Can fanfiction make money


Fanfiction is a genre of fiction where fans use characters, settings, and scenes from popular culture in their own stories. It's been around for centuries but has gained new popularity with the advent of internet. Despite this surge in interest, many fanfiction writers often ask, "Can I make money from fanfiction?" The short answer is yes, but it's complicated. The longer answer involves navigating the murky waters of copyright laws, monetization strategies, self-publishing platforms, moral etiquette and stick-to-itiveness.

Understanding Copyright Laws

The main obstacle to making money from fanfiction is copyright law. Fanfiction works are essentially derivative and often violate copyright. Before you even think about monetizing, you need to understand what you are and aren’t allowed to do under both fair use and copyright laws. In general terms, you must have permission from the original copyright holder to make money off their work.

Can fanfiction make money

However, many creators have turned a blind eye to fanfiction, as long as it remains non-profit and beneficial for them. J.K. Rowling, for example, has been famously supportive of Harry Potter fanfiction and allowed many of them to exist online for free. However, selling these stories without permission would be illegal.

Monetization Strategies

If you’re set on earning from fanfiction and carefully negotiate copyright issues, there are several ways to monetize your work. Many fanfiction writers opt for indirect monetization strategies such as affiliate marketing, Patreon subscriptions, merchandise sales or soliciting donations.

Patreon is a site offering subscription services where content creators can generate regular income from fans who want to support their work. It's worth pointing out that Patreon revenue will depend heavily on the size and engagement level of your fan base.

Use of Self-Publishing Platforms

Self-publishing platforms like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Smashwords, or Inkitt allow writers to publish their own books, short stories, or novels. Fanfiction writers can potentially make money by publishing their own original works, using the skills they've honed through creating fanfiction.

Take E.L. James, for example, who originally published “Fifty Shades of Grey�as a fanfiction of “Twilight.�She eventually edited the work to remove all ties to “Twilight�and successfully published it as an original novel, making her a multimillionaire.

Creating an Original Story

While fanfiction relies on already established characters and world-building, one way to monetize your writing is by creating your own original story. This wouldn't technically be fanfiction anymore, but the skills you learn from writing fanfiction can transition into creating and selling your original content.

Creating your own story can also open up more avenues for making money, such as self-publishing and traditional publishing. Authors can also make money from selling film and TV rights, merchandise, and more.

Fanfiction Ethical Consideration

Besides copyright concerns, making commercial use of fanfiction can generate ethical issues. The fanfiction community is centered around the love for a common series, not a financial gain. Therefore, trying to profit off fanfiction can be seen as exploitive by some members of the community.

As a result, even if it is possible to make money from fanfiction, many fanfiction writers choose not to. Instead, they enjoy it as a creative outlet and a way to engage with others who love the same series.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where can I publish my fanfiction?

There are many platforms where fanfiction writers can publish their fanfiction, such as, Wattpad, and Archive of Our Own (AO3).

Can I make money from fanfiction on Patreon?

Yes, as long as your fanfiction does not infringe on copyright laws. Some fanfiction authors make money through Patreon by offering early access to chapters, bonus content, etc.

Is selling fanfiction illegal?

Selling fanfiction can be considered illegal if it infringes on copyright. Always ensure you have permission to use the content or it falls under fair use before selling it.


1. Kristen, R. (2017). Can You Make Money from Fan Fiction? Writer's Digest. Retrieved from

2. Anderson, S. (2018). The legal issues of fan fiction. Copyright Agency, Retrieved from

Note: This article is intended as a general guide only, and does not constitute legal advice. Always consult with a legal professional before making any decisions about publishing or commercializing fanfiction.

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