by Doctor Science
Our story so far:
The process of taking a piece of fanfic and re-purposing it for professional sale is known as filing off the serial numbers. Obviously you first have to change the names -- unless the source you're working from is something like Arthurian legend (it's fanfic all the way down) or Sherlock Holmes, which is now largely public domain.
Filing off the serial numbers is much more complicated if the source has a unique setting or setup, as is often the case for SF and fantasy stories. By the time the writer has changed the background enough to be non-infringing, the story really is an original creation. For instance, unless you've been told that Lois McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor started out as a Star Trek fanfic, you won't know or care that the Barrayarans are a lot like the Klingons, while the Betans are rather Vulcan. Similarly, Naomi Novik's Temeraire pretty obviously started with the idea of a crossover between Master and Commander and Dragonriders of Pern, where Steven Maturin is a *dragon* -- but developing that idea to the point of suspension of disbelief required a heck of a lot of work and creativity.
On the other hand, it's very easy to file off serial numbers for most Twilight fanfic, because a great deal of is classified as All-Human AU: set in an alternate universe in which all the characters are fully human -- no vampires (sparkly or otherwise) nor werewolves. Essentially, AHs are romance novels where the main characters have personalities (and physical appearances) like canon Edward and Bella, but where the set-up is re-worked in any way that strikes the writer's fancy. Making such a story into original fiction can be just a matter of changing names, some description, and any of the lines where you directly quote or echo canon (which happens in almost every AU to one degree or another, that's part of the fun).
Fanfic writers often *talk* about filing off the serial numbers and going pro, but heretofore it's been uncommon. Twilight fandom is groundbreaking because at least two for-profit e-publishers have arisen from within the fandom, geared to taking popular, well-written stories through the filing-off process to pro publication. OmniFic Publishing started in 2009, while The Writer's Coffee Shop started as an online discussion forum and became a publisher in October 2010. OmniFic is officially based in Dallas, TWCS in New South Wales, Australia -- but they're both really "in" Twilight fandom, location: The Internet.
Dagnabit, I can't find the reference -- I saw an article about 50SoG and the publishing industry, quoting from someone in the industry talking about how she used to know what were going to be the best-sellers months ahead of time, because every book of any importance was put out by the Big Six. And then she protested that she couldn't possibly have anticipated that *this* book would be wildly popular, when it came from a small press in *Australia*.
But TWCS is only physically based in New South Wales, Australia, on the other side of the world from “the publishing industry”. Its actual location is The Internet.
The large segment of Twilight fandom that doesn’t approve of re-purposing fanfic for pro publication often disparages OmniFic and TWCS as “vanity presses”, but this is inaccurate and unfair. A true vanity press is one where the author pays for publication, either directly or by being required to sell a certain number of books. OmniFic and TWCS may appeal to the vanity of popular Twilight authors, but they're real publishing houses that pay author royalties, at least as well as the big-name New York publishers.
And unlike most Big Six editors, their editors actually edit. Some people [link to Google cache version of Dear Author article; original link http://dearauthor.com/features/industry-news/master-of-the-universe-versus-fifty-shades-by-e-l-james-comparison/ gives me a virus warning] have argued that Fifty Shades of Grey is "just the same" as Master of the Universe, and that almost no work was required to change the fanfic into a profic. I disagree.
Here's a random section from MotU, edited in Microsoft Word with "Track Changes" enabled until it becomes the corresponding section from 50SoG:
Speaking as someone who's done professional editing, that's a *lot* of work. Someone who really knows what they're doing has been over this line by line for sentence structure, word choice, and punctuation -- starting with a radical ellipsisectomy. I took this section from the early chapters, written when E.L. James was just finding her writing feet. By the end of 50SoG the editorial hand is much lighter, but there are still enough corrections for me to see that it continued to be carefully edited.
In the fanfic community, this kind of editing is included under beta reading. Not all beta-readers do line-by-line SPAG editing, and it's rare for the editing to be as extensive as it was for 50SoG, but it's not unknown, either. For a long work like MotU, a fan writer generally has a "beta team", a group of people who critique the rough draft. E.L. James also, I'm sure, had an "Ameripicker": a native speaker of American English who could correct the Britishisms that would inevitably slip in. "Britpickers" are frequently used by American fans writing about sources from the UK, a practice that Harry Potter fandom showed is very necessary.
This is part of what lj was talking about in when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. "Professional" (as in, paid) editors at the Big Six are forced to do "amateurish" (as in, sloppy and careless) jobs of editing, but "amateur" (as in, unpaid) writers and editors can exhibit "professional" (as in, meticulous and consistent) standards. This creates a kind of osmotic pressure to pull fan works to the paying side of the Force. In Twilight fandom, that osmotic pressure is considerable.
When a writer decides to file the serial numbers off hir fanfic for the pro market, ze starts by deleting it from the sites where it was posted. This is called "pulling to publish" or P2P, and the list of P2P Twilight fics is pretty long.
This is of course deeply irritating to anyone who's discussed or recommended a P2P fic, because their links are now rotted. It's even more irritating to readers who were very fond of a particular work, because the list of fic that has been successfully published is much shorter than the P2P list: most of them haven't been published, they've just vanished -- apparently forever.
Or would have, except this is the internet. P2P has become common enough that many Twifans archive PDF copies of all the good, long stories they see, and it doesn't take much googling to find an archive for any particular missing fic.
The archives aren't just a convenience: fans do this because they're angry about P2P. They're angry because fandom is a gift economy, and monetizing something from a gift economy is *always* trouble.
The way it works in fandom is that the writer makes a gift of her story to whoever reads it -- but the fannish community also makes gifts to her: beta readers, generalized cheering, feedback and comments, recommendations, art based on the story, invitations to speak at cons, and the real but difficult-to-measure quality known as "prestige" or "being a BNF".
In a Gift Economy, the *thing* -- in this case, the story -- isn't just valuable for itself alone, but is significant as part of a *relationship*, embedded in a network of relationships. To take the thing out of the gift economy and move it into the money economy can tear the relationships of which the thing was a part -- and *that*'s why a lot of Twifans are angry about P2P.
Imagine what kind of problems might arise in your extended family if an heirloom, given by one family member to another, was then sold by the recipient on hir own recognizance and for hir own profit. This is the kind of thing that can embitter relationships for a generation -- what Terry Pratchett describes as the "What They Said About Our Sharon" phenomenon. In fandom, we call this wank.
If E. L. James were the only Twiwriter to have turned a popular fanfic into profic via P2P, she would have been the center of a truly epic wankstorm. But she was neither the only nor the first; it's a general Twifandom phenomenon, not a special case. I wasn't surprised to see that Twilight fandom has a substantial number of wank communities -- online groups for the basic purpose of bitching about other people in the fandom (see, e.g. the ones discussed here). Every large fandom has *some* wank, but the level of rancor in Twilight fandom seems especially high … or else I'm just a fogey. This is possible -- those damn kids are sure spending a lot of time on my lawn, playing that loud music.
P2P can be bitterly problematic within fandom, but it's close to the image many outsiders have about what fanfic is for. A common metaphor is that fanfiction is "training wheels" for "real", original fic. To pick an arbitrary example, Neil Gaiman says:
But I do think that, in the final analysis, all a writer really has to give is the stuff that only she or he can give the world and no-one else can. That the sooner you sound like you and tell the stories only you can tell, for good or for ill, the better. And from that point of view, I suppose I think of fan-fiction as training wheels. Sooner or later you have to take them off the bike and start wobbling down the street on your own.I don't know who came up with the "training wheels" metaphor -- I certainly heard it in the late 1990s. It may well be that the analogy seems so obvious that many people have come up with it independently.
I wonder if one factor behind the growth of P2P in Twifandom is that it's the first fandom for a majority the people in it: they can't draw on as much experience with fandom in general, nor have most of them been inculcated with general standards and expectations about fanfiction.
There's a rather problematic expression for fans like this: feral fans. I have the feeling I may have been present in the fannish discussion when the term first came into use, and as I recall the reference was to feral children, and specifically to the philosophical thought experiment of the tabula rasa, a child growing up on a desert island without adult contact. IIRC we were discussing encountering people who had invented or discovered fanfic (especially slash) for themselves, without knowing that anyone else had done such a thing. They were "feral" in the sense of "pure, untrammeled by learned convention" instead of "wild, fierce and undomesticated".
In this sense, Twilight is sometimes called a "feral fandom", one which develops its own customs and terminology, and which may not follow the patterns established by earlier fandoms. This can make it fresh and distinctive, but it also means that Twifandom hadn't necessarily learned from older fandoms' mistakes.
- Calling a story with explicit sex (or the explicit sex scenes in a larger fic) a lemon. This expression is a reference to a Japanese anime, Cream Lemon , and while it is common in fandoms based on anime and manga, it's rare for fandoms based on English-language books or live-action video (movies or TV).
- Regularly posting lemons and other "adult" stories at fanfiction.net. FFN changed their Terms of Service in 2002 such that "NC-17"-rated stories are no longer accepted and can be removed at any time if the site owner finds out about them. Most other fandoms are aware that FFN isn't really a good place to archive stories with explicit sex (not least because the users average *very* young, probably a median under 18), so relatively early on in the fandom's development people will work to set up one or more adult-friendly archives for the fandom as a whole. Nowadays the Archive of Our Own is often used as a backup, at least: because the servers are owned by a fannish 501(c)(3) non-profit, we don't have to worry about the kind of unexpected TOS changes that have sunk many an archive in the past.
Twilight fandom doesn't seem to have done much of this infrastructure-building. I suspect that most Twifans found fanfiction.net, figured Hey, this is where the fanfic goes, and started using it without thinking about the TOS and whether it can be counted on for the long run.
- P2P, which as I said above is quite unusual outside Twifandom, and is almost always attempted by one writer at a time. Certainly there's never been anything like the number of successful P2P Twilight works in any other fandom. They are boldly going where no fan has really gone before.
That's more than 2500 words, which should be enough for now. Next up: I at last answer (or at least discuss) the question, "But is it any good?"
Spoiler alert: Better than I expected, but my expectations were *extremely* low.
The installation is a take on the free store, a concept popular during the Spanish Civil War, where clothes are donated by the community and gifted back into the community without any direct exchange. ... Memorial for a Thousand Lorcas investigates the use of gift economy to explore the way we interact with the past and how we collectively process and heal.
 For fanfic, canon means "the original source material". This usage started with Sherlock Holmes fandom. I believe it came into media fandom as whole by way of W. S. Baring-Gould's The Annotated Sherlock Holmes -- long-time Star Trek fans have told me they first recall seeing "canon" in the fanfic sense in the late 1970s or early 1980s.
Sherlockians called the published stories and novels of Arthur Conan Doyle their "canon", because they were their version of "Holy Writ". I consider this usage to be Ha-Ha-Only-Serious.
 SPAG = Spelling, Punctuation And Grammar.
 Ze/hir is the gender-neutral singular pronoun most common where I hang out. It is not uncommon, however, for fandoms I'm familiar with to use "she" for the default.