of frameworks allows for a write to focus in on making sure they get tone right. You don’t have to work out how many sisters your main character’s best friend has, you just have to make sure that you don’t have people eating potato before potato were introduced to that area.

    I avoid vampires though. The amount of supernatural law that is available makes it so more interesting to dig out older, lesser know creatures when writing.

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    1. You are allowed to dabble! 🙂 Actually, I never thought about the likes of the Musketeers as a source for fanfiction – given the books are now so old, out of copyright and the author is long dead. They would definitely be a good basis to build upon for further historical fiction drama.

      I bet someone out there must have written a Milady de Winter novel by now!


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