All Your Fanfiction Belong To Us: What The Fuck Is Kindle Worlds?

Amazon is now monetizing fan-fiction.

I mean, I guess?

The press release (with scads more detail) is right here.

I am of two minds on this. Maybe three minds. MAYBE A ZILLION MINDS.

I’m generally pro-fanfic. Like, I know some authors get their browneyes puckered over other people splashing around in their kiddie pools, and I understand that gut-level reaction — but me, I think if you have an audience willing to write fan-fiction about your work, you’re pretty fucking lucky. And it’s always half understood that fan-fiction is fan-fiction. Non-canonical. Utterly apocryphal. Yeah, whatever, sure, Spike and Angel can fly the Serenity through the Stargate and they can fight Darkseid and 69 each other on a bed of glittery vampire dust.

Woo! No problem. High-five.

And this appears to be a way to sanction fan-fiction — it’s not like, Amazon deciding to just allow people to sell it wantonly. It appears to have author (or at least publisher) approval behind it. And authors get paid! I like when authors get paid. Because mouths! To feed!

So, my concern here isn’t actually financial — like, this isn’t theoretically that different from someone licensing your work and your world to, say, the comic book space. Or to an RPG or video game. Or even to film or TV. (Though the percentage here seems likely far less.)

The weird thing is what happens to that comfortable space that separated canonical from non-canonical. Like, one assumes that the fan-fic remains officially non-canonical — and yet, people are paying for it. And getting paid in return. Which lends a kind of intellectual and emotional legitimacy to it. And allows for a very weird thing to happen: it lets the licensed fan-fiction to become, in theory, bigger than the material that spawned it.

And even if it doesn’t become bigger it still grants it a kind of territory in the canonical space. Someone might read Book 3 of the Miriam Black series, The Cormorant, and say, “But this doesn’t refer to that time when she time-traveled back to the Old West in that novella, Booby Nuthatch.” And you’re like, “That wasn’t real, though, someone else wrote that.” But then they say: “I PAID FOR IT SO IT FELT REAL TO ME” and then they sob into your shoulder and you wonder suddenly how they got that close and should you call the police? Probably.

That’s a pretty serious shift in authorship and authenticity.

Which is breaking my brain right now.

How much say does an author get?

How much veto power does Amazon or the publisher get?

Does this place too much power in Amazon’s hands (HAHA TOO LATE)?

Or does this put more power back in the original author’s hands?

Does this further remove legitimacy from unpaid fan-fic?

Do these pantaloons make my thighs look fat?

WUZZA WOOZA FUZZY BUZZY.

Like, if I had to make a judgment, I’m 51% this being a good thing, 49% this being a THING I CANNOT WRAP MY HEAD AROUND FUCK IT I DON’T KNOW

*detonates the Internet with the push of a comical red button*

Anyway. Interesting. Say what you want about Amazon, but they’re some crafty-ass trilobites.

What are your thoughts, Oh Goggle-Eyed Readership?

169 comments

  • Genius idea. Folk have always written fanfic, and the Amazon machine has found a way to monetize it. This could be *enormous*, or, you know, not. Either way, kudos to Amazon for trying something new*.

    ___

    *And by “new”, I mean, of course, “very similar in concept to Angry Robot’s WorldBuilder Experiment (TM)”

  • My first thought is ‘erk’. Nothing complex or insightful, just ‘erk’. I’m already weirded out by the concept of fanfic, i mean, I wrote some, I get the drive, but I’m not sure I like the idea of other people playing with my toys.

    I was a posessive, selfish child.

    My gut reaction to this is aaargh arrgh no no no but is that just me being a brat?

  • Holy shit, what? Sure, imitation and flattery and stuff, but HEY THAT’S MY STUFF. I feel that. But it is also of the mindset that any publicity is good publicity, and if this is a way to embrace the future of publishing to keep it alive, then by all means, let’s do it. If people are interested in a story enough to want to imitate it, then go, reading! Money for authors is money well spent, regardless of the means. Unless it’s blood money somehow, then no.

    –Julie

  • Man, this is squishing my mind-grapes too. One of my first thoughts: what if a piece of fan-fic then gets picked up for movie rights? Or if a publisher decides that someone else’s version of your characters is more in line with their profit motive than yours? Could authors get dropped from their own series? Or end up with a series where they only intended one book?

        • And what if you write a new book in your own series and suddenly get contacted by fan-fic person selling their work in your world that has some similarities to what you’ve put out, even though you never read the fan-fic. Can said fan-fic writer now sue you, the actual author of the series, for “stealing his/her ideas?”

          • Which is basically what happened to Marion Zimmer Bradley at one point and she ended up shelving the book she had created rather than publish it and risk a lawsuit.

        • Does the true author get say in what can and cannot be published in their setting? If I’m writing a rousing action tale of family friendly sword and sorcery that I’m trying to keep clean and of a certain respect, can fan-ficer write a snuff-porn with bestiality and publish it? What will that mean for the franchise if people begin to relate that work to my own?

          Also, does the writer get any say in whether their work is a part of this or is it solely in the purview of the publishing company?

        • …I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that if you’re a studio exec, you’re not going to write fan fic for Amazon and risk having to fight them for copyright over a measly royalty on a 3.99 book, just so you can make a movie about a property you’ve already for the rights to.

  • Does it make a significant difference if the original author’s work exists within its own self-contained ‘verse? For example, if I write up a crazy fanfic where the Amazing Amy from Gone Girl becomes a lesbian firefighter, does that muck up the creative origins as much if I make a wildly popular Dresden Files spin-off? It may be an intellectual distinction since fan fiction seems to grow on those established universes to a much greater degree than stand-alone works, but I wonder if the real concern here is that when you build this intricate universe in your mind that other people can start moving in and claiming real estate. Not many creators make the transition from closed ‘verse to open ‘verse gracefully (Lovecraft, perhaps, but he helped by dying).

  • In terms of Rights, Amazon has licensed the content from Warner, who hold the rights. I don’t know about Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Wossnames, but The Vampire Diaries, though written by a single author, was never owned by the author, but by a packaging house. There are no rights implications here, guys – it’s all perfectly legal and above board.

  • Do not want. So much do not want. Miles and miles of do not want.

    I don’t understand why they’re doing this. I know fanfiction has gained a bizarre sort of legitimacy based on stuff like 50 Shades of Gray (which was Twilight fanfiction), but this seems like a truly bizarre experiment. What publisher would alloy this? What author would be fine with others being paid for their own intellectual property? The problem of canon is also very interesting.

    I wrote my own fanfiction when I was younger and I still think it’s a fine way to find your voice and hone your writing chops, but it isn’t something that should be publishable. Does that make sense? What’s to stop people from going full out Cassandra Clare here?

    Is it wrong that I hope this idea goes down in flames? Does that make me a bad person?

  • I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this is a cool, fine thing. IF the original author (or rights holder in the case of work for hire) gets to opt-in or not to Kindle Worlds then I can’t see the bad. If an author is uncomfortable with it they just don’t sign up. If they are comfortable with it, well there it sits waiting for them. Same thing goes for the readers – if Amazon makes it VERY clear that what you are buying is someone’s take on another author’s work then there’s no problem there either.

    It’s funny because I was just laying out in my brain a blog post I want to write tomorrow about my love of song “covers” and how shared worlds in fiction are sort of like that and how I’d like to see more room for it in the universe of fiction.

    • Reading the press release, Amazon is paying royalties to the rights holder (i.e., original author/publisher) as well as the author of the fan fic. It also says, “Amazon Publishing will work with them to establish content guidelines that balance flexibility and openness for writers with what’s reasonable for the franchise.” So, it requires opt-in from someone in charge of the original work, and it sounds like that person will get the option to nix stories or directions they don’t like.

      I’m really not sure how I feel about this.

  • Also, who would want this? What is the market for this? Would you pay to read fanfiction…?

    My mind is literally imploding right now. Someone send help.

  • I’m not keen on the idea. I played around in the fanfic kiddie pool several years ago when I decided to give this writing thing a try again. It was a place to work on certain aspects of writing without having to concentrate on all aspects – you could work on plot elements without worrying about characters or worlds because they already existed, or you could rebuild the world without worrying about plot/characters, or introduce an original character without worrying about plot/world. I looked on it as a type of writing prompt/exercise with the added bonus that it was something I truly loved (and still do). But I don’t think any of my stories should earn me money because they’re, essentially, just exercises while playing with someone else’s toys.

    If you have a story, a character, a world, or a plot that you feel is good enough to throw to the circling reader-sharks, then take the time, love, and care to make it completely and entirely your own. Take those lessons in character, plot, etc and put them together into something completely new, and yours, and (hopefully) awesome. Take off the arm floaties and sink or swim on your own merit without remaining tethered to another person.

  • This statement
    “Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights,
    for the term of copyright.”
    Is a bit all encompassing, All my new stories, I could get a better deal off of Old Nick, at least he will keep me warm and toasty for ever. Where I am copyright is fifty years after death. Does it mean something else in the USA?

    Tony S

  • This will go to the heart of intellectual property law. Perhaps a music-industry model might help – paying for the rights to use someone else’s work (if someone else is going to make money off it). You know not everyone will be happy with this, and what if the authors disagree with how the story was developed or the quality of the work? What if they lose fans to the fanfic writer, who then essentially hijacks their story?

    *mind boggling*

  • I think that when things like 50 Shades started being published—as self-professed fan-fiction, not just as badly written erotica (from all I’ve heard)—it started breaking down the boundaries a bit. My experience with fan-fiction was weird Harry Potter erotica a friend of mine wrote in middle school—and it was all a bunch of teens writing weird Hogwarts hookups, badly. If “fan fiction” is just well-written work inspired by something already written, then have at it. If fan fiction is a jumbled mess of bad writing, nonsense plots, and stealing pre-written characters, then I think it should stay in fan-fic forums where people who want to read it can read for free.

  • Canonicity is really interesting because it’s simply a question of declaration — something is canonical if a recognized authority SAYS it is.

    When I was building up the DINO-PIRATES OF NINJA ISLAND setting site ( http://dino-pirates.com/dponiwiki/canonical/True/ ) this was a problem I considered — what if people started creating islands that didn’t fit with my view of the setting? Should I require approval before their content could appear?

    Like you, I’m a big fan of people engaging with stuff they like, and I recognize that everyone’s vision is going to be subtly different. So I hit on a simple solution — I’d allow any and all created content to exist, but I’d provide a bit of curation, as the “owner” of the setting. I’d just declare that some islands were canonical and some were not. People are welcome to ignore my decision that way, of course, but by providing that guidance I can at least share with folks MY vision for the DINO-PIRATES setting.

    And nobody can refute that — it’s just MY opinion, but if my opinion carries weight, then it’s of value.

    I think the steady “mainstreaming” of fan fiction ultimately gives more power to the individual creators. ANYONE can just put up a “canonical” list of stuff (some fan-created, some, uh, creator-created). And some people’s canonicity judgements will carry more weight than others. Joss Whedon’s judgements on Buffy fanfic, for example, will probably carry more weight than some “official” list by whatever media conglomerate currently owns the rights to the TV show.

    Maybe. Big media conglomerates have proven pretty good at staying in control of their properties, so maybe they’ll stay on top of this.

    It’ll be interesting, whatever happens.

  • Well, there’s plenty of precedent for non-canonical fiction written and sold with accompanying fiction already. There’s many Star Trek novels, which are probably some of the more extensive range, but I’ve also seen officially published books for Smallville, Charmed, Star Gate, even Quantum Leap! I don’t see this as being much different, except that it will prove easier for people to enter the market.

    • Exactly.

      They keep presenting this as “monetizing fan fiction” when what it actually is is “blowing the gates open for tie-in fiction.”

      Even the terms they present are bog-standard for licensed tie-in work.

  • To be honest, I think it’s a great thing. This gives more budding authors a chance to get their work out there AND write for the “worlds” they enjoy. Let’s remember that Kindle Worlds is only for certain licenses. In saying that, it doesn’t mean that Fan Fiction Author A can suddenly write fan fiction for Random Author B’s work, and get paid for it. I think most authors that are worrying about this won’t, exactly, have to worry.

    PLUS, if you are one of the lucky authors Kindle Worlds approaches about licensing for fan fiction, you get a cut for any fan fiction stories that sell. It’s free money to you. What’s NOT to like?

    Popular shows like Vampire Diaries (a license for Kindle Worlds), etc., have huge fan fiction followings already. I think this is a genius idea by Amazon, and makes a huge stride toward “Hey, look! Publishing is for everyone! WHEE! Confetti!”

    A++ Amazon. You know where it’s at.

  • Down in the fine print, Amazon lists the specific titles on TV shows that are eligible for this experiment. They are all licensed from the producer. So it appears that at least for now, no one is going to be making gazillions off fan-fiction of BlackBirds unless you agree to license it to Amazon.

  • Regardless of the weirdness about canon vs. non-canon (which is making me facepalm already), this just made me push back from my desk and go “AW HELL NAW!”

    “Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.”

    A WORLD OF NO, AMAZON.

  • I would only be interested in LOOKING at this if there are series bibles, because I’d want to deconstruct them. I would not write in the worlds they have, nor would I read them. Maybe something interesting would come along in the future. For now, I want to see series bibles, for my own study in making them.

      • Yeah, I’ve gone through that, the one for Gargoyles and one for ST:Voyager.

        But more! MORE MORE MORE!

        Somebody does something a little different in each one that gives me an idea how to make my own better.

  • It’s not all THAT different from the scads of Star Trek novels or the Star Wars EU, which are soft canon at best (and sometimes contradict each other.) What caught my eye was that Amazon takes ALL rights, apparently forever. How does that compare to a typical tie-in contract?

    • In my experience, at least, that’s exactly how work-for-hire contracts work for tie-ins. The four Trek short stories I wrote all had contractual elements that made it clear anything I made up wasn’t mine to keep. And I was ok with that because, hey, I’m writing Star Trek and getting paid! Woo!

      As for this overall concept, I think it’s brilliant. IP owners don’t have to pay advances to writers writing in their universes now. 🙂

  • May 22, 2013 at 10:44 AM // Reply

    Many different kinds of not okay with this. I turned to fanfic when the ending (amongst other things) of a popular glittery saga which will remain nameless *cough* left me so cold I may as well have been in Siberia (the shitty end). And yeah I found some weird shit and some creepy shit and some downright shitty shit BUT I have also read the most wonderful, complex, character-driven, plot-spectacular fics. I have met fantastic and interesting people (also dull and shitty ones but they’re easily weeded out). Fanfic has brought me a world of awesome and made me a better writer.

    I, and most of the fanficcers I regularly talk to, are not okay with this Amazon bullshit, although our reasons differ from yours. We were epically not okay with the Master Of The Universe pull-to-publish (it became a popular trilogy now known as 50 Shades). There is a large section of us that are not okay with p2p and I know several fanficcers/blogs that regularly pass around lists of p2p books so that they can be easily avoided.

    Our biggest objection though has little to do with money, (although we find it quite distasteful to make money of the back of someone else’s success but fanficcers are hardly the first to do that – and this is actually a much longer, indepth reason as to why so many fanficcers are not okay woth p2p that I won’t go into here), and more to do with someone commercialising our favourite hobby. We talk about books, all the time. My twitter feed sometimes reads like the world’s biggest book-club. Most of us are grown adults. We have boring-arse grown adult lives. We read books and talk about them. If we love the world/characters/dynamics sometimes we like to fic about them. We do it in our spare time. We do it together. We read over each other’s fic and critique it. We do it for fun, we do it for our own enjoyment and, most importantly, we do it for free. Most of us are tired of people fucking with our hobby and Amazon are the latest in a long line to try and commercialise what we see as a spare-time fun activity. So no, I am not okay with this latest fuckery and most of my fanficcer friends aren’t either.

    In conclusion – no, no, no and fuck no.

    That is all.

    • I’m sorry, but I don’t understand this much at all. Seems to me that what you’re describing is a situation where some of this fanfic community has their own version of “fake-geek-girl syndrome”. I mean, how is your community harmed by other people doing their own version of your hobby their way? Do you honestly mean to say that just because the particular subset of fan fiction writers that you belong to have a particular ethos about it that no one else is allowed in the club unless they meet your criteria and do it your way? What makes fan fiction as a hobby so special that it can only be practiced one way? And most importantly if some people are over on Amazon making some money off of it how does that stop you and your friends from continuing to do what you’ve always done?

      • Has it occurred to you that if an author licenses his/her book to Amazon, the evil empire can then declare all fanfiction of that book illegal unless it’s being published through them? In plain English, let’s say Amazon acquires the Twilight license (sorry, Lizard) and then says, okay, all fanfic for Twilight must now be published through Amazon. Do you see how that what we pursue as a hobby for the love of the original books could then be taken from us?

        I’m with Lizard on this. NO, NO, NO AND FUCK NO!

        • You are aware that fanfic IS technically violating copyright law, specifically as covering Derivative Works, right?

          That the rights-holders could (and in some cases, have) send out Cease & Desists NOW, if they chose to?

          So how does this “take away from you” something which you only enjoy now because nobody has bothered to come after you?

        • I don’t want to ignore what you asked here, but I can’t really add anything more than Gareth already did. Fanfic is already illegal if the rights holders choose to raise a stink over it.

      • The part you may not be understanding is the “Fan” in “Fan Fiction.” Traditionally, fandoms have been “safe” places, where shared love of the original work has baked in a certain sense of community, along with a shared shorthand about the work, and also a shared understanding that everyone in the community is doing it because we all love the same thing. When you monetize it, you get the P2P people, whose motivations then become murky–are they in the community because they love the original work like the rest of the fans, or are they poseurs, there to fleece the geeks and essentially cash in on someone else’s love.

        And yes, fandom has always had its Huckster’s Room, but it was just that–the room where all the vendors sell their collectibles. Clearly marked, with operating hours after which, everyone could all be just fans again and geek out over that one plot twist from season 3 or vote on our favorite walk-ons or minor characters. You could count on not being sold to outside the Hucksters’ Room or business hours. You could believe your fellow fanficcers…cared. Sure, it may be naive or overly optimistic or unrealistic, but there you go.

        • Few days late on the reply, but I’m going to toss it out there anyway.

          What you describe sounds very nice, but I still don’t see the problem. It seems to me that people who are part of this noble, for the love only, fandom will simply refuse to take part in Amazon’s plans. They’ll neither write stories for it nor pay for the stories that others do write for it.

          The people who participate in Amazon’s fan fiction world will be off over there doing their own thing and this very nice sounding other fandom you write about will continue to do their thing for the love.
          No harm no foul.

          I get worried when I hear sentiments like “fleece the geeks” and “cash in on someone else’s love”. It sounds like a desire to police things to protect others from themselves. That’s something that often bothers me. If someone pays to read some Amazon produced fan fiction I would never assume they had been fleeced or exploited. I’d assume they made a rational choice of how to allocate the twin resources of money and free time that are theirs to spend the way they will. It all reminds me of the people who complain that Kickstarter being used by famous people is somehow exploitative. I hate that idea too.

          I prefer to believe that so long as no one is lied to about what they are being offered then choice is rarely a bad thing. Something that fan fiction writers seem to be ignoring is that there just might be other fans of these properties who would love to read some of the fan fiction that will be produced under the Kindle Worlds umbrella who would not be interested in heading over to fanfiction.net for any number of reasons. Similarly, there may be writers who’d love the chance to hone their craft and make some money doing it by working with the safety net of an existing world and built-in fan base. That does not make them exploitative hucksters.

          So yes, it’s great that there is this culture of fandom that is fan fiction writing as some of you know it. But when you start tossing around concepts that sound like “we are the true fans” or laying ownership and setting rules to how the act of writing fan fiction must be done then it stops being a culture and starts becoming a cult.

      • Yes, that’s it exactly. P2P or Pull2Publish is taking your fanfiction, changing the character names and some other identifying things and then selling it as oh-so-original fiction. Nevermind that the characters aren’t your own creation. The most widely known P2P is probably Fifty Shades of Fuckery. I mean, Grey.

        • Well, it has a long and glorious tradition (Bujold, I’m looking in your direction!) but you have to do a LOT more than just change the names….

          • Not anymore. I spotted one book in Target the other day that was littered with reviews copped straight from the Twilight fan-forums on which it was originally published as Twilight fan-fic. And it came out from one of the big 6 (I forget which one, though). The *publisher* made no secret that it was fan-fic with the serial numbers filed off, and actually played the angle to boost the sales. It’s hella weird when your big sales angle is that you *are* copying somebody else’s stuff.

  • From the perspective of someone writing fan-fiction, this looks pretty sweet, except for the clause that says all your future word-babies belong to Amazon. I’m really not cool with that, so that definitely needs some explaining. On the other side, as long as things are properly licensed and everyone understands what is and isn’t “official”, I’m not sure there’s a problem. If anything we might see the cream start to rise to the top, as people rightly refuse to pay good money for any old shite. I can write ludicrous stories where people inappropriately hump each other until the cows come home, but nobody in their right mind is actually going to lay down their hard-earned for that crap, so it will sink to the bottom of Amazon’s rankings and into deserved obscurity. There is good fanfic out there, but it’s largely hidden among the wish-fulfilment pen dribblings of the scary cat ladies (and gentlemen) of this world, maybe this will help to bring some of it out into the light.

  • I happened to start writing fanfiction as a way to exercise my creative muscles after being on a writing hiatus for a long time and genuinely like it BUT there are a lot of terrible fanfiction stories out there with horrible syntax, poor grammar, bad style, walls of text, etc. and it can be read FOR FREE. Why pay for something when you don’t have to, especially of the chances of buying something close to illegible are high.

    Personally, I wouldn’t bother. Now, what I would do is convert my fanfiction, remove all the fanfiction elements and publish as my own, going by the way of many other authors who have done the same and still retain copyright over my work.

    As an aside, I’ve seen people on fanfiction break out into typed out brawls and flaming over canon vs, non-canon, Mary Sue OC self-inserts and having characters written out of character. I can only imagine the controversy that would exist if there was a fee attached. Also, many of these fanfiction writers tend to use song lyrics and real life figures in their work because they don’t know any better, especially about intellectual property and libel. I can see the lawyers already salivating over this.

  • As noted above, the current IPs are licensed from YA book/show packager Alloy, which is owned by Warner Bros. So it’s less like monetizing fanfic and more like crowdsourcing ghosts. Most of the terms (like pay, rights to original content, and use of content) arent that different from working with Alloy directly. Right now, at least. Obviously things can get pretty sticky pretty fast if/ when non-packager IPs come into play.

    I’m not a fan of monetizing fanfic. I mean, some pretty big names have been crucified by the fan community for it (before they broke out with their original fiction). But if a self-pub bed author wanted to create a shared world (like the original wishes Lovecraft had for his mythos or, say, your Blackbloom experiment from a while back), this wouldn’t be a horrible way to go about it.

  • I was under the impression that fan fics are “tolerated” even if it’s a clear IP breach because it’s for fun, not for profit. If this is what it seems and people starts profiting from it, then I guess it can be prosecuted in full force, isn’t it?

  • I don’t think it will bother me, because I don’t intend to licence my world to them. But for writers who may be done writing in a particular world and ready to move on, it might be a good way to earn some extra cash by allowing others to utilise the world they created. I supposed it all depends on being sure you don’t want to go back to it later, because yeah, the canon issue would crop up.

  • I have mixed feelings about this. I myself am a fanfic writer (~theurbanspaceman on fanfiction.net ). Even when I’m writing ‘original’ material, I always write fanfic on the side as well. Would I be able to sell it? I honestly don’t know. My fanfics aren’t an outlet for my own sexual desires, so that’s lost me a huge chunk of the fanfiction market already. ‘My’ characters mostly don’t get to have happysexyfuntimes, and even though there’s sometimes sexual tension between characters, it’s not always acted upon.

    Although I’m aware that some writers do write officially for TV series/games etc, and said books are considered mostly non-canonical, I’m still a bit leery about reading that sort of stuff. I’ve had one or two bad experiences (read a novelisation of Baldurs Gate, wish I’d had bleach to hand with which to cleanse my eyes, it was that dire). I’m also acutely aware that published =/= good quality, and that if a bunch of really bad (IMHO of course) fanfics are published this way, it will sully the already tarnished name of fanfic even further.

    Personally speaking, 99.9% of my fanfics are not based on books, because I just don’t feel right using other authors’ characters. I do most of my fanfics around games, and some TV shows, which tend to have multiple writers’ input and makes me feel less uncomfortable. Plus, I feel there is more freedom to explore non-book characters. Dunno why.

    So, like you, mixed feelings.

  • Write your own story, you fucking hack. Put in the time, dig into your own brainpan and loose some juicy tome noodles of your own. Publish fan fic and the world should go all Disney on you, (You know nobody messes with the mouse. Dark suits with guys in them show up at your door and you’re never seen again).

    But seriously, I never got the whole fan fiction thing. I know some people do, and that’s … well, it’s fucking weird. Write your own stuff or shut up. The world doesn’t need your particular view of Luke Skywalker and his daddy issues.

    • Fuck you too.

      Now we’ve that out of the way, even if you don’t like to read it yourself, It is a good exercise for those people who want to become part of a team. Screen writers, play writers, movie writers, they all need the exercise to write characters and plot and universe which were invented by someone else.

      Or do you consider these people hacks to?

      • Completely in agreement. Robert Jordan wrote Conan pastiches back in the day. Then he went on to write books with seven-figure advances. Doug Wojtowicz started off as a Mack Bolan/Executioner fanfic writer and is now one of the series’ top wordsmiths. Countless authors cut their teeth writing Cthulhu Mythos fiction. Everyone needs to dial down their rage a little.

    • Can’t help but agree with this. Not only that but the length of some pieces of FF are crazy… that person could have produced two or three novels out of all that hard work – their own legit work, too, but instead, nahhh.

  • On the surface, I think this is a pretty genius idea by Amazon. I’m all for writers making money on writing. (Sadly wishing I’d written fanfic so I could capitalize on stuff I might just have lying around.)

    That being said, the “rights” issue bothers me significantly. Hypothetically speaking, if Warner had a huge publishing company, and I had sold rights to it for a trilogy or two, of which people were writing scads of fanfic… would Warner have the right to give over my world to Amazon while they held the rights? Without my consent? What happens when the rights return to me? Presumably Warner still gets to profit off my world…?

    It’s starting to look awfully murky.

    New contracts can prepare for this. It’s going to be pretty interesting to see how big publishers with high-profile ‘world’ assets will interpret the contracts they have. Fallout should be pretty interesting to watch.

  • I agree with you that Amazon–crafty trilobites. But a good thing? NOOOOOOO! I agree with im_not_a_lizard, ’cause I’m too lazy to read all the other comments and “lizard” is clearly too cool to even own an apostrophe.

    Besides the blatant grab at a buck (and, yeah, making a living, yada yada, but tired of obvious money grubs), sanctioned fanfic is…what? What the heck is it? It’s confusing, that’s what. It’s like James Patterson and Thomas Kinkade crap, that’s what. Life-juice suckers.

    Remember when your parents started saying, “Groovy,” or “Jiggy with it” or “Sha-zizzle” or whatever it is you crazy kids say these days, then it wasn’t cool any more. Ick.

    So now there’s going to be “fan-fic” and “real fan-fic.” At some point, it’s going to get all Pussy Riot in the Internets.

  • May 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM // Reply

    Okay, jumping in here.
    Technically, they’ve already been doing this. Look at, for example the amount of Phantom of the Opera spin-off Kindle books there are. (NOT NAMING MINE SO NOT A PLUG) I wrote one of those. And so far, I’m enjoying royalties of 70 percent — which equals out to about $30 a month. It’s a niche market. Erik’s lovely to play with, but people aren’t as into PotO as they were twenty years ago.

    Now, I guess with these big time WB type shows or whatever the hell it is they’ve licensed, there’s more money to be made and had, as people will buy this because it’s popular right now.

    WE WILL NOT TALK ABOUT WESLEY CRUSHER TEENAGE F**K MACHINE. That stuff is cray-cray.

    Really all this means to me is that they’re going to open the floodgates and let the teeny-boppers who are into these shows — Vampire Diaries? WTH is that? — write shockingly bad stuff. And the other teeny-boppers will eat it with marshmallows and demand more. (DISCLAIMER: I like fanfiction. I write fanfiction. Lots of fanfiction is actually good. But the majority is far too Mary Sue for words.)

    Right. TL;dr. Doesn’t matter so long as they’re not taking stuff that they haven’t licensed from writers of original work.

      • May 22, 2013 at 11:39 AM // Reply

        You can play with Erik! He’s public domain. I’ve reserved the rest of my characters, though. 🙂 *Snorts at the self important assumption that anyone here has read my work*

  • I think this is a messy, messy business model. What sort of copyright protection do the FF authors have? (And more importantly, who can afford to go up against a company like Alloy or Amazon?)

    There have been a few instances of “authors” trolling the FF sites and taking the ideas and stories that are already there and written in full, and publishing them as their own work. Even a few smaller vanity publishers approaching FF authors and saying “publish with us or we’ll get someone else to do it for you.” What’s to stop this from happening on a large scale? Who protects the rights of FF writers who have no desire to sell their work? Doesn’t this leave a lot of people vulnerable who only wanted to celebrate their beloved author’s world?

    • And this is another concern that have many people over at fanfiction.net in a tizzy. There is no protection really. Fanfic is a legal gray area. Though, i would gather someone who saw their words copied and pasted from someone else and they made money off of it, the “original” author could invoke the Berne Convention and have it removed, though they would never really be able to sue for lots of damages without actual copyright registration.

    • Read the author’s section (linked from the first page linked in Chuck’s post). They’re clear about the copyright issues — and it’s standard licensed-fiction stuff:

      1) You own the copyright on the stuff YOU created that’s 100% original.
      2) The Rights-Holder for the setting owns the stuff they created (i.e. the setting stuff, the official characters, etc.)
      3) In return for getting paid under this program, you agree to license to the rights-holder, for free, the right to use the stuff you created in later works that THEY might create. (Again, standard licensed-fiction stuff — if you play in somebody else’s sandbox, they get to use the castle you built.)

      I did some work on the STAR TREK role-playing game, and created some elements of Vulcan history, which was later used (without credit or any further pay) in episodes of ENTERPRISE. That’s how it goes.

  • Wide Sargasso Sea, Alan Moore’s Lost Girls, Death Comes to Pemberley, And Another Thing…

    Aren’t these all basically paid fanfiction? Or is it OK when established writers do it?

  • I like that authors at least have the option of signing on to this, so they know what they’re getting into and must thus be cool with the can o’ worms it may come packaged with.
    I don’t like the ownership grab that Amazon is making for anything written under this umbrella: the originals don’t belong to them, but the literally infinite potential stories spun off of those originals are now Amazon properties.
    I propose authors approached for signing up for this turn it down and instead open up their own shops for this kind of world expansion: ‘Here’s my contract for Licence To Fanfic, which says you can write anything you want based on my characters or setting, but we evenly split any money earned from your work, and I get final say on all matters of development for other media.’ Gives any prospective fanfic writers the keys to the kingdom, but with the understanding that the original creator gets his due and ultimately decides the future of that creation.

  • May 22, 2013 at 11:07 AM // Reply

    I’m getting bad feelings about this. Not the authors getting paid. Paid is good. But I’ve traveld many a road in the fanfic-verse and it’s not a pretty road. How many more brothers hooking up with sisters stories will now be written? Or brothers with brothers? Or blatent self-insertions? I love that Amazon is thinking outside the box on this, just not sure it will work as intended.
    My 2 cents,
    Melinda

  • This smacks of trying to get ahead of a future E.L.James but without the bother of having to sanitize it from the source material. So let’s for arguments sake say, Jane Doe Writer puts out a fan fic that takes off. People love it and buy the hell out of it. Jane writes another one. Same results. Then Jane thinks, why not take my original characters and do something with them outside this world. How would that work? If Amazon retains copyright, that screams to me, stay away. It looks like Warner Bros and Amazon are hedging their bets that pouring attention into the dark corner of fan fiction will bring them another gold rush like 50 Shades.

    This looks like something that might be fine for hobbyists but I can see amateur authors getting screwed over big time if they use Worlds as a vehicle to help polish their skills. It seems like something that is too good to be true. Are fan-ficcer aware of standard publishing returns? Do they know a fair deal when they see one. If I am getting paid for my work, I’d like it to be on my terms. And someone else retaining the copyright doesn’t sit well with me.

    • If they’re selling on Lulu or anywhere, they’re already violating copyright, and are only getting away with it because nobody has bothered to come down on them like a ton of bricks yet.

  • A few years back I wrote a fan-fiction for the manga/anime series Naruto. I updated with a new chapter every 3 months or so, and people by and large enjoyed it. In the end it acquired roughly 250k ‘hits’ which in my mind was a big deal. Hell some dude even plagiarized it as his own work. Interesting story actually, since I only learned about it when one of his readers accused me of plagiarism.

    So with this past history in mind, I’m a little puzzled about the implications of this. At the moment it is an experiment using a collection of licensed and agreed upon IPs. This is all fine and dandy. But what happens when someone sends a darn good short story based on an IP that isn’t on the list, and Amazon’s eyes turn to dollar signs?

    I always imagine what an asshole would do with this in-road. On one hand it is another means for budding writers to take their first tentative steps into the ‘professional’ zone, but on the other it is a gateway for a rapid Supernatural fan-girl to legitimize her loin-frothing tale of Win-cest should the prose be of an above-average quality. What if the author, the creator of the IP, disagrees with their work but no longer has the clout to close the gate when mutton comes dressed as lamb.

    I think a ‘watch and see’ approach is best at this junction.

  • A couple of quick observations.

    1) The smartest minds in publishing are at Amazon right now.
    2) I have no idea how many people are members of fanfiction.net, but that and other fan fiction sites have a built-in market – Amazon is going to make a killing.
    C) Amazon gets social media. Regular publishing is breathlessly trying to catch up.

  • Good. Now I can write the correct ending to Red Widow. And 666 park avenue. And more Boba Fett schlock romance. This is awesome, and really weird, and when do we all go to court for the heap big law suit?

  • Do not want at all. I’ve been reading and writing fanfiction for over a decade. I’m neck deep in multiple fandoms, all of whom are up in arms today over the idea that we’d even WANT to be paid for our endeavors. It reminds me of the way we commercialize holidays. Fanfiction is not for profit. End of.

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