Writing a Fandom
Every writer that’s ever gotten a book published has one wish: that it will become popular. They want people to enjoy their stories. So many writers never get recognized, some never published at all. Only a few of them get read frequently, and an even smaller few become fandoms.
Jess wanted her story to become a fandom. She was writing since she was little. She’s grown a lot since then. When she was five, she wrote her first picture book. The words were spelled wrong, the pictures were awful, and only she could understand the story. She wrote more little books after that, all the same way.
But she still kept writing. And over the years, her stories got better. They became more complex and exciting. The characters had unique personalities. She learned how to describe settings in so many different ways.
Jess always knew she wanted to be a published author, but she always told herself she couldn’t yet. “You need to be an adult to publish a book,” is what she’s always heard. Then she’d put the thought aside and continue writing, each story becoming better than the next.
It took her ten years of writing to finish something she thought was good. Something she didn’t want to toss aside for some rainy day. She read the three-hundred and sixteen pages over and over, editing phrases, tossing out unneeded characters, perfecting her draft. She never stuck with a story this long before. She’d always read it once and decide it wasn’t right. It was just practice. It wasn’t “the one”.
But then Jess read her new story one last time, and realized that it didn’t need to be perfected again. Everything was in place, just as it should be. The same way a real book would be. She showed it to her family. They enjoyed it thoroughly. Her friends read it as well, and they couldn’t find a fault.
Jess began to question the phrase that had stopped her from ever considering her old drafts. “You need to be an adult to publish a book.” It played through her mind, over and over. It felt like a barrier, stopping her from achieving her dream before she came of age.
But she kept thinking about her story. Thinking about what it could be. Would people read it if it were sent out into the world? They’d be critical, surely. They would stare at every word, expecting it to jump out a certain way. They would hate it. Wouldn’t they? She wasn’t a good enough writer to be published. She was too inexperienced, too… young.
“But how do I read a book?” she thought to herself. She didn’t look at every word with distaste. She wanted things to be told the way the characters told them. She would get involved in their lives, fictional, of course, yet no less real. And her favorite types of characters were ones that she could relate to.
What if someone thought of her stories like that? She thought of all the fandoms she has ever read. People don’t only enjoy them, but embrace them as well. They do drawings. They dress up. They write fan-fictions. They make movies, video games, toys, T-shirts, all sorts of things. What if her characters became something the world embraced?
“You need to be an adult to publish a book.”
Was that really true?
She started to research. It’s very rare for authors to be published young. So many of them have finished high-school, went to college, and used their several years of experience to create something beautiful. That was something she didn’t have. But there was something she did better than anyone else. She could talk to other teenagers. Nobody can understand a teen’s mind better than another teen. Adults have experience, but adult experience. They think, talk, and do like adults. They couldn’t get through to teens the way teens could.
The way Jess could.
She proposed the idea to her parents. They agreed to let her send her story to a publisher. She started day-dreaming about it becoming a fandom. What if someone cared about her story the way she cared about other books? What if someone really enjoyed it?
The letter came almost three months later. Jess hesitated for a moment, wondering what would be inside. Her entire future could depend on what was in that letter. Then she opened it up and read.
“Dear Jessica Park.
We were pleased to receive your manuscript. Your story was very interesting. The main character showed a lot of promise, and the relationships with others were very complex.
As you know, publishing a book is an investment, for both the author and the company, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. It’s up to the author to create a piece of work put together well enough for the company to publish successfully.
Therefore, your writing should be perfected before it is submitted to our company. Thank you for contacting the Greenwood Publishing Team.”
She stared at the letter for what felt like hours. Then she simply told her family “They didn’t want it.” They tried to comfort her, but she didn’t want company. She wanted her story to become a book. A real book. Maybe everyone was right. Maybe you do have to be an adult to publish a book.
Jess’s sixteenth birthday came and went, and she hadn’t written anything since her failed publishing attempt. “Two more years,” she thought. “Then I can go to college and become a proper writer.”
One day, she was talking to one of her friends, when she suddenly asked “So what happened with that book you wrote?”
She shrugged the question off. “The publisher didn’t like it.”
“But I did,” her friend protested. “And I think a lot of other people would like it, too.”
“The publisher didn’t like it, so why should anyone else?” Jess asked.
Her friend smiled. “There are always other publishers, right? You just have to keep trying.”
That night, Jess and her parents started sending her manuscript to several publishers. She got declined several times, but didn’t give up. The phrase wasn’t a barrier anymore; it was a test. She had to prove to everyone that a kid could publish a book.
More rejections, more determination. The next year was a mess of papers, going to and from publishers across the country. On top of all this, Jess kept on writing. She would show her stories to everyone she knew, and even sent a few of them to publishers.
Then one day, she received the letter.
A publishing company, a very popular one, enjoyed Jess’s book. The first one she tried to publish. They wanted it in stores as soon as possible. She couldn’t believe her eyes. Her dream was coming true.
The process took a while. Jess wasn’t determined to rush through it. Every second of editing was worth it. She helped design a cover. She started a blog. And before she knew it, it was out there. People were reading it. She was nineteen years old by this time. And she didn’t care.
More years passed. More people started to enjoy Jess’s book. People started sending in artwork and fan-fiction. Readers were enjoying what she had to offer them. She started to publish more stories. Her first published book became a movie before she knew it. Then a video game. It took years, but it happened. She became what she always dreamed she would be. An author of a fandom.
One day, she received an email from a fan. He seemed very happy. He was inspired by Jess’s book, and decided to write one of his own. It was accepted by a publisher just a week ago. He wanted to thank her for everything she’s ever done for him. And the part that made Jess smile the most, was that the fan was only fifteen years old.