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Policies & Practices > Fanfiction

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I know this is a controversial one, but what is the official policy on fanfiction being on Goodreads?

The most recent thread I can find on it is from two years ago, and if I've read it right, there was a move towards accepting novel-length FF. Is this still the best rule of thumb we have at the moment? There was also this one, which had a lot of commentary but no (from what I saw) official comment.

The manual accepts "fanfiction which is self-published in book format". Which ultimately brings us to the question of what 'self-publishing', and 'book format' mean. If that's something that is clear to other people, I'd appreciate a heads-up. If we've all got opinions but no real answers, is it something PTB can comment on?

Does putting something on a blog constitute self-publishing? Where is the line drawn on internet publishing? Is 'book format' to do with the aesthetic of the thing or are we talking about whether it's available in ePub or MOBI or whatever?

I know people have strong opinions on fanfiction and its legitimacy, but with more and more of it entering mainstream publishing it seems timely to have another discussion about it. I know there's a reasonably-sized group of us who read and discuss it on here, and that group seems to be growing (as is the list of entries for the works we are reading). People have, quite rightly, brought up issues of inconsistencies around entering fanfiction work into Goodreads and so forth, and I think a little policy would go a long way to helping sort it all out.


message 2: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
Moss wrote: "The most recent thread I can find on it is from two years ago, and if I've read it right, there was a move towards accepting novel-length FF."

Yes. The manual was changed based on that.


Moss wrote: "Does putting something on a blog constitute self-publishing?"

Technically, yes. However, it should be book-length, and complete.


Sandra  (MyFictionNook) | 244 comments So, incomplete fanfics should not be added to GR? Also, what about fanfics that are added by a reader with a link to the website, but are then pulled by the author? How would those be handled?


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

rivka wrote: "Technically, yes. However, it should be book-length, and complete. "

Not trying to be difficult, but I don't know what book-length means. Different genres will have different expectations when it comes to word count. The internet is no help either, because it's saying anything from 40k to 120k. Is there something on GR that defines it or it that enough of a guideline?

Also, is it in any way possible to revisit that definition? Fanfiction is a genre by itself, and we allow other genres different boundaries up to a point. A lot of very good fanfiction doesn't get anywhere near that wordcount (I know, I used the flashword good). It seems, I don't know, incongruous to only allow it to exist here if it fits a mould another genre occupies.


message 5: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
Sandra wrote: "So, incomplete fanfics should not be added to GR?"

I believe that is what was previously decided.


message 6: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
Moss wrote: "Not trying to be difficult, but I don't know what book-length means."

Neither do I. I suspect the idea was to keep the fics being added to the database from taking over, but it's neither my term nor my decision.


message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Okay then. I'll just .... quietly slip away, then shall I?

Thanks for pitching in :)


message 8: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
Fanfiction is not exactly a subject that lends itself to clear definitions.


message 9: by [deleted user] (last edited Apr 23, 2012 06:15PM) (new)

rivka wrote: "Fanfiction is not exactly a subject that lends itself to clear definitions."

I know, I can totally appreciate that. And I have a lot of sympathy for anyone trying to find a way to catalogue it, believe me. Just trying to make the entries as rigorous as possible is a thing all of itself. I do appreciate you responding.


rameau | 42 comments This is all so confusing to me. So, basically, we're not to touch fanfics listed on this site at all?

Is there any way to separate or indicate that a listing is in fact a self-published fanfic ebook or not, and not a book in the traditional sense?


Krystal109 | 1081 comments What do you do with fanfics that were once on a website and no longer are published on a website? They are basically GONE and no longer exist, except possibly or the writers hard drive.

I don't see a point in GR keeping info up for a book that is "no longer published" on a website.


message 12: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
How is that any different than a book that is out of print for years? GR has never had a policy that a book must currently be available.


Krystal109 | 1081 comments Out of print means people may still own a copy. A digitally posted fanfiction, that you can't purchase and is merely hosted, doesn't really exist anywhere when it is no longer hosted on a website.

Sure someone, somewhere, may have copy and pasted it onto their drive... I guess.

It was just a question.


Chris (egret17) | 50 comments Those of us who read fanfiction definitely save copies - it's not much different than when an ebook goes "out of print".


message 15: by Krystal109 (last edited Jul 05, 2012 04:59PM) (new)

Krystal109 | 1081 comments Okay thanks. That makes perfect sense when you explain it that way. I guess for me my brain has issues with what "published" means. I always think, for sale.

It just sucks seeing a bunch of empty info for a fanfiction and the link no longer goes to the fanfiction.


message 16: by Banjomike (last edited Jul 06, 2012 01:08AM) (new)

Banjomike | 4669 comments A number of fanfics that I like have recently vanished along with the writers personal site but the stories themselves were copied by a number of other fans and are still available on THEIR sites. Can we relink to them? Not for all fanfic but if we see that a link to a "good" story has gone is it likely to be OK to link to such a copy?


Krystal109 | 1081 comments Good question. I would hope so, so others can enjoy the stories.


message 18: by Cait (last edited Jul 06, 2012 06:27AM) (new)

Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Banjomike wrote: "A number of fanfics that I like have recently vanished along with the writers personal site but the stories themselves were copied by a number of other fans and are still available on THEIR sites...."

I would say, only if the new site constitutes a "publication" of the work. If it's someone else's personal site making the work available, that seems analogous to linking to a bookseller's site, even though "bookseller" is an incorrect term for works not sold; if it's an impersonal site that exists for the purpose of making works generally available (AO3, ff.net, some fandom-specific archive, etc.) then that seems analogous to a publisher's site.

Krystal109 wrote: "Good question. I would hope so, so others can enjoy the stories."

Although I do want to point out that the purpose of GR is reviews; the provision of the books to new readers is secondary, as we have to keep reminding authors who want to focus on their sales.


Vicky (vnorthw) | 2421 comments If a fanfic author has taken their works offline, I feel like someone else putting a copy of it up on their website without the author's permission is akin to uploading a copy eBook for free download.

The fanfic most likely isn't subject to copywrite laws as a published novel, but unless the upload is condoned by the author I don't think I would use someone else's website as an official link.


message 20: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
A work need not be formally published to be subject to copyright; it just makes proving one's rights simpler.


Cait (tigercait) | 5005 comments Vicky wrote: "The fanfic most likely isn't subject to copywrite laws as a published novel..."

No, that's not true. A new transformative work such as fanfiction is under copyright the same as any other new work; it's just that fanfiction is more often explicitly published with permission to distribute (a la GNU or Creative Commons licenses) than other types of written works are, which is why you often find it redistributed more widely.


Krystal109 | 1081 comments If you can confirm that the author had it moved or allowed the new location to post it, it would be okay then though, right?


Jamie | 9 comments So sites like fanfiction.net is now considered self-published? Even though author expressly state that do not own the story, world, characters, etc? Just checking as the definition of self-publishing does not seem to actually match up and I am seeing more and more stories from that site and others up here.
Checking, because with all the laws on fanfiction (especially for attempted published works), I have heard of plenty original authors who go after writers who try that or who show advertise their material as original. I would hate to see that be an issue just because we declare them an official author.


message 24: by rivka, Librarian Moderator (new)

rivka | 21281 comments Mod
If an author asks us to remove a fanfic listing (or we get a takedown notice), we will.

Keep in mind that the actual fanfic won't be posted here. Authors are far more likely to get grief over the fact that they have a fic on FF.net (or elsewhere) than that they have a mention of their work here.


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