Friday, July 20, 2012

Guest Post by J.P. Barnaby

Transitioning from Fanfiction to Traditional Publication

Several years ago, I read the Twilight series at the behest of my young and rather insistent 16-year-old cousin. She insisted that it was better than Harry Potter and I just had to read it. It wasn’t, but I did read it. I read all four books, and found myself rather frustrated. I waited four damn books for those two to have sex, and instead got a fade-to-black. So, being a rather industrious sort, I went onto the Internet looking for other like-minded adults who might have their own perceptions of what happened on that damned island. I found them in droves on a site called 

At first, I simply read. I stuck to more canon-oriented fiction first, and then moved on to other stories. The subject matter that I found varied just as much as the authors writing it. It fascinated me. Then, I ran across a contest that a few of the authors held called the “Dirty Talking Edward” contest.  So, I figured, what the hell—I would throw my hat into the ring. I never expected to have 9 published novels just a few years later. I wasn’t an author. I was just a software developer with a dirty mind. 

I have to say, however, that I wouldn’t trade it for the world because it is an amazing ride.

The Good
I love publishing with Dreamspinner Press, though I’m soon going to start branching out with different publishers who have asked me to work with them. Readerships are usually very loyal to certain publishers, and by working with multiple publishers, you find new people to enjoy and promote your work. I love going to different publishing related events like GayRomLit (New Orleans), OutlantaCon (Atlanta), the Rainbow Bookfair (New York) and others. It’s so amazing to meet people from all over the world who enjoy the books that we write. It’s fun to meet other authors that write within the genre. We bounce ideas off each other, critique each other’s books, and promote books that we love. What I’ve found in the m/m genre is that we build each other up not try to tear each other down. I think that’s incredibly important.

The Bad
Publication is far more structured than Fanfiction. When I wrote in the fandom, I could post a chapter whenever I wanted and get immediate feedback. Working with a publisher, the process takes much longer with edits, artwork, and scheduling. As an established author with Dreamspinner, I can submit a partial book to be contracted and put into the production schedule and finish them up while it is waiting to be published. New authors wait between 6 months and a year depending on the publisher. It’s almost the definition of delayed gratification.  

The Ugly
I met some really great friends in the Twilight fandom, but in general, I had a lot of difficulties writing and interacting with some of the other authors and readers. Everyone wanted to be the next AngstGoddess003 with a million reviews and they would stomp on anyone to get there. It was messy, angry, and frightening, to be honest. AngstGoddess003 is a good friend of mine, she makes my published novel covers with the pretty boys on them. The harassment I endured didn’t reach the level that she had to put up with, but really, for a hobby—no one should have to endure any of it.

What to Expect
If you are working on a novel that is converted fanfiction, you need to make sure you mention that in your query. Be upfront about it and know that some publishers care a great deal, but some don’t care at all. If the publisher can tell, especially without you telling them, that it is fanfiction and what fandom you were writing in, you don’t have an original story. You need to make very sure that all traces of the original fiction you’re writing from have been removed, not just the names. The novel needs to be a novel, regardless of where it started in the process.

Whether you are working with converted fanfiction or not, expect backlash from the fandom. There is a group of people that “discuss” what they refer to as “P2P” or “pulled to publish” fanfiction. They continually list Little Boy Lost in their rants right alongside The Forbidden Room though Little Boy Lost isn’t converted fanfiction. Whether you find them right or wrong, expect their attention if they find out that you used to write fanfiction. You’ll be added to their list of bad people—just ignore it and focus on the people who want to read your work. 

The last thing that you need to remember when transitioning from Fanfiction to traditional publication is to grow a thick skin. People who don’t know you are going to be reviewing your work. If you’ve come from Fanfiction, they’re sometimes going to say things you don’t like. Fanfiction is often thought of as “cheating” or a “crutch” for those who can’t come up with original fiction on their own. Personally, I think it’s an excellent place to hone your skill and try out different things to see how they’re going to be accepted before you have to put together that first query letter.

The Little Boy Lost blog tour continues June 25th – July 24th . Make sure to comment at each stop for more chances to win some really great prizes such as an entire series autographed to you by J. P. Barnaby. For additional entries – tweet about the tour including @JPBarnaby and #LittleBoyLost.
Tour Schedule:


Little Boy Lost is a coming of age story about two teenage boys—Brian McAllister and Jamie Mayfield—growing up gay in rural Alabama. The six book series chronicles their lives as they navigate through peers, parents, and porn, desperately searching for the perfect combination of circumstances in which they can be together. Through their journey, they find friends, pain, acceptance, loss, and most importantly, themselves.

July 2 – July 9th, Dreamspinner Press will offer the first book in the Little Boy Lost series for free on their site ( and books 2-5 at 20% off in celebration of the release of the final book, Sacrificed.

Reviews for Little Boy Lost
This is a compulsively readable book. I sat down with it the other day, intending just to skim it for this re-review, but within a few pages I was pulled completely into the story just like I was last year. Brian and Jamie are wonderful characters, beautifully drawn and realized. They experience the wonder and excitement of their first love, going through each step: a touch, a kiss, an embrace, and more. At the same time, they are terrified of what might happen to them should anyone find out about their relationship. They live in a very small town in Alabama where faggot jokes and homophobia are the norm. How do they reconcile their feelings for each other with the reality of the time and place in which they are living? – JesseWave

What this author does in ABANDONED is just amazing, it is a pure and honest kind of writing that bares the soul of a seventeen, going on eighteen year old. It offers the worst of circumstances in which various forms of love can ignite, nourish and inspire Brian on his journey. I never expected to experience such a strong connection to the person Brian is. I’m still amazed by it and savoring it every chance I get. ABADONED blew me away as J.P. Barnaby continues the story of memorable characters who just go for your heart. This is just about as good as it gets in the M/M genre! – Leontine’s Book Realm


About J. P. Barnaby

As a bisexual woman, J.P. is a proud member of the GLBT community both online and in her small town on the outskirts of Chicago. A member of Mensa, she is described as brilliant but troubled, sweet but introverted, and talented but deviant. She spends her days writing software and her nights writing erotica, which is, of course, far more interesting. The spare time that she carves out between her career and her novels is spent reading about the concept of love, which, like some of her characters, she has never quite figured out for herself.



RANDYW said...

Great blog post! I love fanfiction also.


J. P. Barnaby said...

Hi Randy! I like reading Harry Potter Fanfiction too - Sirius and Remus.

Connie said...

Thank you for stoping by JP :)

Anonymous said...

I've always been a slasher, even before I knew about fanfic. I'd go to a concert, watch the interactions among the band members, and figure every sidelong smirk or glare meant they were in love. And I know one of the reasons I love hockey so much is because it looks like nonstop homoerotic intrigue...


Shadow Sterling said...

J.P. it is always so fascinating to hear about your process and how you started. You give very practical and might I add, valuable advice to people looking to enter your field.

As to the ugliness that can also occur unfortunately every subject will have a critic. I remember a friend telling me of the shouting matches that use to go on at their mouse and hamster conventions. Yes between the people not the rodents! ;-)

Thank you for taking the time to write all of these wonderful posts.

J. P. Barnaby said...

Hi Connie! Thank you for coming to read the post.

Vita: LOL I've never watched hockey, but but I'll keep that in mind when I'm out watching sports.

Shadow: Those rodent conventions can get totally out of hand! I'm actually kind of sorry to see the tour end as much work as it's been, it's also been amazing to connect with all of you.

Archie said...

I found you in fanfiction and have been following you ever since, without reservation.
It has always amazed me that people can be incredibly hypercritical. I'm glad that you toughed through it and came out on the stronger end.

I have to say, AngstGoddess003 wrote the very first fanfiction I read and I haven't looked back. So I find it very cool that two of my favorite (and incredible) authors are friends as well.
I'm such a fangirl! *squee*