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TitaniumDragon comments on Three Worlds Collide (0/8) - Less Wrong

48 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 30 January 2009 12:07PM

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Comment author: TitaniumDragon 16 April 2013 08:05:22PM 3 points [-]

Fanfiction inherently limits the number of people who will ever look at it; an independent work stands on its own merits, but a fanfiction stands on both its own merits and the merits of the continuity to which it is attached. Write the best fanfic ever about Harry Potter, and most people still will never read it because your audience is restricted to Harry Potter fans who read fanfiction - a doubly restricted group.

While it is undeniable that it can act to promote your material, you are forever constrained in audience size by the above factors, as well as the composition of said audience by said people who consume fanfiction of fandom X.

Comment author: ygert 16 April 2013 08:34:58PM *  7 points [-]

Write an original work, and unless you are both very lucky and very good, the number of people who see it is more or less zero.

If you write an original work, then I am very sorry, but I probably will not read it. There is a barrier to diving into a new world, a trivial inconvenience, but nonetheless, a cost to high for the expected return, which by Sturgeon's Law is near zero. On the other hand, in fanfiction I already know the world, and that makes it easier to jump in.

Yes, for fanfiction there is an upper bound to the readership numbers, but in practice, that isn't what you should be worrying about when trying to get people to read your work. The hard part is separating yourself out from the Sturgeon's Law chaff surrounding you, and that is an easier task if your work is a work of fanfiction.

Comment author: Vaniver 16 April 2013 08:34:59PM 5 points [-]

Fanfiction inherently limits the number of people who will ever look at it; ... it is undeniable that it can act to promote your material

The second factor is much more important for most authors for most stories. I read a lot of fanfiction by people whose original works I never would have found, because their original works aren't stored in a fanfiction repository. It's like how you could go to DeviantArt and look at people's original works, but you're much more likely to come across drawings they've done of things you're both fans of.

Worrying that you are forever constrained in audience size seems odd; most people never read most stories. The question is how many you can get to read it, and when.

Comment author: wedrifid 16 April 2013 10:59:43PM 3 points [-]

Worrying that you are forever constrained in audience size seems odd; most people never read most stories.

Using another rationalist fanfic as an illustration I've read Luminosity, but never twilight.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 17 April 2013 02:21:06AM 7 points [-]

I agree that fanfic has a lower ceiling than original work. But it isn't necessarily better to raise my ceiling than to raise my average.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 April 2013 03:30:49AM 6 points [-]

There's quite a number of HPMOR readers who've never read HP. Admittedly this may be a special case, and it's not HPMOR's original intended optimal use-case either (reading Philosopher's Stone first is a good idea if you can).

Comment author: shminux 17 April 2013 05:25:23AM *  2 points [-]

I tried the original after HPMOR, and it reads like mediocre fanfic :) Harry is just all wrong...

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 April 2013 01:44:47PM -1 points [-]

I was a lifelong HP fan before reading HPMOR - and I would almost certainly never have read it if it wasn't HP fanfiction. (Or popular on TVtropes, but that's another matter.)

Comment author: MugaSofer 17 April 2013 01:45:53PM 0 points [-]

Write the best fanfic ever about Harry Potter, and most people still will never read it because your audience is restricted to Harry Potter fans who read fanfiction - a doubly restricted group.

Woah, I never though of it like that before.

We should be writing crossovers!

Comment author: TitaniumDragon 17 April 2013 11:25:51PM 3 points [-]

What have I done? ; ;

Comment author: MugaSofer 19 April 2013 01:09:28PM 0 points [-]
Comment author: gwern 18 April 2013 04:12:00AM 1 point [-]

We should be writing crossovers!

I thought crossovers only appeal to fans of both works, and hence that works the opposite of the way you thought it would?

Comment author: MugaSofer 19 April 2013 12:51:42PM -1 points [-]

Huh. Now that you mention it, maybe they do. I've certainly read crossovers of series I don't read, but...