Home/Tag: profic

Hot Tips For Writing Tech in Fic


RFID tags are not GPS devices. Most of them (passive RFID, i.e. the sort in your credit cards and pets) don’t “broadcast” per se and require a nearby reader to operate.

Powered RFIDs require a separate battery and antennae, generally have a fairly short range (few hundred meters, max), and are orders of magnitude larger than passive devices.


There’s no such thing as “military-grade encryption.” There are military standards for encryption (most notably FIPS 140), but they generally just specify algorithms and configurations. In this the Year Of Our Annuit Cœptis 2019, most modern consumer-grade technology comes with FIPS-compliant crypto configurations by default (e.g. Windows Bitlocker, macOS FileVault, iOS, etc.). It’s very difficult to “hack” but if you put a shit password in front of it, you’re still boned.

Incidentally, the “military-grade cryptography” thing is (asides from being a marketing buzzword) a hold-over from the pre-2000s era, when the US government did have export restrictions on certain cryptographic algorithms, effectively to deny anyone who wasn’t the US access to crypto the US could not hack.

These restrictions (mostly) ended when tech activists started getting tattoos depicting restricted crypto code, usually RSA implementations, effectively turning themselves into “restricted munitions” and tl;dr the laws got challenged and rendered unenforcable. Also, the internet happened.

Nowadays, some restrictions do still exist, but they’re fairly specific and almost never what anyone who uses terms like “military-grade encryption” is actually talking about.

2019-06-26T14:36:17+10:0028th April, 2019|Tags: fanfic, profic, tech, writing|

Market fandom.

So I’ve mentioned before in various places that I do, in fact, actively write fanfic under a Sekret Alias1 that I keep separate for Reasons. The main relevant thing about Sekret Alias is that it’s my relaxation space; it has pretty much no social media presence, and I do nothing to actively promote the fics I write and post there, to “network” in fandom spaces,2 or whatever. Because all of that stuff is the stuff I find exhausting and disheartening about profic, so gods know I don’t want to do any of it in my downtime.

  1. I’ve mentioned the name of it in public, out loud, exactly once. And if you think you’ve figured it out, and ask me about it in private, I’ll confirm it, probably. No one ever has. []
  2. I do respond to comments on AO3, mostly, and emails and asks and similar direct communications. []
2019-02-13T10:58:39+11:0013th February, 2019|Tags: fandom, fanfic, profic|


I know I’ve told this story before, but at a conference once, an author on a panel was asked how long it took her to write a book, from idea to publication. She said idea to publication, ten days. Ten. It takes her seven days to write it, a day to self-edit, and then a couple days to format it and set up sales channels, etc. She skips having someone else edit her work because it slows down the process, which makes her readers unhappy. They want as much new material as she can write, as fast as possible, and since they loved her books, there can’t be much wrong with them, right? It’s this story that made me absolutely skeptical of the quality of work authors with monthly or bi-monthly releases because the timeline doesn’t allow for another human being to put their eyeballs on their work. So, yes, technically this can be done. Whether or not it should be done is entirely subjective.

Jenny Trout on turnover.

Coming from fandom I find this kind of interesting, because very fast turnarounds in fanfic are both not-uncommon1 and always welcome; no one ever complained that their fav WIP got chapters added too quickly.

I think the fastest I’ve written a novel-length (60k-ish) fic was slightly under two weeks. The caveats are I didn’t have to work out characterization, setting, or lore–since they’d all been provided to me by the existing canon–and, even though I still think the fic is quite good, I find new typos and badly written sentences every time I re-read it. I also not-quite-unobviously changed the direction the fic’s finale was headed in halfway through, meaning some of the early foreshadowing is off. It’s something I’d fix up in a “profic” but didn’t worry too much about when I was posting something chapter-by-chapter to the AO3.

On the other hand, fandom is as fandom does, which means no-one’s ever complained about the fic’s deficiencies; only praised the parts about it they like. It doesn’t mean the rough edges aren’t there, though, and it doesn’t mean that learning to both, a) identify them, and b) polish them off isn’t a valuable skill. It’s just not something I feel all that bothered about doing when I’m posting fanfic, which is basically why I write fanfic; because it’s such a low-pressure2 exercise compared to producing pro works, and yet is something that helps me develop certain craft skills in ways the pro workflow doesn’t.

  1. That is, not necessarily common, but also not necessarily uncommon. []
  2. And high feedback! []
2017-08-21T08:46:15+10:0016th November, 2017|Tags: fanfic, profic, writing, xp|

The things I miss about fanfic.

The big thing I miss [about writing fanfic] is the feedback and interaction with that feedback. Yes when you write pro you get long detailed reviews, which you’re told not to read. There is amazon which you’re not supposed to reply to. It seems like Goodreads blows up at least once a month when an author responds to a review. I know to ignore the haters but there is this idea going around that you shouldn’t respond to the good reviews either.

I’ve realized it’s a matter of space and audience. Reviews are readers talking to other readers, not the author. Goodreads groups are again places for readers to talk to each other. Even if people are saying nice things about my book it feels like I’m listening in on a private conversation.

-Ada Soto on going pro.

One day I’m going to write one of those listicles about The Five Things Writing Fanfic Didn’t Prepare Me For In the Profic World. They’re all going to be things like this.

Because, yeah. This was one of the most jarring transitions I had, too. Back In The Day I was an MNF; not one of the cool kids, but “known’ enough that my fics would be in the first couple of pages of results on AO3. If I posted a new fic or chapter, I could expect comments and kudos to start coming in within the hour. People would make podfic of my stuff, write spin-offs and giftfics, do translations into other languages. All that sort of stuff. It was nice and, notably, it was immediate.

It also, I think, made me a much better–and much more prolific–writer. And the stakes were pretty low; if I tried something on, and it didn’t work… eh. It’s not like people were paying for it.

I had this perception that somehow the profic world would be… like that but moreso? Or something? So it was kind of confronting to realise that actually, no. No, it’s not like that at all. Profic writing–particularly in the midlist–is incredibly lonely. It’s long stretches of nothing punctuated by a week of panic and frenzy come release time, then a month of agonising over pretending not to read reviews. It’s this enforced wall of professional distance between yourself and your audience, no matter how much either side might year to leap that chasm.

It’s also, ironically, much more difficult to “make it” in the profic world–and yes, I’m talking about even after you’ve done the agent/publisher hurdle–than it is writing fanfic.

Quick quiz: How many book sales do you think it takes to make something like the NYT Bestseller list? 10,000? 100,000? 1,000,000?

Well, no. It’s actually closer to 3,000-6,000 sales over a single week’s period. I want you to think about that in the context of how many hits a fic from a popular fandom author can get within the same time period. You want to know why p2p and transitioning BNFs have been The Hot Shit in the professional publishing world in the past? Well, there you go. Similarly, if you want to know why some of those attempts have flunked dramatically, then there you also go; the structure of how profic is produced, marketed, sold, and received is fundamentally different that how things work in fandom. That means the same strategies don’t necessarily work across the two (and, if they do work, it’s usually not more than once, where those “onces” have already been tapped out).

This, incidentally, is also why I killed my fandom identity when I first signed with my agent. I knew I’d have to make a transition from writing-for-fun and writing-for-money, and that was how I chose to do it. Some profic authors can jump between their pro writing on the one hand and their fannish identity on the other. I knew that couldn’t be me. I’m too much of a procrastinator, and fandom was too “fun” compared to profic writing, which is for all it’s a lifelong dream, is still, yanno, work.

(There’s also the whole thing about how “reads like a fanfic” is still used to denigrate the works of, almost exclusively, female authors, including by people within fandom. I have Massive Feels on that subject, which I will reserve for another time.)

Anyway, point being, there are a lot of steep learning cliffs to jump off in the transition from fanfic writing to profic. Pretty much none of them are what people expect…

2015-08-06T08:43:50+10:006th August, 2015|Tags: fandom, fanfic, gonzo author stories, profic, writing, xp|
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