The short of it is that I'm a relatively popular fanfic author looking to focus my efforts solely on original works, and I don't know whether it's a good idea to use my existing fanbase as a jumping off point, or if it's a supremely terrible idea.
Yeah yeah.. I know fanfiction is an inflammatory topic. I'm not really here to debate the merits of it, but personally, in the realm of fic, I've seen the lowest of garbage writing all the way up to god tier writing better than award-winning fiction I've bought from bookstores. But, people who don't read or write fanfic tend to have this extremely narrow and negative connotation of what it is (they tend to assume it's all sexual, for starters, when it's not) and it's pretty much social suicide to admit you read it, let alone WRITE it. For me, it's taught me more about writing than college did, and that's a fact. I'm working on a few original novels and other various projects right now because I finally have the time and motivation to do so, but here is the dilemma:
Do I utilize my existing fanbase or do I disconnect from my fic career and start over?
Pros: Fresh start, no embarrassing old and badly written stories to be dug up, no negative connotations associated with me for potential new readers.
Cons: Rebuilding an audience completely from scratch. I'm back at square one. Obviously this is doable but.. it's not ideal when I have readers who are (supposedly) dying to read original books from me.
Pros: I know some loyal readers that will buy my first book without hesitation. Which is a really good feeling. Very tempting. There's even more that will probably buy it, and then there's the thousands more I've come into contact with over the last few years that are amorphous maybes. I couldn't know for sure they'd buy it, and I'm sure most wouldn't, but I do know they've read and liked my writing, and if they're following my socials then isn't that a GREAT place to advertise? It's a huge starting advantage in a game where everyone starts off at the bottom.
Cons: My fanfic career is permanently connected to my professional career. There's not really any hope of keeping them separate if I go this route, and that's kind of a yikes for me. A pseudonym wouldn't help because there's no way I won't tell my friends and family I've published, and then it's just a matter of time before everyone finds my fan stuff haha. There's just no way I could keep it all separate. I guess the main issue for me is the stigma. I think my writing is good and I'm proud of it and I take it extremely seriously. I couldn't deal with being mocked, and I'd certainly be devasted if this negatively affected a potential writing career.
Any thoughts on this? I'd appreciate just talking about it in general, as it's plagued me for a long time. Most people who write fic just do it for fun, but I have a few author friends who write fic but are also aiming to publish their own stuff someday, and we all share this exact same dilemma. I think it must be the fic author's curse. Unfortunately I've reached the point where I can't ignore the dilemma anymore because I've stopped writing fanfic and am focusing 100% on my own stuff, so I kinda need to figure out whether I should be continuing my social media presence and keeping my fans interested in what I'm up to.
Any advice appreciated 🙂