What is FanLit?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 09 October 2019
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Fan Literature, sometimes called Fan Lit or FanLit, is a genre of writing. FanLit can take numerous forms. Often FanLit is an extension of a popular book or series written by fans who desire more background to the story. FanLit is sometimes sexually explicit, and is identified as “slash fiction” in this instance, in reference to the character/character involved in the story. FanLit also refers to a writing contest held by Avon Romance in 2006 in which fans collaborated to write a romance novel.

With the rise of the Internet, FanLit has become much more widespread. Numerous organizations including the American Library Association have recognized the contribution that FanLit has made to literature. Fans of books ranging from the Harry Potter series to the Lord of the Rings trilogy can access and write FanLit at a variety of websites. Members of FanLit communities tend to form a close network of supportive individuals who provide constructive criticism and other types of assistance.


Starting on 23 August 2006, Avon Romance teamed with Harper Collins and Fox Television to sponsor FanLit, a contest in which romance fans would write an online novel one chapter at a time. Prizes were awarded to fans who wrote successful chapters, as well as random participants. FanLit was designed to be highly competitive, with Avon Romance stressing that authors would need to sell themselves and their chapters in order to win. This reflects the competitive world of professional romance novel writing, which involves a lot of effort on the part of individual authors to sell their work.

The contest began with voting to select a story concept. Ideas for the story were provided by professional romance authors and editors, and early registrants picked the premise they felt would be most appealing. After that, a story line was developed to help guide contestants. Each week, the synopsis of a chapter was posted. FanLit contestants were required to cover all the material suggested in the synopsis for their submissions to be counted. Other contestants and readers voted on the chapters, with the chapter that won the most number of votes being accepted.

On 27 October, the contest closed and the book was deemed to be complete. The randomly chosen grand prize winner was able to spend a day at the Avon publishing house, learning about how books are published and promoted. A winner selected by the team of judges received a development deal with Fox Television. The book, Wicked Games, was published as an e-book which included the six winning chapters along with profiles of the authors.

Several other writing competitions have been modeled after FanLit, including a Teen FanLit at Harper Collins. The contest was viewed as a successful promotion by the authors and publishing house, and stock in the company rose significantly as the contest progressed. FanLit is an excellent way for unknown authors to put themselves forward, and for fans to cooperate on a fun and engaging project.


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