Depending on your point of view, you can either thank or blame E.L. James for the latest example of laziness in the publishing industry: Penguin’s YA imprint has decided to publish a One Direction fanfic as an original novel. One of their editors spotted the story Loving the Band by sixteen-year-old student Emily Baker on a writing site called Movellas, and snatched it up. Presumably it’ll be repackaged with five new (but still quirky) names and sold as an ebook starting November 1st.
Penguin seems to be patting themselves on the back, but I’m just rolling my eyes at their official statement:
“Penguin had been looking to commission a writer to pen a romantic YA fictional novel that tapped into the current obsession with boy bands. Emily proved to be just the right kind of new talent to write such a novel with powerful emotion and authority and world rights were duly acquired from movellas.com.”
OK, I agree that Emily had a built-in following and had proven herself as tapping into her peers’ love for boy bands, since Loving the Band was listed as the most popular story on Movellas and had over 30,000 Directioners asking for more. But I’m going to beat a dead horse and go back to my same argument on all of these fanfic-to-book situations: Why not have Emily write an entirely new novel instead of riding the automatic context of it being about 1D? As I understand it, the definition of “commission” is to request a new work based on pre-existing talent. Plus, it’s just so calculated. They’re looking at the number of likes or reblogs and deciding, Yes, this will translate to ebook sales.
Of course, I mean no offense to the Directioners who will pay to read Loving the Band, or to Emily herself. In fact, her statement is the one part of this story that makes me smile:
“I wrote my original novel on Movellas at the time that I was taking my GCSEs, so I had to balance my studies with writing. It was hard work, but it all paid off when everybody on Movellas was so supportive of what I was doing, which just urged me to continue writing chapter after chapter. That book then inspired me to write Loving the Band.”
See, that’s what fanfiction should be about—writers encouraging their peers to explore these worlds and characters (fictional and otherwise) when in their normal lives they may not feel confident enough to write something. But I worry that as these instances of fanfics getting “commissioned” as “original” novels stack up, people will look at fanfiction as a way to make a quick buck rather than how it was originally intended.
Interestingly, I can’t seem to find Loving the Band online, which could be because Penguin had Emily yank it from the site now that she’s making a profit off it; or it could just be that Movellas is difficult to navigate. All we know about the book is that it follows a girl who meets her favorite fivesome, only to have two of them fall in love with her. (Which two, I have no idea, but I’m willing to bet one is Harry Styles.) With that in mind, could Directioners weigh in and let me know what your thoughts are on this? I haven’t found any conversation on Tumblr or other online platforms, and I’d love to know if you would buy the book or not!
.gif: cuddlyhoranhugs on Tumblr