The 6 Largest Publishers In The Market Today

Books are one item that never goes out of fashion. While half of all books sales have now transitioned to online formats, the sale of stories remains as strong as ever. For those thinking about becoming writers or for existing writers who are focusing on getting published, this is cause for celebration. Thankfully, with so many options available, getting published is easier than ever. Worldwide the publishing industry is worth close to 150 billion USD between them. If you are thinking about getting your book into print, our list of the 6 largest publishing companies in the industry today will come in handy.


Pearson, whose headquarters is located in London, England, is the biggest publishing house in the world. They handle most of the publishing for corporations, schools, and students and serve over 70 countries in the world. They are behind the majority of educational printing and makes up about 6.4 billion USD of the total market. They have been around since 1844 which is one of the reasons they are able to capture so much of the market share across the globe.

Barnes and Noble Press Self-publishing

Barnes & Noble Press, which used to be known as NOOK Press, is one of the largest publishers available for self-published authors. Although they have tough competition from Amazon, the fact that it is linked to an actual bookstore allows it to maintain its market share, despite the competition. The interface is easy to use and unlike some brick and mortar publishing houses, authors have the freedom to publish across multiple platforms with no exclusions.


RELX is another British publishing house that serves just over 180 nations. It is mainly focused on the publishing of medical, technical, legal, and scientific materials but considering it is the second-largest publisher in the world, it prints a lot. The name may not be familiar because it was actually was created from a merger between Reed International and Elsevier, who were both mid-level publishers in their own rights.

Amazon KDP Self-publishing

There would be no list of big publishers without Amazon making the cut. In fact, Amazon accounts for three-quarters of all eBook sales in the US and is the biggest purveyor of digital books in the entire world. Kindle Direct Publishing and Amazon Publishing are separate entities, however, as a whole, they have made their mark on the publishing world and are still going strong. Kindle Direct Publishing is ideal for those looking to self publish while Amazon Publishing works just like any other brick and mortar publishing house.

Thomson Reuters

Thomson Reuters is one of the more well-known publishing houses in the world even though it’s only the third largest of traditional publishers. This publishing house was founded in 2008 in Toronto, Ontario, and accounts for 5 billion of the annual publishing income worldwide. They are known for their branded sponsorships, investments, and more. They print a wide assortment of books ranging from children’s books to legal tomes the world over. For being such a young company, they have managed to amass a large following that has given them a huge market share.

Apple Books Self-publishing

Apple is known for a lot of things, but its publishing is not one of them. However, they opened a self-publishing platform in 2010, and just two years after that boasted a library of over 400 million books available for download. It can be hard to monetize a book on the platform, but that has not stopped anyone from using Apple to publish. The fact that there is no fee to publish is one of the many reasons the platform has been able to draw so many authors. Keep in mind there are a lot more publishing houses out there to chose from, and we have only covered the top six in the world in our post today. If you have dreams of becoming a published author, be sure to check out our vast resources available here.

​​What Expenses Are Deductible When You Work From Home?

​​What Expenses Are Deductible When You Work From Home?


Many people who work full time in an office dream of working from home. Working from home has been associated with being flexible and relaxing compared to physically going to the office. Unfortunately, since the pandemic, the dream turned into a reality for almost 43% of the workforce in the United States. Consequently, employees need to understand some of the expenses that are deductible when they work from home. Below are some of the costs that are deductible when you work from home. 


  1. Rent or mortgage payments

This is one of the expenses that are deductible when you are working from home. Remote workers can claim a home office deduction instead of itemizing each expense. However, you need to be sure that the office is used solely for business purposes and not for any other reason. 


The only way you can ensure that you achieve this is to store all the receipts of all deductions safely. When the home is used solely for business purposes, you may deduct a portion of the expenses related to your home, such as homeowners insurance and mortgage interest, among others. 


In other words, a home office expense is a deduction that is allowed only if the home office meets at least one of any of the criteria below: 

  • The home office is the place where the business takes place. 
  • The home office is where the business owners meet with clients and customers as any other typical business day. 
  • Where business is conducted is a separate structure from the property and is not attached to the house. 


  1. Automobile expenses

Automobile expenses are another expense that is deductible when you are working from home. This applies if you have to drive a car for business occasionally. Any automobile mileage related to the company is tax-deductible, except for commuting to and from the place of work. As long as the travel is made solely for business purposes, it is considered a business expense. The mileage deduction is calculated using two different approaches that are allowed by the IRS. Unfortunately, car insurance is only deductible for a small selection of individuals.


  1. Entertainment and travel expenses

Travel and entertainment costs are only deductible if they are directly related to the business or associated. In other words, if the company took place during entertainment or business was immediately discussed before or after entertainment, then the deduction applies. Any business-related travel is fully deductible.  


  1. Health insurance

Even though you are working from home, you are still an employee who is on the payroll. Health insurance benefits that are provided to employees are considered as tax-deductible. However, those who are self-employed can deduct a portion of their income for health insurance. 


  1. Business expenses

Working from home means that you are still conducting business-related functions. The only difference is that you are not physically at your place of work. There are some everyday expenses for running a business for which you can take a deduction. They include employee benefits, legal and professional services, advertising, office supplies, rents, wages, and other operations conducted at home. 


  1. Travel expenses

You can make deductions of ordinary and necessary travel expenses that you incur while traveling on business. You should keep your records checked and updated such that the amount for each item, such as lodging, meals, and transportation, are included. Keep track of the date of departure and return for each trip that you take, and the number of days spent on the trip, and any other information that may be useful. While traveling for business, your laundry and cleaning expenses should also be kept well because they are deductible. 


  1. Equipment purchases

When working from home, you should communicate with your employer to give you some equipment to work effectively from home. However, suppose this is not provided, and you buy equipment for the business. In that case, you can deduct a portion of the equipment cost in the year in which equipment was placed in service. Also, you need to check with your tax professional to check the limit for the current year. 


  1. Maintenance and repair work

As long as you incur costs for maintenance and repair of any office equipment, it is deductible. This is the cost you incur in bringing back an asset to its original condition or the price incurred in keeping an asset operating effectively at its present condition. So, for example, assuming that you are working from home and using an office laptop. Then the computer breaks down when using it, and you take it for repair, then that expense is deductible. 


  1. Delivery expenses

Suppose the company deals with a variety of products. In that case, delivery expenses are incurred in getting a product from the company to the customer’s hands. This includes gas and oil costs and other transportation costs that are incurred in the process. 


  1. Self-education expenses

You can also claim a deduction for self-education only if the teaching of the study you are undertaking relates to your current employment activities. The course must be connected to your everyday employment activities to either;

  • Maintain or improve a specific skill that is necessary for your current line of work.
  • Is likely to result in an increment in your income.


It is only under the above scenarios that you can claim your self-education expense. If your course is not related to your current employment activities, you cannot claim it.  

In summary, working from home is very effective and convenient for many people. This is mainly because of how flexible it is. All of the above are some of the expenses that are deductible when you are working from home. Therefore, you need to be aware of what to claim and what not to claim. 

Rose Rosie is a writer for the personal finance website, Joy Wallet, which provides readers with useful information, resources, and tools to help maximize their financial fitness.


Want to Try Out Some Creative Writing Exercises?

There comes a time in every writer’s life that they will have writer’s block. They will not be able to find anything to write about. Creative writing exercises are perfect to do to help writers find what they can write about, whether it’s a news article or book, for instance. It is better to do creative writing exercises, instead of sitting, staring at the computer with your pen or pencil in your hand. Writers will find these exercises are quite enjoyable when done for a few minutes or hours. It just depends on what mood the writer is in.

One creative exercise writers can do are writing prompts. It allows the writer to use his or her imagination. Writing prompts can make the writer write for a long period of time, especially if it’s something they enjoy talking about. One idea is talking about a dream or nightmare the writer had the night before. This could end up being the writer’s next book. When writing prompts, try to remember site, people’s faces, what each person were doing, and so forth. On the other hand, if your dream was scary, such as dreaming of zombies attacking you, you may not want to write about it, unless you just want to have a laugh while writing about it.

Consider writing or doing a video recording of yourself when you were younger. Pick an age that you would like to communicate with yourself. It is anything you want it to be.  It does not matter if it’s bad or good. It does not matter. It may get emotional for the writer, but at the same time, you will have inspiration to write about it, if you wish. Write or talk about things that were important or affected you. This could be an inspiration for your next story.

The alphabet exercise is a fun creative exercise to do. The idea of the alphabet exercise is to use each letter of the alphabet in a sentence. This will be a difficult, but fun exercise to do. Use all the resources that are available to you, such as online dictionaries. The idea of the alphabet exercise is to create a story with each alphabet letter as the first word of each sentence. It does not matter if the story sounds strange. It’s all about having fun and thinking outside of the box.

Another creative writing exercise is writing about a scene. Find a site, whether it is where you are at the moment or another site, but it is best to write on a site on where you are at the moment.  Write a few sentences on your surroundings. What do you see? What is the atmosphere like? The idea of this creative writing exercise is for you to begin a story. Writers shock themselves on how much writing they can do with just their surroundings. Once you have the scene in place, you can add characters.

Character exercises are another good creative writing exercise to complete. In order to complete the exercise, writers will need to come up with a name. The name doesn’t matter. It’s anything he or she wants. Writers who cannot think of a name, should make use of the Internet where they can find loads of names. Once you come up with a name, think of that person’s character, such as what is their personality like. Do they have a family? Are they single? What kind of job do they have? Write about anything that comes to mind. This could be a character to use for your next story.

Think of a story that you remember someone telling you. Even if you remember bits and pieces of the story, write it anyways. While writing, you can add to it make it more interesting. You may remember some other things that were left off in the story that you heard. If you get stuck, try reading some creative writing examples for inspiration. Who knows what will bring the spark?



Finding creative writing contests

Creative writing contests are a great way to improve your creative writing skills. They can help you grow as a creative writer or writer in general by testing your creativity and imagination. There are many writing contests both online and offline. Let’s have a look at the right way of finding creative writing contests that are suitable for you!

A number of these creative writing contests give incentives to the winners ranging from cash rewards to grants and awards.

Before you go on a hunt, here are a couple of things you should know first:

  • Creative writing contests do more than just test your writing caliber. They also test how you measure up with other writers in the category – which might be something you need to prepare for beforehand by reading more than you write.
  • You might be given the task of writing a short story, essay, poetry, script, etc. depending on which creative writing contest you choose – but they are almost always looking for fresh ideas and an original voice. If you write anything even remotely redundant or unoriginal then it’s a point taken from you.

With those tips out of the way, let’s now have a look at the right way of finding creative writing contests that are right for you!

Free contests

There are quite a few respected and reliable writing contests without any entry fees. All you need to do is do a Google search. Most of these contests work in a way where you have to send a copy of your work postmarked within the deadline.

Contests exist for both types of writers – amateurs and published ones.

For example, here are two contests:

  1. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest is great for amateur writers.
  • Short stories or novelettes that are up to 17,000 words.
  • Genres: fantasy or science fiction.
  • Prizes: $1000, $750, $500 plus an annual grand prize of $5000.
  • Deadlines for submissions are March 31, June 30, and September 30.

On the other hand, only those are eligible for the Drue Heinz Literature Prize who have published a book-length novel with a reputable publisher or have at least three short stories or novellas in journals that are recognized nationally.

  • 150-300 pages of a manuscript, short stories, or two or more novellas.
  • Genre: short fiction.
  • Prize: $15,000 and publication through the University of Pittsburgh Press.
  • The deadline for submissions is May 1 through June 30 annually.

Needless to say, the competition is pretty high in these contests. But look on the bright side. Even if you don’t make it, it can be a great way to improve and see where you stand. Do check the previous winners. There are dozens of free contests that can ignite a fresh, creative writing spark in you.

Paid writing contests

Then there are some writing contests that have an entry fee. The entry fees are usually minimal within the range of $10-20 in most cases, and the prizes, if you happen to win, more than make up for that initial expense.

For example, the SiWC Writing Contest has a first prize of $1000 plus publication. Honorable mentions get $150. The entry fee is $15 and the criterion is to send 2500-4000 words long unpublished short stories.

Another great example is the Great American Fiction Contest with a similar prize and up to five runners-up that get $200 each. The entry fee is $10 and the criterion is to submit 1500 to 5000 words long short stories in any genre as long as it revolves around The Saturday Evening Post’s mission statement of “Celebrating America – Past, Present, and Future”.


What’s the Appeal of “Dangerous Heroes” in Paranormal Romance?

Spend just a few minutes browsing through Goodreads reviews of paranormal romance books and you’ll discover a polarizing debate taking place. But the issue at hand isn’t vampires vs. werewolves, urban vs. traditional fantasy, or Twilight vs. True Blood — although  I’m certain you could find those battles being fervently waged in other forums)


Rather, it’s the trope of dangerous heroes — and whether, essentially, they are good or bad.

What is a “dangerous hero”?

“Dangerous heroes,” also known as “bad boy heroes,” are suitors in romance novels who have a bit of an edge to them — the opposite of a wholesome, Hallmark-worthy romantic hero. To put it euphemistically, they tend to behave very badly.


To put it less euphemistically, they’re often violent, controlling, temperamental, unpredictable, and even outright abusive. They’ve usually been through some kind of trauma that “justifies” this behavior: a rough childhood, the death of someone close to them, the betrayal of a friend, the infidelity of a previous partner. Bonus points if they feel responsible for this trauma, whether for a good reason (i.e. they actually caused it) or not.


Sometimes dangerous heroes evolve into more stable and respectful men over the course of the story. But most of the time they don’t. Even if the former is the case, the behavior has already been normalized over the course of the narrative, so readers have become desensitized to it.


Obviously, this isn’t a healthy depiction of romance or behavior as a whole, and I personally don’t feel comfortable reading romance books that engage with this trope at all. Which doesn’t mean I’m uncomfortable with the main couple clashing! I love spirited arguments, opposites attracting, and enemies-to-lovers arcs. But I draw the line at abuse. And according to the Goodreads debates, many other readers seem to agree with me. 


That said, the “dangerous hero” trope is so prevalent that it’s difficult to claim it’s a fringe fetish. This trope is present in every single subgenre of romance from historical to contemporary, and is especially popular in the world of self-published ebooks. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find a mass-producing romance ebook author who hasn’t at least dabbled in “spicy bad boys” (yikes) or “dom daddies” (double yikes).


Clearly, plenty of fans have an appetite for this trope — and it’s perhaps most pervasive in paranormal romance, or PNR. I will spend the rest of this article dissecting what separates a dangerous hero in PNR from the rest of the pack, and unpacking the possible reasons why readers are so enthralled.

Who are the “bad boys” of PNR?

First, let’s meet some of the most notorious offenders of this trope in paranormal romance. Some of these I’ve read myself, but even I had no idea how deep this conspiracy went until I discovered the (hopefully tongue-in-cheekily named) Dangerous Heroes Addict Support Group. Here are just a few examples of the “bad boys” that the group and I have encountered in PNR:


  • Wrath II (his actual name), the vampire protagonist of J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger series
  • Kaleb Krychek, a “Dual Cardinal” with psychic powers in the Psy-Changeling series by Nalini Singh
  • V’lane AND Jericho Barrons (that’s right — it’s a bad-boy love triangle) in the fae-based Bloodfever series by Karen Marie Moning
  • Lothaire, a half-mad and highly volatile vampire who falls for a young woman in Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series
  • Maddox, who’s possessed by an ancient demon of violence (you can’t make this stuff up) in Lords of the Underworld by Gena Showalter


Most of these “heroes” have distinct features in common. They are all distinguished for their special talents, even among their kind; for example, Kaleb is the most powerful Psy in known existence, as he has both telepathic and telekinetic abilities. Maddox embodies the most violent creature in all realms of heaven and earth. Wrath II is the only purebred vampire left in his world, and leader of the Black Dagger Brotherhood.


Indeed, these heroes also tend to hold high-level positions of power and privilege, just like the “bad boys” of non-paranormal romances (think Christian Grey). And if they’re not already in power, they’re after it — for instance, Lothaire is a half-prince cast out of his kingdom who has sworn a) revenge and b) to reclaim the throne. But in order to do so, he needs the help of a low-class mortal woman.


Which leads into the final critical component and shared feature of all these books: the heroine. She is, almost without exception, human; perhaps she’s been possessed by a malevolent force or is being “indoctrinated” into supernatural society before making a full transition, but she pretty much always starts off weak, innocent, and mortal. (That’s Twilight’s influence for you.) 


Again, our heroes are supremely powerful in both the traditional AND paranormal sense — arguably the most powerful entities in their respective universes. Even a relationship with your average vampire or lady-demon would already be seriously imbalanced. So when these “bad boys” (understatement of the century) end up seducing humans, their relationships inevitably take on an incredibly unhealthy dynamic.


Problematic, no? Especially when these guys exacerbate the disparity by treating their ladies so terribly — sometimes literally torturing them. Truth be told, your average “dangerous” PNR relationship is about as appropriate and morally acceptable as a CEO with a child bride.


But nonetheless, actual human readers eat this stuff up, as evidenced by the flourishing fanbase and Amazon best sellers list. Let’s look at a few possible reasons behind the supernatural bad boy obsession.

Why readers love them: 3 theories

1. Escapism

If reading fiction is a form of escapism, then fantasy is an even more heightened version, and paranormal romance is basically escapism on crack. Many romance readers who are bored, frustrated, or simply wish to forget about their regular lives (and possibly lackluster love lives) needn’t look any further than PNR shelves for the perfect title.


So how does this tie into the dangerous hero phenomenon? Well, nothing is more implausible than a functional and satisfying relationship between a dangerous immortal god and a mortal woman — and the more implausible something seems, the better a distraction it is. All mental energy that would normally go toward quotidian concerns is redirected into “WTF?! How is this possible? What’s going on? Oh my god, here comes another crazy thing!” (This is pretty much the plot of Lothaire.) And sometimes, that’s all people want out of a book.


On a more specific note, the more powerful the hero, the more exciting the relationship is for the heroine… even if it’s also very unhealthy. And since all these human heroines are potential self-inserts for readers, it’s easy for “dangerous hero addicts” to step into their shoes and get swept up in the story. Of course, since they’re just reading about it and not experiencing it, they get the best of both worlds: all the titillation and none of the abuse. (I’m pretty sure this is why dangerous heroes are so much more prominent in books than TV and film — because the more “real” the problem is, the more upsetting it becomes for the consumer.)

2. Societal brainwashing

It’s also possible that readers don’t realize quite how problematic these stories are when they immerse themselves in them. Obviously, the more abusive male behavior one reads about, the more one becomes numb to that behavior — but it’s something that we see constantly in real life as well.


#MeToo has exposed some of the biggest figures in Western politics and entertainment as abusers. And while a few have been persecuted or prosecuted for their actions, many have slipped quietly back under the radar after a scandalous headline or two, with people making excuses (“Oh, he could be a lot worse”) before forgetting about the issue entirely.


Again, it’s similar to the visceral violence of TV/film: out of sight, out of mind. Unless people personally witness something inappropriate (or, you know, illegal), they don’t really have to consider the implications of it. This same mindset contributes to the normalization and glorification of such behaviors in fiction.


I realize that this “brainwashing” may be less of a contributing cause than the desire for escapism — and indeed, I hope it is. I want to believe that readers are smart enough not to just consume these romances without any critical thought. So what’s the happy medium between thinking too much and too little? Probably thinking that… 

3. It’s all in good fun

Some readers may not be seeking to escape or succumbing to unfortunate normalization —  rather, they’re reading these books simply because they like them, cruel suitors and all. The fourth wall is alive and strong in fiction. At the end of the day, all this stuff is made up — and the presence of sorcery and the supernatural in the PNR subgenre emphasizes that further.


Occam’s razor posits that the simplest answer is usually the right one. Consequently, I’m inclined to think that this is the most compelling argument for why readers seem to love “bad boy” heroes so much, especially in PNR. 


So what’s the big deal, if this is the case? As we’ve seen time and time again, just because something is problematic doesn’t mean it’s impossible to enjoy. If the thing in question is fictional, shouldn’t we just leave it alone?

Depends on how you look at it

Though I’m sure you can tell my opinion by now, I didn’t write this post to universally decry dangerous heroes/bad boys in PNR, but to examine them. Far be it from me to dictate taste, especially since (as a lover of most romance tropes) I certainly have my own guilty pleasures. But I do urge other readers to think about the pros and cons of this particular trope.


  • It’s exhilarating to read about forbidden love, and “dangerous supernatural hero/human heroine” is perhaps the most forbidden of all.
  • The hero sometimes experiences a growth arc over the course of the narrative and isn’t nearly as much of a “bad boy” by the end. Likewise, the human heroine is sometimes transformed into a supernatural creature, which lessens the power imbalance.
  • Occurrence in paranormal romance is somewhat preferable to other subgenres, because the accompanying supernatural elements help demonstrate how unrealistic the situation is as a whole. That said…


  • Impressionable young readers may get inaccurate ideas about what constitutes a healthy relationship, potentially causing a genuine threat in future relationships.
  • It’s a huge negative trigger for readers who have actually been in abusive relationships, and insulting/offensive to imply such a relationship desirable in any way, even in these alternate worlds.
  • For the rest of us, knowing it’s fictional doesn’t necessarily make it less uncomfortable.


I realize that paranormal romance books won’t stop having these kinds of relationships in them, and other subgenres of romance aren’t likely to shy away, either — not least because they sell. But a girl can dream, and it’s my dream that romance authors will someday get abreast of more interesting (and ideally more balanced) relationship dynamics.

Until then, I suppose readers have made their beds and are happy to lie in them. But still, maybe don’t get in bed with a violence demon. I feel like that’s just common sense.

Can (and Should) You Self-Publish Your Ebook Anonymously?

You’ve just penned your first sci-fi, and you’d be thrilled to share it with the world if it wasn’t for the fact that you’re painfully introverted? You’ve written a memoir about a traumatic childhood that you know can help others, but you’re terrified that the fallout of publishing it will stretch well beyond your coping abilities? Your erotic stories are steaming hot and just begging for eager readers, but you don’t want your company’s board of directions to find out about your exciting but stigmatizing side gig?


In other words, you really want to publish an ebook, but you dread what might happen if you were to do so under your own name? 


You’re in good company. J.K. Rowling, Dr. Seuss, Ann Rice, and Mark Twain are all pen names — and even through these authors didn’t rise to fame under them, the likes of Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, and Agatha Christie have all played around with pseudonyms, too. Just as publishing your manuscript digitally, in ebook form, is a perfectly valid choice in the 21st century, there are plenty of reasons to use a pseudonym. What are the pros and cons of publishing your ebook anonymously, and can you even do that?


Can you publish your ebook under a pen name?


Yes, you can! Although you can be traditionally published under a pseudonym, too, the process of self-publishing an ebook using a pen name is actually considerably easier. If you self-publish your ebook using the Kindle Direct Publishing platform, you’ll automatically be offered the chance to publish under a pen name. Your author account will likely still be in your true name, meaning you can get paid for your work — though, if privacy is your top priority, you may be able to go even further by establishing an anonymous LLC in your pen name to make it harder for serious diggers to find out who you are.


It’s also perfectly possible to copyright your work under a pseudonym. The US Copyright Office offers you the choice between copyrighting your book under your pen name and real name simultaneously or doing so solely under your pseudonym.


The advantages of publishing your ebook anonymously


If you write your ebook under a pen name, your work can speak for itself. Done right, your true identity will not color the lens through which your readers enjoy your work, and your ebook will not come back to haunt you in your “real life”. As a new, camera-shy, author, the low stakes of publishing your ebook anonymously may give you the confidence you need to actually get your work out there. If you’re tackling controversial topics, or if you’re afraid of hate comments, publishing your ebook under a pseudonym can protect you. 


What to consider before publishing your ebook anonymously


No matter how brilliant your manuscript is, your audience won’t magically show up — to get people to actually read your book, you have to learn how to market your ebook. Like it or not, your best marketing opportunity lies in allowing your target audience to connect with you as an author. By self-publishing your work under a pen name, you rob yourself of a great opportunity to promote your work. 


Anonymity is also surprisingly and increasingly unsustainable in today’s world. You’ll have to choose your pen name with care, so that nobody can connect it back to you, and make sure your manuscript isn’t accidentally littered with small details that offer glimpses into your true identity. Thanks to social media, you’ll also either want to have extremely trustworthy friends, or keep mum about the fact that you are self-publishing an ebook. It only takes one person to spill the beans!


The more successful your ebook becomes, the harder it will be to maintain your anonymity. If you’re not aiming for your manuscript to become profitable and you’re content sharing it on writers’ groups, it’s going to be fairly easy to keep your real name out of it — but if you self-publish a successful ebook, you may eventually want to take credit for your work or be faced with sleuthing experts who dox you. 


Should you publish an ebook under a pen name? That is, ultimately, a very personal question. Authors who would eventually like to be credited for their work should strongly consider publishing under their real name from the get-go, while those who fear that their personal life or professional reputation could be ruined if the fact that they anonymously published a book came out would be advised to seek legal counsel before proceeding. 


What Film Teaches Fiction Writers About Three Acts

Many writers out there are also fans of fiction found in every other form, and every writer has a list of their favorite movies and TV shows – some writers even prefer to keep the TV running while they’re writing for the addition of background noise, while others prefer to fire up Netflix once they’re done writing for some relaxation.

But watching fiction isn’t all fun. There’s a lot writers can learn from three act fiction from movies and TV that can be applied to their own writing process to create a better story that’s easier to outline. 

Want your TV watching to turn into serious story research instead? Whip up some fresh juice with a blender and let’s talk about  how to turn your TV watching time into something that can help you write. 

Why Three Acts Work 

Three act storytelling is one of the most popular types. Here’s why. 

Act one introduces the setting, the scenes, the characters and the intrigue. It tells people why they should give a damn about the characters or the story. 

Act two introduces the intrigue, the storyline, the chase, the rest of the characters, the twists and the journey. This is the vital middle part of the story. 

Act three concludes your plot – though sometimes with a surprising twist or a cliffhanger. It brings the story together, and tells people why they have been giving a damn throughout the middle. Thus, give your ending some real punch.

Three acts are effective. It allows for tension, peaking, conclusion, twists and an end to the story (whether it’s the final end or only the end to one part in a series). 

Examples of Three Acts in Film

The popular three acts are seen in thousands of Blockbuster movies. The same way, it appears in thousands upon thousands of books and short stories. Almost no story begins without introducing (1) settings and (2) characters – and that’s act one of most stories and movies.

Die Hard, Toy Story, Star Wars, The Stand, Rocky, Rambo, The Hills Have Eyes, Cujo, The Shining, The Jungle Book, The Princess Bride, The Road. 

In fact, the list of movies that use the three acts – some in obvious ways and most not – is almost endless.

It works so well because it works. 

Even life can be seen as life in three acts if you were to think about it. First, there’s birth when you get introduced to the characters that will be in it – then there’s the middle part where your journey happens – and finally, there’s the conclusion.

Examples of Three Acts in Episodic Fiction 

Three act stories can be seen all over episodic fiction. 

This type of fiction generally has a presiding story arc (the characters and general setting remains the same), while each episode another “topic”, “story arc” or mystery that gets dealt with by the characters.

Fiction in episodes like these is a great way to illustrate the progression of a story arc, and you can practically  use this to see how your chapters and story can progress.

The Three Acts in Individual Chapters

The three acts (beginning, middle and end) apply to your story as a whole whether it’s 3, 000 words or closer to 300, 000. But it can also apply to your chapters individually – each chapter has a beginning, middle and end too. Realizing this can make outlining and writing chapters (and seeing them in perspective for the rest of your story) a lot easier for you as a writer. 

When outlining, use the “episodic” format and see each chapter as an episode in a larger part of the story.

For many writers, this is the revelation they need to get over writer’s block and back to serious writing. 

What’s The Best Fandom To Write For And How To Choose It?

Chances are you have already completed this first step and chosen a fandom. Or rather, your fandom has chosen you. It has been my experience that story ideas come to you while you watch or read something, or not long after. Your brain finds a hole in the original story. That hole does not have to be any kind of flaw in the original, but rather just a gap you can fill with your own scenarios:

•A movie you love includes two of your favorite characters on a days-long road trip. But it does not show any of the fun little side stops and adventures you know had to have happened along the way.

•The network just canceled your favorite television show. But the show ended with a season-ending cliffhanger and no resolution in sight.

•You read a book and realized that you liked the secondary characters better than the main characters. You start wondering what might happen if the story followed those secondary characters instead. The basics of writing fanfiction are the same, regardless of the fandom or the type of story you want to tell.

The fandoms themselves, though, can differ substantially in scope. Fandoms can be large or small or somewhere in between. The size of the fandom usually has little to do with the popularity of the original source material. The original could be a 90-minute film measured in ratings. It could be a book or television series measured in sales or ratings, number of volumes or episodes. That original source could be a short story that appeared in one issue of a magazine. However, the most popular fandoms usually revolve around cosmic horror or science fiction.

Or it could be a 30-second television commercial or a graphic novel that only sold a dozen copies. Those of us who write fanfiction like what we like. And we will expand on that canon — the original source or official story — accordingly. With fanfiction, you can make anything happen.

Many fanfic writers also love the idea of fanfiction because they don’t have to worry about some of the more mundane aspects of publishing (although if you do run into query letter issues or have a need for software, Reedy and Squibler have great guides for those topics). In general though, fanfiction writers can dodge those issues and just post online. Less headache.


Writing fanfiction for a television show can be both easier than for other types of fandom or it can be more challenging. Either way, the reasons are the same. There is usually so much more source material, or canon, available for a TV show it can sometimes be hard to narrow down a story idea. That can make the writing more difficult. In that same vein, because there is so much canon material, when you do come up with an idea, there is a greater possibility that no one in your fandom has

yet written a similar story. (Not that that would be a stopper. It is not at all unusual for similar inspiration to strike several fanfic writers. It isn’t the idea so much as what you do with it that counts.) A popular television fandom for fanworks of all kinds is Supernatural, an American production currently in its twelfth season.

Supernatural has 116,000 stories on one popular archive and more than 143,000 on another. (The count actually went up by about a thousand new fics while I was writing this book.) Even if many of these fics exist on both archives, which is not uncommon, that is still a large catalogue of works in just this one fandom.

Another prolific television fandom is Doctor Who, which has over fifty years’ worth of canon material to play with. This long-running British production has inspired audio plays, feature films, stage productions, and licensed novels.

There were at least two spinoff series, The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood, and they both have their own fanfiction. On one archive alone, there are more than 72,500 fics listed. At the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find Firefly, an American television series from Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame. Firefly fics span the timeline from before the series began to after the last episode ended. They cover the origins of the fictional universe, the back stories of the characters, interject scenes into episodes.

Firefly aired for only one brief, 13-episode season in 2002. In 2005, three years after the cancellation, a follow-up movie, Serenity, hit cinemas worldwide. That gave fans two more hours of new canon adventures to play with. Less than 15 hours of original material, and yet there are more than 13,000 fics written for it.

You might even remember Danger Man a more obscure TV show, but sure enough, there is fanfiction:


Movies can generally be considered to be “closed canon” in that there will not be anything new added to the original source. (This is also true for books or for television shows that have been canceled or otherwise have ended.)

Just because there won’t be any new source material added, though, does not make them any less rich a field in which to play when you write your fic. In some ways, because there is less to the official story, a movie fandom can be an even more fertile field to write in.

It will give you more possibilities that were never explored in canon.

But you also have movie series such as Star Wars or the Marvel and DC Comics movies. Movies like these are “open canon” in nature because the films are still in production. The canon story lines are more limited than those of a television series. It takes much longer for the next installment in the series to become available, months or even years, rather than showing up on a weekly basis.

These particular fandoms have a much wider scope than a standalone movie might because they include canon from comic books and novels.

The movie Titanic is an example of a closed canon fandom. There are a couple thousand fics written for the movie, most of which resurrect Jack, who dies in canon. (If you somehow missed seeing this film, my apologies for the spoiler.) Many of these fics explore what might have happened between him and Rose after that fateful voyage. Yet others take Jack and Rose and change their stories into something completely different. They look at ways they might have met without the Titanic. Or they show how their story might have evolved a hundred years later, in 2012 rather than 1912. Star Wars is an open canon consisting of movies, books, and cartoons.

It receives an injection of renewed enthusiasm every few months with the release of the newest film or novel or episode. It being an open canon gives the fandom a much larger presence on the various fanfiction archives than a closed fandom like Titanic. On one popular site, there are 2,600 Titanic fics versus 41,000 fics in the Star Wars fandom.

Even some indies have picked up some fanfiction to inject new creative flares to the storylines. Things like Bandidas for example.


Of course, books are perhaps the richest area of all for the fanfiction writer.

There are literally millions of options to choose from. Unlike other fandoms, if you write fic for a book fandom, with lots of practice you can match your writing style to the original author’s. In the long run, it is probably best for you to develop your own writing style before you try to mimic another. Even so, it can be satisfying to post a story and have people tell you it is just like reading the original.

As you might suspect, perhaps the most popular book fandoms are Harry Potter and Twilight. Between these two fandoms, there are almost a million fics posted to one multifandom website alone. At one time, Harry Potter was thought (or perhaps feared is a better word) to be a closed canon with the end of the book series. Not only did the movies add new life to fannish enthusiasm, but the wizarding world of Harry Potter is expanding.

There is new canon material with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. There will be yet more with the upcoming release of the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Just look at Percy Jackson. This is a book that has created one of the most popular fandoms. You can check out some stories from that fandom here:

Other Types of Fandoms

While television, books, and movies account for the greater part of fanfics, they are not the only types of fandom we fans write for. Anything that sparks your imagination can be used for fanfiction.

You’ll sometimes see joking references made by people who consider themselves to be a fandom of one. The commercials of insurance companies like State Farm, Allstate, and Progressive have inspired fic. You’ll find stories on the internet based on individual songs and whole albums. Comics and graphic novels have important fandom contributions. Fans have written tens of thousands of fics for Homestuck, Batman, X-Men, and the Justice League.

There are almost a thousand fics written for the Calvin and Hobbes comic series, which ended in 1995. Anime and manga fandoms are no less attractive for fanfiction writers. Shingeki no Kyojin, also known as Attack on Titan, has more than 30,000 individual fics posted to just one fanfiction archive. Another favorite anime and manga title, Naruto, has over 400,000 works on yet another website.


If more than one of the above fandoms interests you, you can consider writing a fusion fic or crossover. A crossover is a single work of fanfiction that combines two or more different, usually unrelated fandoms. You might look at a character from fandom

A and think about how well they might fit in with the characters of fandom

B. Your fic could follow their adventures in that combined fandom. You could create a setting where the characters of many fandoms interact without needing much manipulation to get them there. Or you might find opportunities to combine two or more wildly different fandoms into one story. Crossovers force you to think about how they might logically work together in a coherent whole.

Of course, your crossover doesn’t have to make logical sense. It’s a common fannish convention to “hand wave” away such mundane concerns as logic in favor of character and story. The choice is yours. The important part is to have fun writing whatever fic you choose to write.