As demonstrated above, the norms of print publishing above all else value public access: public publishing, public circulation, public market through public buying and public selling, public reading, public engagement. The average fan text flouts these norms, whether because print zines are sold literally “under the table” at conventions or because fan works are posted to member-only online communities. The meaning of the word publish, “to issue text for sale or distribution to the public,” derives from its etymological root, which means “people.” This raises a deceptively simple question that has long dogged historians of women’s writing: What does it mean to be “published”? Historically, the difference between manuscript publishing and print publishing has rested on the insularity of the intended audience in the private sphere and the public acts associated with the public sphere.
Coker, Catherine. 2017. “The Margins of Print? Fan Fiction as Book History.” Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 25.
In case you missed it, Cait Coker discusses fan fiction, the OTW, and this paper in a recent guest post for the OTW.