Sandra Brown says No to Fanfic

I posted this back in January, but since Holly Lisle has been taking some flack from fanficcers for her stance against fanfiction, it’s worth posting again…

Bestselling author Sandra Brown  doesn’t like fanfic based on her work and wants her fans to help her find it.  She posts this note on her site.

A Word About "Fan Fiction"

We post excerpts from some of Sandra’s more recent books so that you, the
reader, can make more informed purchasing decisions.  We now ask that you
  help us in return.  Fan Fiction is illegal.  Taking characters from an
  author’s work and adapting stories
around them constitutes copyright infringement. 

If you discover "Fan Fiction" of Mrs. Brown’s work, please don’t
hesitate to email us.

36 thoughts on “Sandra Brown says No to Fanfic”

  1. Lee,
    I think this would be a good place for a discussion of fanfic. Maybe some “pro” fanficcers (apologies to Tod for the quotes) could come here and post some comments about how they feel about fanfic, and then you and others could post opposing views.
    Might be interesting.
    However, I’m sure the fanfic people wouldn’t be wasting their time here on this blog. They probably don’t even know it exists.
    Sorry, I guess it was a bad idea.

  2. Candy, no, there isn’t. I don’t know why all these authors, who have no fandoms at all, are so worried about fanfiction?!
    Dear writers, in order to find out whether you indeed have inspired enough fans that one can speak of a fandom, please google your name attached to words like: mailing list, message board, fanfiction, archive etc. If you come up with zilch results you don’t have a fandom and need to keep on writing in the hope that – perhaps one day – you will qualify for one. Good luck!

  3. kete u so rock!!!! meet me at the flagpole after phys Ed. tomorow, i heard jocelyn likez u!!!!!!

  4. Sandra Brown has sold, literally, millions and millions of books in numerous languages and all that. She is what is known as a “best-selling author,” Kete, which would indicate that while she might not have legions of fans writing stories based on her books, I’d venture to say that she has a rather sizeable fandom, just simply one that, you know, does other stuff with their spare time.

  5. Kete,
    Not all “fandoms” behave like scifi & fantasy geeks. Sandra Brown has a HUGE fan base…they just aren’t snot-nosed adolescents or maladjusted adults.

  6. Fine, but if Ms Browns fans are so well adjusted then why the threat to fan writers? It’s like this very old and clichรฉd gag where the blonde on the wrong side of fifty cries, “Please don’t rape me!” when in reality the moustached villain just thought about letting her go because she reminds him of his old mother.

  7. So basically, Ms. Brown is damned by Kete if she does, and damned by K. Snow if she doesn’t. (From K. Snow’s comment under Lee’s “How Hated Am I?” entry, “And yes, I DO think it’s up to the writer/creator to get out there and make their wishes known.”)
    Maybe somebody should write a Catch-22 fanfic.

  8. Sandra Brown’s entitled to her view, whoever she is. (No, I’ve never heard of her, either.) I’ts helpful that she makes her stand clear to anyone who may be tempted.
    But from the quote, it’s also clear that it is her view and not being presented as a universal law which applies to other writers who may not share it. Like J K Rowling (alive, supportive within limits) or J R R Tolkien (dead, so hardly entitled to an opinion, but was vaguely supportive when alive) for example.
    Is that hard to grasp? (I like haggis, but I don’t expect everyone else to share that taste. You may like asparagus, but don’t expect me to eat it.)

  9. Ten years ago, I was, if not wildly supportive of the idea of fanfic, at least tolerant of it. A few fans asked if they could write fanfic using my characters, I told them they could as long as they understood that they could not publish it and that I owned all rights to the characters, and that under no circumstances would I be willing to read what they’d written.
    Times changed, associates started having to take legal action against people who were writing in their worlds without permission, and I asked my fans to please discontinue writing fanfiction in my worlds. Which they did.
    There were some fanfic writers posting in these threads who said they would respect the wishes of authors who stated clearly that they didn’t want fanfic written around their characters or worlds.
    So obviously there are still some decent people like my fans who are writing fanfic, and I feel badly about having to post a harsh notice informing all fanfic writers that under no circumstances will I condone any fanfic set in my worlds, and that any such writing that IS done will be treated as derivative work and prosecuted.
    Looking at the quality of people posting here, however — people who are actively hostile toward the creators of the original work, who hold the rights of the original creators in complete disregard, and who state that they don’t care whether the original creators want them writing in their worlds or not — that they intend to do what they want until someone forces them to stop — I’m confident that the posting of my notice is necessary.
    As for taking heat from the people who have chosen to use my statements as an opportunity to vilify me — ah, well. They’ve also done a pretty good job of disseminating my wishing across a number of sites and boards, thus decreasing the chances that someone writing fanfic in one of my worlds could claim ignorance of my clearly worded hands-off post.
    So, to all of you who have been spreading the word for me, my deepest thanks.

  10. Er, did anyone notice that kete rules!! used the wrong “they’re”? Obviously not a writer.
    I understand both sides of it.
    Fanfic is a good way for nascent writers to cut their teeth- it’s just a matter of understanding that selling or publicizing it like it’s your own is morally wrong, disrespectful to the people you’re claiming to be a fan of and, incidentally, illegal.
    I’m guessing this is a case of a couple bad apples spoiling the bunch.
    Fanfic, in some cases, can be beneficial to the writers. Look at the communities that have sprung up around Star Trek- those folk do far more good for ST than bad- fanfic feeds the obsession and leads folks to spend even more money on the stuff.
    But, that’s a story and characters that have been around since god was a small boy, and the rules are different for that than for,say, a respectable midlister who isn’t exactly a household name. Someone like that would have much more to lose.
    Like I said, I see both sides. The bottom line is to just respect the wishes of the creator, for or against.

  11. JA Konrath, fer God’s sake, don’t let Harlan hear you say that. He’s taken more people to court for that very reason than nearly any author alive today. I guarantee you, he would NOT be flattered.

  12. Okay, Maestro, you’re right in so far that if we want authors to make their wishes with regard to fanfiction known, they have to step forward and declare their position. But why this hostile attitude towards people who actually buy your books and therewith feed you?
    Why not just make a statement like, “Dear readers, although I’m very flattered by your interest in my work and your wish to participate in the virtual worlds created by me, I don’t feel comfortable with the principle of fanfiction and would therefor ask you not to use my characters and/or my settings for your own writings.” Or something like that?
    You always rave on and on about how impolite and without respect for the writers we fanwriters are. What is with politeness and respect for the people who spend money on their works from the authors’ side? It’s neither necessary nor wise to bite the hand that feeds you – especially if you as yet don’t have reason to do so and just wish to make a prohibitive statement.

  13. I’m currently working on some fanfic starring Kete and Rommel. It’s very hot, if you can get past the bad teeth.

  14. But why this hostile attitude towards people who actually buy your books and therewith feed you?

    Why the hostile attitude towards writers/creators of the work you love? Have you read Novik’s comments about authors? According to her, it doesn’t matter how politely an author asks people not to write fanfic based on their work…Novik and her arrogant ilk don’t care. Whatever an author publishes or broadcasts belongs to the world to do with as they please. That is that attitude that Holly Lisle was referring to. It’s also an attitude reflected by hundreds of fanficcers who have posted here on Lee’s blog.

  15. FFW, you’re writing REAL PEOPLE HET??? Shame on you! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Please keep in mind, although a gen-writer, I’m kinky by nature and won’t be pleased if you write me OOC.

  16. ‘mouse, I happen to share Naomi Novik’s take on things – ideas cannot be owned. But that’s still no reason for writers – who after all want to sell their books – to annoy their clientel. At least I wouldn’t advise them to do so. If you feel threatened by fanfic, would it be more clever to be diplomatic and politely state your opinion on it or to alienate *all* fans, even those who didn’t intend to write fanfic in your world, by pulling an Anne Rice?

  17. What Ms. Brown wrote didn’t seem at all rude. Who would be offended by that?
    As for Anne Rice, I admire her for taking strong public stands for what she believes in, even if I don’t agree with her. Lady’s got guts.

  18. I think some writers are flattered by fan-fic. That’s why I’ve posted several stories on my website using Harlan Ellison’s characters.
    Run, Joe. Run now. Don’t stop to ask questions, just run as far and as fast as you can. If he comes by here looking for you, we’ll try to stall Harlan by asking him to tell us some “William Shatner is a putz” stories.

  19. Not all “fandoms” behave like scifi & fantasy geeks. Sandra Brown has a HUGE fan base…they just aren’t snot-nosed adolescents or maladjusted adults.
    Not all “fandoms” are sci-fi & fantasy geeks. One of the largest fandoms I have ever been a member of is ER. We don’t publish fanzines or have conventions, no, but we have written literally thousands of stories in the past 11 years.
    I do have to admit, though, that the concept of writing fan fiction based on novels is a new (and slightly alien) concept to me. I guess you’d have to call me an “onscreen fanficcer.” I only write fan fiction about television shows, and specifically only for shows that have been off the air for decades, or whose creators either have not forbidden it or have embraced it.
    In all honesty, I don’t understand the point of writing stories about a written story.
    any such writing that IS done will be treated as derivative work and prosecuted.
    I understand, Ms. Lisle, your desire to keep people out of your world – I do. I for one would never dream of writing a story set there – then again, I know nothing about it. I’ve never read one of your books, I’ve never heard of you before Mr. Goldberg’s post about your dislike of fanfic, and I have absolutely no idea just exactly what your world is.
    And herein lies the “grey area” of fan fiction, and what is, IMO, the real reason that the US court system seems so loathe to tackle the issue.
    Let’s say that I write a novel of my own, a year from now. And the world that I build for that novel just happens to be almost identical to yours, down to the color of the trees at sunset (which may or may not be important in your world; I don’t know). You here about my book, or you read it, and you say to yourself, “This person stole my work and must be prosecuted!”
    So you have me served, and your lawyer calls, and the accusations are leveled – I’m labeled a thief, a cheat, a plagiarist… except for that one tiny little detail I mentioned before – I’ve never read a book written by you, so how could I have possibly stolen your world?
    Whose copyright protections apply more to this situation? Yours or mine? Is my story less valid for the fact that you dreamed this world up before I did?
    This is, IMO, the reason why copyright law expressly states that it does not apply to ideas, only may apply to the way those ideas are expressed, and only definitively covers the actual work in which those ideas are expressed.
    Hemingway could not copyright the idea of an old man fishing, may have been able to copyright the way he told the story, but definitely could copyright The Old Man and the Sea.
    ~ bri ~

  20. “Most readers don’t play mimic with the authors they read. Those that do are a smallish cult.”
    I don’t want to be contrary, but that’s really not all that true. There is a very large number of fanwriters – just only a small few that are actually any good. Personally, I forgive the little kids; they’re too young to actually pay attention in English. As for the adults, there are some who are foreign, and therefore not as well versed in English. Then again, some foreigners write the language better than my old English teacher, who couldn’t spell “kitsch” after ten minutes with a dictionary. It’s a matter of individuals, not groups.
    And as for the word “cult” – it has religious connotations. Personally, I’m a Christian, not a worshipper of J.K. Rowling. As much as I like reading her books, she hasn’t multiplied any loaves of bread or been crucified yet.
    “I don’t know why all these authors, who have no fandoms at all, are so worried about fanfiction?!”
    Don’t be rude. Just because a person says they don’t want fanfiction written, this doesn’t mean they have no readers. In fact, I’d say the opposite, if it’s become a problem.
    Er, did anyone notice that kete rules!! used the wrong “they’re”?
    ‘kete rules!!’ is pretty obviously a joker.
    “It’s also an attitude reflected by hundreds of fanficcers who have posted here on Lee’s blog.”
    Really? I haven’t seen hundreds. I’ve seen one or two, and I’ve been through all of the posts so I don’t copy any arguments already made. A lot of these people have been perfectly polite and rational – not all of them, I’ll admit, but quite a few. They’ve said over and over that they respect authors’ wishes and will not write in a world stated off-limits. I am one of these people.
    “Not all “fandoms” behave like scifi & fantasy geeks. Sandra Brown has a HUGE fan base…they just aren’t snot-nosed adolescents or maladjusted adults.”
    This is a prime example of why people keep getting rude around here. It doesn’t help anything to generalize, as I’ve had to point out many times. If anything, it makes things worse. Claiming that anyone that writes fanfiction is a snot-nosed adolescent or, if older, obviously maladjusted, is a pretty clear ad hominem attack. If I called all television writers idiots with deep-seated psychological problems, you’d go defensive too.
    Lastly, to be clear – there are mystery, western, romance, and true crime geeks as well. I know some of them, and they’re very nice people.

  21. the US court system seems so loathe to tackle the issue
    That’s one of the silliest comments I’ve read in this “debate” so far. The courts don’t tackle anything. Injured parties sue, accused parties defend, judges rule, juries decide and lawyers make money.
    Why haven’t the courts ruled on this largely trivial question? Because nobody’s brought a case. Why has no one brought a case? Because there’s no money in it.


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