Should Authors Read Fan Fiction?

While I am an avid reader of fan fiction and also write it from time to time, I also really enjoy writing just regular old fiction. As I started to write more of my own original characters and worlds, I began to think about authors I’ve seen speak who are unable to write or read fan fiction. I have heard from many authors that their contract does not allow them to read fan fiction of any kind as well as write it.

Cassandra Clare wrote fan fiction before she was published
Cassandra Clare wrote fan fiction before she was published. She has stated in signings that she is not allowed to read fan fiction of her works.

I understand why some authors are unable to read fan fiction. Their publishers don’t want grey areas when it comes to where authors got ideas for their books. I have also heard however that many authors enjoy reading their fans’ takes on their works. It allows them to be closer to their fan base to see the relationships they like and how they perceive the characters.
So which is it? Should authors be allowed to read fan fiction of their own and other works? I mean shouldn’t we put enough trust in the authors we read to not steal ideas? On the other hand, do we need to protect these authors? Should they not be allowed to read fan fictions in case any of their original ideas are similar to those of a fan?
This is something that I think should be specific to each individual author and fan. If an author finds that reading fan fiction brings them closer to their fans then they should be the one to decided to take that chance. Fan fiction is a really great thing that brings together writers that are fans of the same works. The author should at least get the option to participate and be a part of that.
In terms of the fans, they should also get a say on whether or not the author of the original text should read their work. Many fans may send what they wrote to an author. The author doesn’t have to read it but the fan also doesn’t have to show it to them. Many websites for fan fiction require a disclaimer that states that they did not create the characters and they didn’t write the original. Couldn’t they also add a notice asking the author not to read it, should they happen upon their fan fiction?
I really think we have a lot fandoms that like the authors and creators of things to be part of what happens within them. I would like to believe there are very few fans who would point fingers at people for falsely stealing ideas and I would also really like to believe that authors won’t steal ideas from their fans.

Meg Cabot also wrote fan fiction before being published but chooses not to read fan fiction of her own works

I think it’s a shame that a lot of authors have to miss out on a huge part of the fan base and I really think authors should be able to read fan fiction by their fans if they want to. Not only would it show the fans how much the authors care but it shows the authors how much the fans really care about the characters they’ve created.
So should authors be allowed to choose if they want to read fan fictions? In my opinion, yes they should because it is a choice of both the author and the writer of the fan fiction. There are risks for both the author and refer but there are so many more positive things that could come from it.

What do you think? Should authors read fan fiction? Share your thoughts in the comments!


One thought on “Should Authors Read Fan Fiction?

  1. With the copywrite laws as they stand there would be too many gray areas that a dishonest person might find advantageous. I’m supposing that you’re talking about a series and if that’s the case the author need only to wait until the last of the series is printed and enjoy away, because consciously or subconsciously an author might just pick up an idea from somthing they read and you really wouldn’t want to be open to that kind of suspicion.

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