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OTW Elections News

It's almost election time! Being a member of the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) means being able to vote for its Board of Directors. This helps affect how projects such as the Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, and Transformative Works and Cultures are run now and going forward. This year, our election for the Board of Directors will be held from August 12 to August 15. (Access the full Elections Timeline for 2022).

In order to vote, you need to be a member of the OTW by midnight UTC on June 30, 2022 (What time is that for me?). That means that you have to have made a donation of US$10 or more between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022, AND have chosen the "membership" option. If you're unsure whether this applies to a donation you've made, please contact our Development & Membership team.

If you participate in this voter registration drive, you will receive a specially designed icon, only available during this drive. Thank you for your support of the OTW! Register to vote and donate today!


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We at the Organization for Transformative Works are excited to introduce an additional way to support us: we're now one of the charities you can select when purchasing a Humble Bundle or through the Humble Store!

Humble Bundle lets you pay what you want for a selection of games, books, comics, and software, while the Humble Store acts as a hub for users to purchase games for multiple platforms. In both cases, you can select an amount to go to the OTW in support of its projects. Content availability may vary depending on your country, but there's an incredible selection to chose from! When you use the Humble Store to purchase games, or buy a Humble Bundle, select the Organization for Transformative Works as your charity of choice at checkout, and we will receive a portion of the proceeds. As always, your privacy is guaranteed!

(Donations the OTW receives as a result of Humble Bundle or Humble Store purchases will not make you a member of the OTW. If you wish to become a member, please donate via this form.)

Thank you so much for your support!

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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2017-09-28 15:48:04 UTC

Choose Books, Buy Books, Support the OTW

The Organization for Transformative Works is celebrating its 10th anniversary because thousands of fans have supported it through donations over the years. And while direct donations are the most helpful form of support (which can be made at any time of the year) there are other ways to help. You can:

  • check with your workplace to see if they'll do corporate matching of donations
  • if you use Amazon in the U.S. for purchases, sign up to Amazon Smile and select the OTW as your charity of choice.

(There are even automatic redirect apps you can install on Chrome or Firefox so you won't have to remember to sign in to Smile).

But probably the most fun way is to purchase one or both books whose royalties support the OTW! Below, three of the OTW's founding members -- Kristina Busse, Karen Hellekson, and Francesca Coppa -- from our Transformative Works & Cultures committee discuss the books they edited: The Fanfiction Reader: Folk Tales for the Digital Age and The Fan Fiction Studies Reader.

What do you see as the unique appeal of the book you worked on?

Kristina: A big problem for any young discipline is the lack of shared knowledge. In early fan studies essays -- all the way into the mid-2000s -- everyone had to explain terms and describe the community, often at the expense of more in depth and differentiated arguments. Karen and I envisioned our 2006 collection Fan Fiction and Fan Communities in the Age of the Internet as a way to move forward the conversation by starting from a shared place: our introduction offered a definitional framework and theoretical context, and Francesca's "A Short History of Fandom" narrated a version of our fannish history that most of us contributing to the issue recognized as our own.

Likewise, Transformative Works and Cultures asks our contributors to build upon existing fan studies research that is assumed to be shared and known. At the same time, many of the essays that build this foundation and are regularly cited are difficult to find. In The Fan Fiction Studies Reader, we collected in one place some of the most often referenced essays and scholars. We framed these texts with extensive essays to explain their place in fan studies' history while also pointing toward more current research that expands upon these earlier works.

Francesca: The Fanfiction Reader literally is a unique book -- it's the first collection of fanfiction stories published AS fanfiction (that is, not filed off like 50 Shades of Gray or written about works in the public domain, like fic in the Jane Austen-verse.) It's OUR sort of fanfiction: fanfiction of currently active franchises like Star Wars, Doctor Who, MCU, etc.

It's also very much an OTW project in that it furthers two aspects of the mission that have been part of OTW's agenda from the start: strengthening our legal rights around fanfiction by exercising the muscle of fair use -- the book argues that the stories within it are transformative works, and so legal to professionally publish in this particular context -- and helping to legitimize fanfiction as an art form in terms of making it easier to study (because the book is first and foremost intended for classroom use.) Bonus agenda: the book will hopefully keep random students from trolling the internet looking for fanfic because they were assigned to do so and possibly bothering or othering fans (as happened in the Berkeley case not too long ago.) It also gives instructors a series of teachable stories to use in classroom assignments.

Kristina and Karen's book The Fan Fiction Studies Readercollects essays from over the last forty years that have been important to fan studies and the study of fanfic in particular -- never again will people have to start with "What is fan fiction?" like nobody's ever written about fanfiction before. In fact, there's an amazing body of work out there, and in this reader we collect some of the most important pieces in one place, essays by people like Joanna Russ, Henry Jenkins, Constance Penley...

Karen: Francesca is right: The Fan Fiction Studies Reader brings together, in one place, many of the texts foundational to fan studies. Editing this book was so much fun: we couldn't get everything we wanted (because EXPENSIVE and LENGTH), but we got enough to create a book that fan studies acafans (and not just fan fiction acafans, despite the book's title) can use in classes. The essays in the book can be shuffled around to create any number of organizational structures. Any class that uses this book plus Francesca's book would have the synergy of the theoretical and the primary.

What part of the book do you find yourself most often quoting to others?

Karen: The introduction. I get excited about each of the sections we created within the book, with its particular focus and with its particular scholars (and headnotes for each section link the essays together to show why each selection is important in the field of fan studies, and how awesome is it that it is a field!), but the intro really lays it all out and shows the big picture. I just lent the book to a friend of mine who is completely new to fan fiction and fan studies, and I told him to read the intro. It should answer the basic question "what is fan fiction [or any fan text], and why is it important?," but it should also provide a background to fans who are coming at it from the other end: they are embedded in the fan world, but they want to know how academic discourse deals, and fan fic meta deal, with the field.

Francesca: I've been excerpting passages from the book on my Tumblr and I'm kind of shocked, but one of them has gotten something like 20,000+ likes/reblogs. It's this bit here, from the introduction to Brancher's great Lord of the Rings fic, "They Say of the Elves":

While many people think fanfiction is about inserting sex into texts (like Tolkien’s) where it doesn’t belong, Brancher sees it differently: “I was desperate to read about sex that included great friendship; I was repurposing Tolkien’s text in order to do that. It wasn’t that friendship needed to be sexualized, it was that erotica needed to be … friendship-ized.” Many fanfiction writers write about sex in conjunction with beloved texts and characters not because they think those texts are incomplete, but because they’re looking for stories where sex is profound and meaningful. This is part of what makes fan fiction different from pornography: unlike pornography, fanfic features characters we already care deeply about, and who tend to already have long-standing and complex relationships with each other. It’s a genre of sexual subjectification: the very opposite of objectification. It’s benefits with friendship.

This passage has obviously struck a chord, and it's because I think fans agree that -- even at our most "porny," certainly at our most explicit and masturbatory -- we are still relating to the characters in the story as fully-rounded human subjects. Not for nothing is the worst insult in fandom that a story is about "any two guys" (ATG) -- even in a PWP, where the story is nothing but sex, we bring our past history of and with character to bear; we're choosing to read a story about THAT person as opposed to any other John or Jane.

Do you think the books are of most interest to fans or non-fans?

Karen: Nonfans, I think. We compiled the volume with both audiences in mind, but we published with Iowa University Press, which markets to an academic audience. It's not like you'll see this book available for purchase at a science fiction or media con! The structure of the book is designed to help academics create a fan studies type of class. It provides a useful theoretical background, with foundational texts that will never, ever go awry. Fans who are particularly interested in meta, as well as fans who are pursuing MAs or PhDs and who are looking for a fan studies project, will find this book essential.

And I have to admit that part of it was me and Kristina reviewing submissions to the fan studies/media studies journal we coedit, Transformative Works and Cultures. Now when we say rhetorically of authors, "Why haven't you read X and Y?," there's no excuse: it's all in a single handy volume.

Francesca: I say it in the acknowledgments: The Fanfiction Reader is not for fandom per se, because fandom doesn’t need a reader: fandom has all the fic in the world and all the meta besides! But I think the book is a useful introduction to our sort of fandom for new audiences and especially for students. More and more people are discovering fandom through school, and so fans should have some say in how we're presented there.

What would you recommend to instructors thinking of using your books in the classroom?

Karen: I would recommend that they take the "fan fiction" part as a metaphor. Really "fan fiction" could be replaced with "fan art" or "fan manips" or "fan GIFs" or "fan Tumblrs" or "fan Twitter feeds," or whatever. Although it would go very well with Francesca's volume, the wide, wide Internet might provide useful, current primary-source examples that both support and challenge the book's themes and organization. And that's what we want: we want people to say, "Well, but what about THIS?" Indeed! Yes! What about it? Instructors could use our book to organize a class about fan studies and fan artifacts; but they could also use it to challenge the foundational ideas that we lay out. And we say, BRING IT.

Kristina Teaching fan studies and fan fiction is fundamentally different from reading and enjoying it -- or even from contributing to it. Whereas within fandom (and among fellow acafans) we can expect a certain fannish osmosis, our students may have very little shared fannish or academic background. That's where the editorial framework in both books become really important: we create context that allows students to situate and understand the stories and essays. In turn, the essays create a basis to understand more current research and the stories familiarize students with a range of fannish genres, modes, and tropes.

Francesca: Right, I agree with Kristina. I chose really big mainstream Western fandoms for The Fanfiction Reader because you can't count on students having the kind of shared experiences and ways of looking at texts that you get from being in fandom even for a short time: nowadays, I can't depend on students even having read the Harry Potter novels or seen Star Wars. So as with other literary studies, you have to understand that you're joining a community and a conversation that's been going on before you got there: The Fanfiction Reader is an attempt to open up just a few of the millions of doors that lead into that conversation. And some people will think, "Interesting!" and move on, and some people will want to walk through that door and join us in here.

What would you love to have people remember about the book?

Karen: A great thing about working in fan studies is that people spontaneously e-mail you with remarks like, "OMG I thought I was the only person who considered this stuff valuable! And you edited this book!" So I want people to remember that not only is fan engagement valuable, but it is constitutive of fandom -- fundamental, essential. Fans talking to each other = fandom. This book is part of that. By editing this book, we sought to make the conversation transparent and overt, so anyone can join in, be it outside academic or current fan, because it's all about engagement.

Kristina: The books are both selections, shaped by such random things as the length of the essays/stories and by our own interests and awareness. They are meant to whet the taste for more, to invite the reader to continue in directions that interest them. The books are a celebration of fan fiction and fan studies, a starting point. Just like engaging with any show, film, or book, the gaps are where things happen -- more stories, more discussion, more research -- a big collective work-in-progress!

Francesca: I want people to see that fanfiction is legal -- a transformative fair use that can be published and sold in certain contexts -- and also that it's an art.

You can purchase both books at most online booksellers, (or for an extra donation bump, through Amazon Smile!)

The Organization for Transformative Works is the non-profit parent organization of multiple projects including Archive of Our Own, Fanlore, Open Doors, Transformative Works and Cultures, and OTW Legal Advocacy. We are a fan run, entirely donor-supported organization staffed by volunteers. Find out more about us on our website.


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2014-11-23 18:47:02 UTC

Amazon Smile banner showing the OTW as a donor recipient

As many fans are preparing to celebrate the end-of-year holiday season, the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) would like to let U.S. supporters know that there is a simple way they can donate if they are making purchases through Amazon.

AmazonSmile is a program set up by Amazon that allows you to donate to a charitable organization every time you shop, at no cost to you. There are currently nearly one million organizations participating, and the OTW is one of them!

How to use AmazonSmile

Simply go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. The site has the same products and services as the usual Amazon domain, many of which will be marked “Eligible for AmazonSmile donation” on their product detail pages. (Recurring Subscribe-and-Save purchases and subscription renewals are not currently eligible.) The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity of your choice. Donations are made by the AmazonSmile Foundation, however, and will not be tax deductible by you.

If you have an existing account, all details will remain the same including your shopping cart, Wish List, wedding or baby registry. On your first visit to AmazonSmile you will be asked to select a charitable organization. Enter "The Organization For Transformative Works Inc" in the search field. That's it!

If you'd like to donate to more than one charity, you can always select the “Change your Charity” link in the “Your Account” page for different purchases. If you'd like to know more about AmazonSmile, visit their program details page.


Screenshot of a user's Amazon Smile page showing the OTW as the designated charity

What if I don't use Amazon U.S.?

At this time, AmazonSmile is only available to users of the U.S. site, and AmazonSmile is the only retail program through which we receive donations. If you have suggestions of other programs, please let us know!

However, you can donate directly to the OTW at any time of year through our donation page. We have answers to some frequently asked questions there, but if you have additional questions, please contact us.


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The October drive was a massive success thanks to your generosity! The staff and volunteers of the Organization for Transformative Works are in awe not only of the amount of money raised but also the thoughtful discussions that took place during the drive.

One question raised in those discussions is: what are we going to do with the extra money? We were also asked why, if our goal was US$70,000, didn’t we stop there?

There are multifaceted answers to both. The shortest and most direct have been given in the comments on the news posts for the drive; we’ll invest more money in servers, in staff training, and in consultants to back up our all-volunteer staff. Raising money beyond our initial goal allows us to do all of those things along with paying our bills until our next scheduled drive in April (and beyond). It also lets us grow our "rainy day" reserve for emergencies.

The longer answer means digging into a little of the structure of OTW and the history of our fundraising.

As you saw in post seven of the drive, a nonprofit organization like the OTW has many expenses. About 70% of our budget goes to hosting, servers, and other things to keep the AO3 up and running. The other 30% is spread among our other projects, services, meetings and general administrative costs.

While we’ve always been able to cover our expenses, there have been times when it was close. AO3, our major expense, has grown exponentially—and quite frankly, we weren’t sure what to expect in the early years. Now we have a better handle on our needs, and over the past three years, we’ve refined our fundraising plans to be more mindful of growing our income to match the growth of our expenses. Think of it as the OTW going from "living from paycheck to paycheck" to having a regular household budget, a safety net, and some extra funds to be able to do more good.

Our goal of US$70,000 was what we thought was attainable for us. Our last October drive had raised US$52,381, so we were prepared to fall short of the goal, even if we had been able to bring in more than last year.

We were not prepared for the overwhelming success of this drive. In fact, we expected to have to dip into our reserve fund to get us through the end of the year and help keep us afloat until our next scheduled drive, in April 2015. This isn’t uncommon for a nonprofit, especially one as young as OTW, but also not a strategy we could sustain long-term. Discussions began in August about expanding our fundraising plan to include major donor solicitations, more methods for monthly donations, and adding one or two special events to supplement our annual drives.

We will still be looking into those things, because they are part of a solid and diverse fundraising strategy, but the immediate pressure has eased thanks to nearly 8,000 donor who came through for us this October. Simply put, our finances are stronger than ever, and that means strengthening all of the projects under the OTW umbrella.

Anticipated expenses, in brief:

  • US$45,000 will be used to add additional servers in 2014, with at least US$100,000 in additional machinery in 2015.
  • More servers mean more space for colocation and higher power costs for those servers, expected to total US$36,000 or more in 2015, with an additional US$25,000 for a tertiary colocation site, analytics, and domain registrations.
  • An improved ticketing system for our Abuse and Support teams will cost an additional US$400 per month, a total of US$4,800 a year.
  • Training seminars and workshops for staff will be available from a pool of at least US$7,500, with another US$7,500 set aside for travel, lodging, and registration fees for presentations at fan cons, academic conferences, and other events.
  • An in-person meeting for the Board will take place in October, with possible attendance by chairs and/or other personnel, at an average of US$950 for travel, lodging and meals per person, estimated at US$15,000.
  • US$8,000 will cover routine administrative expenses, and other program expenses will require a minimum of US$23,000.
  • A nine-month cash reserve for emergencies of approximately US$72,000 will be maintained.

Beyond these immediate expenses, it’s difficult to pin down specific expenditures for 2015. As we mentioned above, we expected to go into next year with a smaller reserve and with modest growth in our income. Most of our concrete plans were built around those numbers. Committees are being asked to submit additional requests in November, but there are a few areas where we expect to increase funding.

We’ve talked about the immediate impact for AO3 in terms of additional servers and rack space, contract employees, and training. Fanlore and Open Doors will see some tangential benefits just from sharing the same server space. The upgrade in software for AO3 Support and Abuse will also make it easier to respond to user inquiries about Open Doors’ preservation work.

Our other two major projects, Transformative Works and Cultures and the legal advocacy work of our Legal committee, run on significantly smaller budgets than the AO3. Our legal team incurs filing fees from time to time along with the costs of traveling to hearings and meetings related to fair use. The staff of TWC, our academic journal, travel to academic conferences across the U.S.; another expense is the annual registration fee for the journal. The budget surplus created by this drive will allow them to represent OTW at more events, and for members of both committees to join Development and Membership—the committee behind our fundraising—in their plans for increased outreach at fan cons.

All of our projects and committees will benefit as well from more money to support staff and volunteers in attending more trainings, seminars, and webinars. Strengthening professional skills and connections across the OTW has always been a priority, whether it’s taking advantage of a management workshop for Volunteers and Recruiting or sending staff to participate in events like AdaCamp.

All of these areas are places in which we can grow thanks to the success of this drive and the generosity of our members. We expect to give an update on both the annual budget and our fundraising plan for 2015 by early January, so watch this space.

We’ll have another fundraising goal in April, and we hope that fandom will come through for us again. Remember: we’re only as strong and as vital as you, our users and members, make us.

Here’s some more details for all the number geeks among you:

Monthly expenses, recurring:
Regular monthly expenses as of 30 October: US$5,497.20
Monthly average expenses estimate for 2015: US$8,066.66
(Includes server colocation, routine program and administrative expenses paid every month)

Total anticipated expenses from 1 January to 30 March:
First quarter expenses, 2015 adjusted estimate: US$84,949.67
(Includes regular monthly expenses plus US$60,000 server purchase and preparation for the April fundraising drive; minimum amount we must have on hand)

9 months of reserves, 2015 estimate: US$72,599.94
(Based on regular monthly expenses; amount held to "keep the doors open" as we are, without growth, during emergencies)

Expenses plus reserves
First quarter expenses plus reserve, 2015 estimate: US$157,549.60
(Amount we must have on hand on 1 January to carry us through to 30 March and maintain 9 months of reserve funding)

Surplus talk:
Carry over: US$197,544.09
(Assumes we meet November and December fundraising goals and spend remainder of 2014 budget; this is the total amount of money we’ll have on hand on 1 January)

Surplus: US$39,994.48
(Amount remaining after 2014 budget is met, first quarter expenses, and reserve goal are met)

Preliminary budget talk, 2015:
We expect our 2015 budget will be (rough estimate): US$230,000
This number includes hardware purchases as well as regular monthly expenses, in-person meeting, staff development and outreach fund, and more.

Thank you for your support—your generosity makes our work possible.


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2014-02-25 21:42:28 UTC

Banner by Diane with the outlines of a man and woman speaking with word bubbles, one of which has the OTW logo and the other which says 'OTW Announcement'

The OTW is proud to announce the release of The Fan Fiction Studies Reader. The brainchild of Transformative Works and Cultures editors Karen Hellekson and Kristina Busse, the reader is a reprint collection of many key works in the field of fan studies. The Reader is intended for classroom use, but it will also be of interest to people in the field of fan studies.

All royalties for The Fan Fiction Studies Reader will go to the OTW. The OTW supported the project by paying fees for the essays' reprint rights. (In the case of many such anthologies, these payments are provided by the academic institutions that employ the editors.) Karen and Kristina have written a general introduction as well as brief overviews for each of the book's four sections. Because of their interest in open access publishing, Karen and Kristina have placed their introduction and the headnotes in the public domain, effective in 10 years' time.

The essays, which are organized into four thematic sections, address fan-created works as literary artifacts; the relationship between fandom, identity, and feminism; fandom and affect; and the role of creativity and performance in fan activities. Fan works, considered as literary artifacts, pose important questions about the nature of authorship, the meaning of originality, and modes of transmission.

The Fan Fiction Studies Reader is part of the University of Iowa's newly launched fan studies line. Their university libraries' special collections department also works with the OTW's Fan Culture Preservation Project, which preserves fanzines and other nondigital forms of fan culture.