So who is the team bringing you Fanfic.me?
Jacky, Chad, Alice, Kathy – all profiles coming soon.
I “found” fanfiction for the first time in 2000. How do I remember the year? It was the year of “Kim and Kerry” on ER, and for the first time, I went online to find out more information about characters on a TV show. One of the first things I found was what I thought was an un-filmed script. It took a few days of searching and a lot of reading to find out about fanfiction. I also found two Kim and Kerry sites, and I was hooked. All my free time was spent reading K/K stories – and I started writing, too.
Flash forward to summer of 2003. I caught an article in a magazine that talked about a new show coming on the air on Showtime – The L Word. Based on my – and thousands of others – Kim/Kerry mania, this article really caught my attention. But it was in August of 2003 that my attention level was really piqued. My partner and I were in Provincetown, MA for “Carnival.” There was a FLOAT – seriously, a float! – in the Carnival parade for THE L WORD. But the show was months off.
It was December before I said to myself – a fansite would be really cool. I’d never done one before, but I knew how to make basic web pages. After all, I had an advanced degree in Instructional Technology and Distance Education, so I could at least get a basic site going, and with the help of a friend, L-word.com was online in December 2003.
The L Word premiered in January 2004, and a funny thing happened. I found myself pasting fanfiction stories onto static HTML pages and keeping a manual list of stories on another page. Talk about cumbersome! I turned to a friend of mine to write up a super quick database that would allow writers to upload their own stories – I couldn’t keep up with it!
L-word.com Fanfiction was born. We still get stories posted every day, and when the show was on the air, we had 200,000 visitors a month who viewed 10 million pages a month. What an amazing community L-word.com still is.
But that fanfic software was home grown and retrofitted a few times. By this point, Chad had joined me in working on L-word.com and then SouthofNowhereOnline.com We did everything we could with the fanfic software and site, but we wanted it to be even better – and we figured it could be used for any TV show, movie, book,cartoon, etc.
myFandoms.com came about the time that I met Alice through L-word.com. Alice gave us great input on site design and trying to make the site easier for people to navigate (she does this as her profession and was kind enough to help us out). Unfortunately, we built it on a really lousy open source platform. We spent years trying to work with the software for myFandoms.com, but there were three major problems – all the code needed to be rewritten, it was almost impossible to work with the design of the site, and we weren’t easily found because of the way the coding worked made us search engine UNfriendly.
Around the time myFandoms was struggling FanLib.com came online and partnered up with Showtime and The L Word. Our site colors on myFandoms.com showed up on FanLib.com. Our “shooting star” graphic then showed up on FanLib.com. Our “hot fandoms” category… yup… showed up on FanLib.com. And there we were, stuck with hard to work with software.
FanLib didn’t last very long, but when they shut down, they directed their site members to a few sites, including myFandoms.com One of the hardest times over the past few years was when the FanLib writers and readers tried to be patient with the myFandoms archive, but they ended up frustrated and disappointed with it.
For several years, we have just lived with myFandoms…frustrated with what it was and what it never could be, given the code it was based on. I also had constant frustration with trying to keep L-word.com updated. It was a super active site with many news updates. Finally, Chad suggested we use WordPress for our News section. Alice also had wonderful things to say about WordPress, and http://news.l-word.com was developed. It was a dream come true! Sooo easy to update stories. No HTML, no FTP-ing. And it *looked* great.
One day, I asked Chad, “Why can’t fanfic archiving be this easy and pretty?” His answer? “I can do it.” And he did.
For the past year, we’ve been looking at all the feedback on all our sites – particularly L-word.com, SouthofNowhereOnline.com, and myFandoms.com – and we’ve been building what you see here at Fanfic.me. Fanfic.me is a plugin for WordPress. It has taken a ton of development to make a proper fanfic archive for WordPress, and we’re not done – it’s not “perfect” – we know it’s missing some key features. But we’re working on it. After 8 years and now our 3rd generation of fanfic archiving, this is the one we’ve dreamed of all this time – not just where it is now, but where it is going.
Fanfic.me is easy. Its beautiful. We have so many ideas of how to improve the experience of writing and posting fanfiction. We need to finish up the fundamental features like “next post by this author,” but we also are planning on apps for Facebook and smartphones. Other than Wattpad, which isn’t even fanfic, there’s nothing out there for fanfic, and we want to fix that.
Fanfic.me is FREE. Like Fanfiction.net, we’ll pay the bills with ads. Unlike Fanfiction.net, we promise to never run one of those horrid ads that takes over your entire screen and makes you click to get your browser back. We also promise to never run one of those flashing “You won an XYZ” ads. If you ever see one on Fanfic.me, email jacky@ fanfic.me with the address of the ad so we can ban it.
We are also going to be using the Fanfic.me plugin for WordPress on Fansitepress.com. Have a look at the site I started for Terra Nova: http://terranova.fansitepress.com (I’m writing there as “TerraNova”) or Lip Service: http://lipservicefans.com. We’re offering these fansites for free, also. We’ll charge for upgrades like if you have more than 250 stories in your archive or if you want to use your own domain. If we don’t charge, we will shut down. An archive is an archive – it needs not get shut down, so we’ll charge small amounts of money to pay for bandwidth, storage, and development of new features.
We are looking for a financial partner in Fanfic.me. I know those who were burned by FanLib.com will be concerned about that. Please don’t be. Here are our thoughts: WE were totally burned with myFandoms, and we want to be able to have Chad work full time on fixes and new features, along with having help. This way, when we want to add a feature – such as community fanfic tools – it can be done quickly, not in 6 – 9 months. We also want to be able to go to conventions not just for fun :-) but to get the word out about Fanfic.me. If we do work with a financial partner, it would be someone in the entertainment field who values fan loyalty and support.
In this age of JK Rowling and Pottermore.com, we are optimistic that it’s possible to find a true partner – not just a money source. We’ve seen quite a change in the perception of fanfiction since we all started reading and writing it. Now, producers, writers, creators all seem to understand that fanfiction helps THEM. We have been working with Katherine Brooks (Loving Annabelle, The Osbornes, Face2Face), the creators of South of Nowhere and Cowgirl Up. We’ve worked with Showtime on The L Word. Having the support of networks, studios, and creators is a symbiotic relationship. As Rowling and Meyer have said fanfiction is viral ‘marketing’ of their works. Fanfic writers and readers have earned the attention and respect of “Hollywood,” so we believe we’ll be able to find a true partner to help us further develop Fanfic.me.
Some fanfic writers believe Fanfiction should never be about “business.” The reality is television, movies, books, cartoons, comics, anime…they’re business. Hosting web sites takes money. Developing software takes money. Building the tools fanfic writers want takes time and money. If you don’t build them, they leave. We know – it’s happened to us. As the Web grows, changes need to be made (Tweet your fics – plugin to Facebook). All this takes development and money. Getting the word out to fanfic writers and readers also takes money. Many of them are still posting in forums and on simple blogs with no archiving tools. We want to reach them to let them know they have a choice. Of course, many will stick with forums and blogs. We understand that. But those who are looking for a choice should know we’re here. We also want to reach writers and producers and creators who value fan support. We’ve been working with many of them already. It’s wonderful for a fandom when there’s support for fans as well as the shows.
I welcome – and invite – your feedback. I’ve loved fanfiction for 14 years and counting, and most important to me is to improve the tools for both writers and readers. I believe with Fanfic.me, we’ve got a really great archiving and display that is easy to use and wonderful on the eyes. It all comes from not only our own writing and reading, but feedback from thousands of fabulous writers. Let’s keep the feedback coming!