The continuing rise and popularity of fan fiction
Many books published today are products of fanfiction. To those from previous generations who likely have never even heard the term before, this information may be quite shocking.
For the uninitiated, the term “fanfiction” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “stories involving popular fictional characters that are written by fans and often posted on the Internet” (also known as “fanfic”).
Today, the most popular website for posting fanfiction is Archive of Our Own (AO3), a nonprofit archive for “transformative fanworks, like fanfiction, fanart, fan videos, and podfic.” Today, the website boasts over eight million published fanworks for 48,000 fandoms. A truly impressive feat.
A part of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW), AO3 seeks to preserve fanworks while also recognizing them as legitimate transformative works in their own right.
One such lucky author to see their fanwork take shape as a novel is Ali Hazelwood, author of the TikTok famous New York Times Bestseller The Love Hypothesis. Originally, the novel began as a fanfiction story based on the ship “Reylo” (Rey x Kylo Ren from the Star Wars Sequel Trilogy). An extremely popular pairing, the Reylo ship has over 27,000 works on AO3.
Hazelwood has spoken positively of her start as a fanfiction writer, often engaging with the Reylo fandom on her Twitter.
As fanworks become increasingly popular, it is likely that more will eventually take shape as novels. After all, it is common knowledge today that the popular Fifty Shades of Grey series was originally based off of the Twilight series under the title Master of the Universe.
Many may state that the rise of books based on fanfiction will create novels of poor quality. However, as proven by The Love Hypothesis’s success, this is untrue. With the adoption of fanworks as legitimate pieces of art in their own right, wonderful novels can be created that capture the attention of an audience outside of the original target audience.
With her new novel Love on the Brain set to debut in August, Hazelwood certainly isn’t losing speed as an author. There will be many more former fanfiction authors following after her.
The novel industry is always in need of new voices. Through the creative works of former fanfiction authors, new perspectives and stories can be brought in.
The arts do not ever die — they adapt to the current creative landscape. All power to fanfiction authors and the creative universes they are inspired by — one day, The Love Hypothesis may be regarded as a classic similar to the timeless appreciation for Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.