Fanfiction has been around since forever it seems. It’s a great way to fix mistakes in the original work, to add in more representation, to explore different routes the characters could have taken, or to simply give the characters happiness that the original always seems to keep out of reach. I also find it is a good way to practice writing while getting nice feedback.
Recently, with the rise of self-publishing, turning fanfic into books for profit is very easy. Change some names, slap a cover on it, and there is a new book out in the world. Some have even become best sellers, and turned into movies. And I have to say, for the most part, I don’t really like this.
I’m not saying this to bring down people, or because I think that fanfiction should stay fanfiction or anything. I don’t begrudge anyone any success or money they might get from doing this. My main problem is that fanfiction works because the reader has that background information, and the new book usually doesn’t make up for it.
Fanfiction doesn’t need to explain why a character is the way that they are. Everyone who reads it already knows the back story. They know the world that it is set in. None of it is needed to be expanded on. Usually when it gets turned into a book the author does not expand on that, and the book is stale. It just doesn’t work. The little inside jokes don’t translate, and any sex scenes are typically useless to any plot.
Turning fanfiction into a book can work, but it isn’t just switching names out. It would have to take more work than that. Work that people typically don’t put into it.