Yesterday, several of my writerly-feeds went nuclear after The Huffington Post reported that Abigail Gibbs was awarded a six-figure contract for her first novel. Every writer I know decried the state of writing when a newbie author would get such a deal for what was essentially (their words) “glorified fan fiction.”
First, nothing in the article leads me to believe that this is fan fiction. Though “inspired” by the Twilight series, there is nothing in the article that says she’s used characters from the series (a hallmark of fan fiction). Sure, she posted articles on Wattpad, but that doesn’t make it fan fiction, so, let’s drop that label, shall we?
Second, why are we all so shocked…shocked…that a publisher would shell out big bucks for a book that already has millions of hits on a website?
Let’s make one thing perfectly clear:
Publishers do not care about art.
Publishers care about money.
When I was just pushing my way out of the shell and into the world of Published Authors, I had this wild story running in my head. In it, publishers and editors found new authors and nurtured them, directed them, fostering their talent and building their careers. In this fairy tale, authors and editors became lifelong friends, had long heartfelt chats about the content of each book, honing each chapter and polishing the MS until it shone.
The truth is that this story, even if it ever was true, is now just as fictional as my novels.
Publishers want to make money. Editors work to ridiculously cramped deadlines. Novelists, if they’re lucky, get paid enough to starve on. But when an author has a book that’s already garnered 17 million hits in rough draft and is also poised to fill the void left by the end of an insanely successful series, that author has won the lottery, grabbed the brass ring, and is going to The Show.
In a world where Snooki gets a book deal, we should not be surprised at the sort of deal landed by Ms. Gibbs, and insofar as Ms. Gibbs can actually write, I say more power to her. That advance will pay for her Oxford education.