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 responses to “All Your Fanfiction Belong To Us: What The Fuck Is Kindle Worlds?”
to clarify the above, once you open the door to some, all will come…
I think, so long as there are well-defined conditions in place, this is a win-win situation for all parties.
If you are writing fan-fiction & posting it online to be read, why not have the opportunity to be paid for it? No-one is forcing anyone to buy anything. If the book is rubbish & people don’t like it, then the bad reviews should put off future potential buyers. In which case, it might even encourage the writers to produce better work (this isn’t to say they are bad; some undoubtedly are, but likewise some are probably excellent). And if fan-fiction authors are able to make money from their work, & potentially use it to fund writing their own, original books, then so much the better.
You say that fan-fiction might become “in theory, bigger than the material that spawned it”. It’s a possibility, but it’s not necessarily a probability. It’s surely no more likely than any fan-fiction currently available being more popular than the original. The Twilight/Fifty Shades issue is a good point of comparison. James’ books were rewritten & altered enough from their fan-fiction roots that they ended up as a completely different series. They don’t compete with Twilight (although I assume there is some crossover audience) & as far as I know, few people’s opinions of Twilight are coloured by their views of Fifty Shades. It’s entirely possible that some fan-fiction books will become more popular than their sources, but even if that were to happen, it won’t change those books. They would still be “The Original Series” – which leads on to the subject of canon.
Canon is incredibly vague & means different things to different people. The original author may consider only their books as canon. If it’s a franchise, then whoever is in charge at the time – appointed author, show runner, etc.- can declare it canon. Fans can choose too, which admittedly opens up a grey area, but if that’s the case, then any official label won’t matter anyway (“I know the author said only their books are canon, but I LOVE this fan-fiction so much I’m going to say it’s canon too, & no-one can change my mind!”).
Amazon’s Kindle Worlds page for authors states they will only accept work “inspired by the Worlds we have licensed”. So the original author will have to have either licensed their series directly to Amazon, or have licensed it to a company who has subsequently licensed it to Amazon. Either way, by doing so the author has signalled their approval, or at least acceptance, or derivative works. This is key, I think. The author or the licence holder has to agree to this happening. You won’t find Harry Potter fan-fiction on Kindle Worlds unless J.K. Rowling agrees to it.
Compared to the current fan-fiction situation, Kindle Worlds is if anything better for the original creators as it abides by copyright law.
What people write for fun is their own business, but selling other people’s characters or worlds is another story (unless one has permission). If my characters were kidnapped and forced to perform strange sex acts on aliens or do anything I know they wouldn’t do…I’d have a sudden urge to throw up.
At this point you have to ask what next? I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon tries to hire self-published authors (AKA super cheap ghost writers) to churn out set story lines that Amazon reasons they can sell based on the latest sales figures. Personally, I think Amazon has lost the plot.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Amazon tries to hire self-published authors (AKA super cheap ghost writers) to churn out set story lines that Amazon reasons they can sell based on the latest sales figures.”
Sure; why not? There are many series out there published by the Big 5 that have a house author name but are ghost written. The many Western series (Trailsman, Longarm, etc.) come to mind. Amazon wouldn’t be doing anything super unique were they to follow along.
If fanfic is now licensed, what does that mean for unlicensed fanfic? Are the property owners going to send their legal departments after Fanfiction.net et al? Will the wild horses be corralled and sold for dog food, and if they are uncatchable, will they be shot on sight?
I can’t see people paying for most of the crap that’s out there anyway, but this seems like a net NEGATIVE for the average fanfic author.
This. So Amazon now publishes fic for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries. What does that mean for the fics written for those fandoms over on fanfiction.net? And that’s over 30,000 fanfics for the three combined, btw. Will Amazon’s army of lawyers send out C&D’s to eradicate all that (free) competition to its product? I don’t like this development. Not one bit.
[…] Chuck Wendig–All Your Fanfiction Belong To Us: What The Fuck Is Kindle Worlds? […]
My assumption is that there is some kind of editorial process involved? You can call it Fan Fiction but aren’t they really just developing writers of Media Tie-Ins? That’s what it seems like to me. If they have a herder who can corral all the works, then more power to them. If not… then I’m not interested.
^^This. At least with licensed, work-for-hire media tie-ins, the author gets paid a standard flat fee and gets to sometimes put “NYT bestselling author” (via their WFH for Uncle George or whomever) on the taglines of their other, original, way-underexposed works. Part of me sees this as a way to get cheap, “crowd”-sourced media tie-in fodder while going around WGA. The rights wording seems to suggest that if, f’r’ex, your cool time-travel alt-universe from “Booby Nuthatch” sparks enough interest in the fandom, then Chuck can then cash in the check for optioning the movie rights for Miriam Black’s boobalicious adventure through time, use all your cool time-travel worldbuilding and ideas, and you, dear Chuck-ficcer, get nothing further beyond the few bucks originally shoved up yer Booby Nuthatch.
Which, honestly, because it’s Chuck, it’s kind of okay. We all know if we show up at his house, he’ll make us pancakes and give us beer. But those Gossip Girl people? Ehh, I bet there’s nothing but an old jar of pickles in their fridge.
I’ve been known to write some fan-fic. (DarthAmmonite, if anybody’s curious.) And I also am a moderately successful traditional author, so anybody who wants to start the whole “Why not put that energy into your OWN ORIGINAL STUFF!?!?” concern-trolling can fuck right off, thank you—fan-fic is a thing I write because it is FUN. I write a great deal of my own original stuff, and while I love what I do, it is hard work. Fan-fic put a lot of the deranged joy and whimsy back into writing at times when I was paralyzed by the fact that my ability to produce marketable work was the only thing standing between me and the poverty line.
Once you monetize that, it becomes a job, not a hobby. The glorious feeling that you can have fun because it doesn’t MATTER goes away, because now it does matter. And I’ve monetized too damn many hobbies in my day.
Other people may feel differently. They are welcome to it. This Amazon thing may work great for them!
I’m struck by the number of people who really do write fan fic, though, who are not so keen on this notion….
Honestly, I’d welcome anything that breaks the strange, stranglehold notion of “canon.”
Once upon a time a storytellers took any character or plot and re-shaped it to his interests. They mined new meaning by digging into the nooks and crannies of the tales to express ideas that contrasted to tellings that had come before, or found the bit they loved and re-worked into something new.
Is there a “correct” version of the Greek myths? A canonical telling of King Arthur?
Why not embrace the same playfulness with stories created today? After all, there is NO reality of the stories out there that is sacred — just one telling or another telling in one specific medium or another.
What matters is the *telling* — one story or another. If it engages the audience, great. If not, it goes by te wayside.
What one AUTHOR does with the world and characters is what will define what the world is for that author and for the audience that enjoys the telling of tales the author tells.
That’s my take, at least.
Can I worship at your feet for a bit, please? As someone who enjoys oral storytelling, and seeing a single story told in many different mediums & styles, I get so frustrated when people equate something being written down with it being carved in stone forever more. Sure, sometimes canon has a place, if you’re trying to adhere to a specific vision- but we strangle ourselves creatively and duct tape our imaginations if we think there’s only one True Way for a story to be told.
This is my gut reaction, too.
It’s been done many times over with various classics (deceased authors with works old enough to be legally up for grabs). Off the top of my head:
Hamlet gave way to “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead” – in screenplay form by Tom Stoppard. Likewise with Romeo & Juliet in Shakespeare in Love…
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – book and screenplay.
These new works pay homage, poke fun at classics.
Why not look at fanfic as a sign that a work is an instant classic – to someone? Or at least a promotion of the original on which it is based?
Fascinated. Curious to see how they really make it work. See a lot of legal battles in the future.
I don’t see much difference between this and selling the movie rights to your book. Basically, you’re giving someone else the right to re-imagine your original idea, (and possibly eff it up beyond all recognition) for money. So…I have the same feelings about the two. If you can’t handle someone else putting their dirty paws all over your babies, don’t sell/license the rights. The end.
[…] interesting are Matt Forbeck’s, Jim C. Hines’s, and Chuck Wendig’s views on the matter. I’m sure there will be about a billion others coming out as the day […]
I’m wondering when you’re going to license the Mirriam Black’s world to Amazon so I can get on that Wild West time-travel piece I’ve been dreaming about.
My gut is all hands-on-the-dash and screaming about this thing. It sounds like a blatant reaction to the success of 50 Shades (aka Twilight with the serial numbers filed off) mixed with every scheme that preys on noob writers who just want “an in”. This development is great for the bottom line of businesses like Alloy and Amazon (and any other companies that decide to jump on in), but it sucks for the writers involved. Yes, right now, the Alloy properties are ghost-written/work-for-hire etc, but what if Tor or Random House gets on the bus with this? Will authors have to start competing against their own non-canon fanfic? (Twilight and 50 Shades excluded because dude…) What about self-published material and Amazon’s reach there? Will Amazon basically become a sweat shop with aspiring writers lining up to be exploited?
This makes me squeamish on the surface and the deeper I dig, the more I wonder what comes next and what precedents this will set for the future.
“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.”
Has someone written this? If yes, please send it to me IMMEDIATELY.
You’re welcome on my ship. Your candyass travesties of vampiredom are not.
[…] Wendig is also wondering things aloud: That’s a pretty serious shift in authorship and […]
This makes my head hurt thinking about it. I mean, I like the idea… and obviously there’s a market for it. But I just don’t even know what to think about what this means for the future. Cool things maybe? Or it could be bad. Very bad. I’ve seen some of the depths of what fanfiction has to offer and I’m not sure that’s fit for commercial consumption. Or any consumption really. Ever.
Amazon? NOT a good thing. And the repercussions from this kind of wanting to get their fingers into everyone’s cookie jar can NOT wind up being a good thing for authors. Scary.
Awesome post. Awesome comments. Mind-exploding move on Amazon’s part.
A small addition to all the other ideas here: as a writer and a fanfic fan (fanficfan?), I’m having a bizarre internal conflict about this. The writer-self feels vaguely horrified and slightly nauseated, as one comment-er said, and the fan-self is indulging in a big belly laugh. However…I think the fan has the winning hand, here. I have a feeling that the reason my writer-self feels a little horrified is that I’m laboring under the delusion that I have any kind of control over my creations.
Really, the only control I have is financial. I get paid (hopefully) for what I create, and I can stop others from riding on my coattails and getting paid for the same thing.
What I do NOT, and hopefully never will, have control over is what a person thinks or imagines about what I create. Whether that is in the privacy of someone’s mind, or posted all over the interwebs for others to read, I have zero say in what someone else imagines – until someone builds an Ursula LeGuin-esque machine that controls thoughts and dreams, that is (and please don’t build that. EVER. Thanks.)
Kindle Worlds doesn’t change any of that.
I can still prevent people from getting paid by not licensing my stuff, and I still can’t stop them from turning one of my beloved characters into a space-going-alien-fighting-sex-starved dominatrix. Or whatever. That is, if I’m lucky enough (as Chuck said) to create something so popular that people actually want to write fanfic about it.
I wonder if what this will do is change the terms of what makes something canon. If money is no longer the legitimizing factor, will is just be the author’s name? In other words, if the original author writes it, it’s canon. Period. That would actually be a really good thing, I think.
Oh yeah, and if Amazon isn’t allowing smut, this might be a non-starter.
Finally, what’s the word on how the licensing actually works? IS it really entirely up to the author, or can the author be overridden by publishers, etc?
Sounds like there’s a vetting process in place. It’s not just write, submit, sell. There’s some sort of oversight of the submissions.
[…] For the former: Kindle Worlds, in short, is an attempt to monetize fan fiction. You can now submit fan fiction for certain properties, and Amazon will sell them. Which differs from the old approach in that they split the royalties with the FF authors now, instead of burning their children alive to appease Ip, the furious god of Intellectual Property. If you want to read opinions about the news from relevant, smarter, and altogether more attractive individuals, check out Scalzi’s commentary on Whatever and Wendig’s piece on Terribleminds. […]
I have a couple of not necessarily related thoughts:
1) Having a cloud of non-canonical works mixed with canonical works has been done before, successfully. Anyone else remember reading all the Star Trek novels? As much as we *wanted* John M. Ford’s vision of the Klingons to be The One True Klingon, we all knew that wasn’t going to be the case. And yet, it didn’t keep us from liking the book *or* the shows or the next generations of tie-in novels that based off of the new normal.
2) I’m not convinced *authors* are getting the payments here, given the deal is between Amazon and Alloy, yes? This really feels like it’s a way to let media companies muck around in the grey area between tie-ins and fanfic and generate additional revenue with little up-front cost or risk.
I can see a savvy author stating that a fan could write fan-fiction *within* their world, but not use any major characters (example: Jim Butcher gives the okay on me writing a piece about what’s going on in New York City within his “Dresden Files” universe, as opposed to the series’ main location of Chicago, etc.). A sort Lovecraft-style circle of authors could eventually form organically, expanding the depth and breadth of the setting in more ways than one person banging their head against a keyboard all on their lonesome could, *plus* if the fanfic writer is good, it might be a good way for a new author to get their foot in the door by writing in an established universe.
Exactly that. If the author get a say and it’s not just up to the publishing company they’re with. This may make having an agent even more valuable in the near future. I can see letting people play in the world I created, but my characters are mine. They’re part of MY story arc. And I may not want them involved in some sort of crazy orgy in the sand wastes of Pronus while they’re supposed to be in the middle of saving the kingdom of Alzor. Use my setting. Use your OWN characters for that orgy, thanks. I think if the author gets to decide, then that will be just fine. But I fear that’s not going to be the case.
And I’ve noticed others mentioning the pay to those selling the rights. Well…that will be the publisher. I’ll be surprised if the author even gets asked or sees any royalties from it.
I mentioned earlier, I also hope the author is asked what can and cannot be published. I can see sales hurt because someone picked up some porn fan-fic and believes that all other works in that setting will be the same. I write romance by another name, which is a non-issue, but I will also be writing YA stuff and adult works with no lurid sex. I might not want some of the things I’ve seen out there in those settings at all because it may be associated with my work by anyone who may pick up a fan-fic work and think that everything in that setting is the same way.
I could be just paranoid, but then again, sometimes they really are out to get you. 😉
“I could be just paranoid, but then again, sometimes they really are out to get you.”
Some call it paranoia, others call it taking into account all the possibilities. As I said: I think a savvy author could use this to not only expand the scope of their own brand, but also help budding authors get a foot in the door and get their names known.
Personally, if I were the primary author in such a situation, I’d be more than happy to give worldbuilding secrets, etc., not intimately tied to the narrative arc of the series that I’m working on within that setting. *Maybe* if the fanfic author shows that their worthy of the trust and they have the skill, giving some foreshadow-y stuff for them to slip into their works. But, yeah: the scenario sounds like it’s a room full of eggshells, and egos and naivete will have to be left at the door if the endeavor will be anywhere close to “successful”.
Heck, Thieves’ World sort of started as just a bunch of writers getting together in a common world setting and writing their own characters with specific ground rules about using the characters of the other authors. If it ends up being like that, I’m all for it. My biggest concern is that the author will get little to no say in what the publisher allows. And little to no royalties on their IP.
True. So, something like this might be good with an established author who’s self-published the particular IP or an up-and-coming self-publisher who has an interested fan-base.
Yeah. I think this sort of platform would be tailor made for something like that. And it would be something I’d definitely get behind. A number of people writing in an established setting, all getting a cut for their contributions to the world as a whole… I’m sensing a disturbance in the Force. Or at least a possible experiment with this platform in the unforeseen future…
Whatever else we say, I’m sure we can all agree this is far better than their used e-books idea.
I don’t follow the “I paid money for it, there for it’s canon” logic I doubt most readers would but that may be because I’ve read far too manly official AU manga and comic books for that, some stories just aren’t going to co-exist even if they use the same characters, settings and devices.
I’ve been reading and writing fanfiction for years and let me just say, the fact they will not allow smut is the condemning factor here. By not allowing smut, they are almost guaranteeing the failure of this concept.
Also, I believe it would be important to notice that if authors are being paid to write it, people will be paying for the story (duh!) However, why would anyone go and pay for a story they can read for free? I know very few authors who post their work on one site and one site alone. We have an open marriage with our forums (or we’re just forum whores, however you’d like to put it). This idea of providing a place for authors to be paid for their work is all well and good, but who’s going to buy it?
I can’t see this being a successful idea for Amazon or anyone else. In fanfiction, we’re all but famous for our porn. Our free porn. When 50 Shades came out, the rest of the world was astonished that such material would be published. The fandoms just scoffed that people would pay for it.
lol truth 🙂 But I’d not write them off just yet – they may still allow titillation, and that can keep people going a while.
Heh, I said ‘tit’.
There’s more to fanfic than smut and porn. I’d gladly pay for fanfic through Kindle Worlds based on settings, television shows, etc. that read and felt like another episode or chapter of that intellectual property. For instance, Star Trek, Star Wars, that doesn’t involve smut that’s beyond the level the IP normally provides its customers.
Thanks for the link! I did delve a little more into the legality issues. It’s still murky, though. Especially this: “We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.”
There’s nothing sinister or murky about it. That’s a standard for doing fiction in a licensed setting. Absolutely normal.
As I put it in another comment: “You play in somebody else’s sandbox, they get to use the castle you built.”
Fair enough. It doesn’t seem sinister, just a bit murky. But the sandbox metaphor works 🙂 Honestly, I’m really intrigued by this, and looking forward to seeing what comes out of it.
“Especially this: “We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.”
YEAH! That no further compensation? Sure doesn’t sound like they plan on taking care of writers now does it?
[…] Chuck Wendig asks questions about the affect that this will have on distinctions of canon, and who will ultimately have the power over authorship and authenticity. Who has the power over the material in this relationship and how does that change the space in which the story operates? Wendig doesn’t have the answers, but he does explode the internet, so that’s fun. […]
I’m trying to understand this from inside the fanfic community, of which I’m not longer a member, but still — why would you pay for fanfiction if you can and do get it for free? So this new development is definitely riding the coattails of 50 Shades, and potentially could be used to shut down regular, free fanfiction (which some people have wanted to do for a long time). I have no problems with authors licensing their work, but it all seems very bottom line cynical and pulp.
[…] on his NSFW-language writing blog Terrible Minds. Wendig's take focuses on issues of "authorship and authenticity" when money enters into the equation: The weird thing is what happens to that comfortable […]
I don’t know if this will ever extend beyond these manufactured properties. It’s really just another way to monetise something that was always about money before creativity anyway.
I prefer continuity, because it affords the option to include retroactive or alternate continuity streams within the same property and not get anyone upset. See: Marvel’s Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, etc. Or: DC’s Elseworlds one-shots. Describe fan-fic as alt-continuity and you extend it legitimacy within the property while maintaining the mainstream continuity for those who are sticklers.
Lampshaded, by the way, by JJ Abrams for his Trek movies, because they are entirely retroactive continuity stories set in the exact same property.
Also, this — not specific to Amazon, but to the issues of sharing worlds and characters as a notion.
We’re raised these days to be knee-jerk protective of ideas. (The legal system in place demands it, I understand.)
But here’s an interesting article that suggests that Lovecraft and his work are still remembered because, in part, he was “the first author to create an open-source fictional universe.”
I think there are some notions in the article worth considering here:
On the one hand, the idea intrigues me because I am an avid fanfiction reader/writer and I have a teeny tiny following on ff.net and it would be kinda cool if I could get paid for all my dorky fanfics.
However, this raises a troubling new batch of questions.
1) Does this mean fanfiction.net will start having changes? I.e. forcing us to pay to read fics? Making us get permission from the original author rather than just having a disclaimer? It’s not uncommon that if this thing gets big, they’ll want a piece of the pie too in order to not get run out of the business.
2) Why would people actually pay for fics that are non-canonical when they can just read them elsewhere for free? I mean, about 80% of all fanfiction is absolute shit. I would NEVER pay for it and that’s what makes it so worthwhile when you finally track down a fic that is well written and in character and you love it. It creates the problem that we deal with when we buy books online and wait to get them–if the book sucks and we paid for it, we get angry. If it’s free, hey, no skin off our backs. That’s one of the pitfalls of the digital age, if you ask me. In a bookstore, you’re usually free to read a good 1-10 chapters of something, realize if you like it or not, and then purchase it. You’re saving money and ensuring the quality of what you buy. That’s not so with e-books. Sure, you get a preview, but there’s no telling if you’re gonna like it as a whole or not and not all books have previews.
3) Does paid fanfiction diminish free fanfiction? Does it raise the standards of the average fanfic? Because fanfiction is so huge because anyone can open a blank Microsoft Word document and poop all over it and post it. Granted, technically, you can do the same thing with self-published novels and books, but there are length limits that usually get rid of the truly lazy folks who don’t care what they put out. Fanfiction has a lot more freedom and less rules so trying to make a profit off of it makes me uncomfortable, initially anyway.
Those are just my rambling thoughts on the matter. I’ll just keep an eye on this thing and see where it leads. Because, seriously, if I could get paid for my fics, I’d be a happy gal. Mama’s got bills to pay, y’all.
Wow. And the Internet exploded.
Okay, look, if you want to tear your hair out over the deplorable state of things for authors, that boat sailed some time ago. IIRC, freelance/work-for-hire rates are about where they were in Lovecraft’s day, NOT adjusted for inflation. Self-publishing and trad publishing both have serious perils for the writer and plentiful opportunities to end up royally borked, particularly if you’re not already a bestseller. And our models for taking advantage of the wide-distribution/easy-piracy tradeoff of the Internet still need some debugging, to put it kindly.
Fan fiction, whether you love it or hate it or write it or refuse to admit you’ve heard of it, is a fact of life. You may as well bring suit against the law of gravity. When you put a work out there, if it doesn’t suck (and, amazingly, sometimes even if it DOES suck), readers are going to engage with it emotionally and imaginatively. That’s what you WANT. Some of them will find your creation a playground for their creativity. (Personally, my benchmark for success as an author is ‘the day I find people making pr0n of my characters doing things my innocent ganglia cannot conceive.’ 😉 You cannot control what people will do in their heads with your work; you can’t control what they write on paper or type into a computer. They will do these things, because what you created has taken on a life of its own, independent of you. Woot. As long as other people aren’t impeding your ability to make money off your work, or misrepresenting whose work is whose (which is what copyright exists to prevent), I don’t see a problem.
Can sanctioned, paid fanfiction work? In *theory* I don’t see why not. Authors have put their settings out for licensed shared-world work before. They set the terms. Licensees comply. Everybody gets their cut. Doujinshi (semi-sanctioned) are a huge thing in Japan, and don’t appear to have killed manga. As a rule, I think readers are capable of noting the name on the front of the book and figuring out whether it’s the original author or not, particularly if fanfic is under a separate imprint that marks it as ‘non-canonical’ (for whatever that’s worth). This is going to be super duper true of the main market for fanfic, I’d think.
However, it’s also totally possible that this will wind up being effed up on one or more axes, and go FOOM. I’m sort of grateful to these properties and Amazon for being willing to serve as guinea pigs (mine canaries?) for the rest of us.
Anyway, I’ll wait to tear my hair out till I hear that something bad’s actually happened to someone, because if I didn’t, I’d have gone bald years ago.
From the blurbs and press release etc it seems that amazon won’t be editing, just saying yay or nay…if this is true, this is all kinds of horrible waiting to happen. If they will set aside manpower to properly edit, it might be better.
But there will likely be legal issues, and anyone hopping on this oh-so shiny and faintly smelly train should read liability parts of the contract reeeeeeeally closely!
Be afraid. Be very afraid…
Whoa, whoa, whoa! What a massive freak-out. Let’s take it down to the speed limit here.
Kindle Worlds is not going to be a free-for-all; writers won’t be self-publishing the same kind of stuff you see on fanfic.net. They might try, but they’ll fail. Or maybe they will succeed, as long as what they write is properly vetted, and it conforms with Amazon’s stringent guidelines. And hey, good luck with that, happy fanfic writers. It’s going to be much harder than they think.
This really isn’t “fanfic” anyway; the books Kindle Worlds will curate are *derivative* works, and it takes a legal and logical mind to spot the differences between the two. Amazon just signed up for one big massive headache.
Amazon… Business Genius.
The content guidelines for the Kindle Worlds make for interesting reading.
‘Content Guidelines for Kindle Worlds
Pornography: We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.
Offensive Content: We don’t accept offensive content, including but not limited to racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language.
Illegal and Infringing Content: We take violations of laws and proprietary rights very seriously. It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.
Poor Customer Experience: We don’t accept books that provide a poor customer experience. Examples include poorly formatted books and books with misleading titles, cover art, or product descriptions. We reserve the right to determine whether content provides a poor customer experience.
Excessive Use of Brands: We don’t accept the excessive use of brand names or the inclusion of brand names for paid advertising or promotion.
Crossover: No crossovers from other Worlds are permitted, meaning your work may not include elements of any copyright-protected book, movie, or other property outside of the elements of this World.’
Re: poor customer experience, does this mean they will determine this BEFORE publication or after, if the story gets poor reviews? The wording seems to imply this ‘process’ takes place before publication. Who is the ‘WE’? Editors contracted by Amazon? Authors who own the Worlds? Their agents? Their publishers?
If they’ll put a story AFTER publication, what are the criteria? Total number of reviews, max number of negative reviews, min number of 3 star reviews and above?
Re: Excessive Use of Brands, what’s excessive? So, you’re allowed to mention it, like, once on your blog/facebook/twitter/insert social-media-platform-of-interest but probably not put a billboard sign above your house proclaiming your achievement to all and sundry?
And re: Crossover, it sure looks like Spike and Angel won’t be going anywhere fast with the Serenity man!
Like daylight2nite says, only time will tell how this one pans out…
[…] post about how apparently Amazon is going to be licensing fanfic and thus selling it. You can read his post here and read directly about Kindle […]
I’m not sure what the benefit is here.
There’s already a thriving fanfic community out there. Is there something wrong with it? Is it not working? That is: what’s the problem this move is trying to solve?
The answer, the cynical part of me thinks, is that the current model does not allow Big Corp to monetise this. That is, all the people doing Good Works ™ on fanfic are doing it for the love, but Warner (or whomever) aren’t seeing a red cent from that. I suspect they’re pissed off at that, and came up with this great idea to get more coins for no work.
I guess I’m negative because I see no real benefits except to the corporate IP holder, and some possible negatives (e.g., what happens if Warner or Amazon lawyer up against “independent” fanfic sites?). It really is a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist.
HA. This? Is really just a non-starter of an idea. First – fanfic is free already, and i won’t be paying for it. Plus – those are pretty small fandoms, there’s not going to be much traffic, especially when they don’t ‘allow’ crossovers and fusions.
Second – fanfic *isn’t* actually legal. It’s a huge grey area, particularly if you try to make money off it.
Third – they own what I write forever and ever? And might mine my original characters, etc., for ideas and never give me any credit? Hell no.
Last – but not least – fanfic without porn is…well. It exists – there’s gen fic out there. But it’s a small niche, not a popular ‘thing’.
I don’t see this going anywhere, to be honest.
I’m still considering the implications from this.
In the fanfic world, stealing others’ stories to repost under a different title on FF.net or other sites is a regular issue. How will Amazon know that the submitted fic was written by the person sending it? I can see a bunch of unscrupulous readers merrily copying and pasting.
I remember spending my teenage years writing fan fic at fictionpress.com and fanfiction.com.
Are you telling us those days are over? :'(
[…] or acknowledgement for anything we were doing was that we got to do whatever the heck we wanted. (Chuck Wendig and Malinda Lo have a lot of thoughts on this. Check them […]
[…] All Your Fanfiction Belong To Us: What The Fuck Is Kindle Worlds? bei terribleminds […]
[…] at terribleminds.com, there is a somewhat similar post, which is how I first heard of this. Apart from being about as ‘whoa the world is on […]
Personally, I don’t get all the rage-boners that have sprung up all over the Internet over this news.
If DC hired you to write a Batman story, you would write that story under a work-for-hire agreement. That means you would not hold onto the publication rights. Instead, DC would get those rights. And if you created a new villain named the Gerbil for Batman to fight, you would no longer own the rights to the Gerbil and you would not be entitled to royalties from other stories featuring the Gerbil that you didn’t write. Now, you can argue that the traditional work-for-hire system is unfair to writers, but that’s a larger issue that goes beyond Kindle Worlds. They’re basically playing with the same rules that have already been established.
So far, this seems pretty standard to me. 35% royalty is not that bad. If you write an original book and publish it on Kindle, you get 70% royalties on your original work but only if it’s priced in a certain range. So if you wanted to give your book away for $0.99, Amazon would only give you 35% royalties. And in some markets, you only get 35% unless you publish the book through KDP Select and make it Kindle exclusive (I know that’s the case with India, for example).
The main difference here seems to be there’s no advance payment.
But I don’t think this is going to spell the death of free fanfic. For one, not every rights-holder is going to want to sign up for this. Second, Amazon isn’t setting up their own version of fanfiction.net where anyone can create an account and get their stuff published instantly. It does look like there’s going to be some sort of review process for submitted material before it’s published. Third, if they did start rounding up fanfiction writers who didn’t participate, it’d be a public relations nightmare. Not to mention a logistical one. Copyright holders have enough trouble dealing with piracy, adding fanfic into that category would make it impossible. Free fanfic isn’t going anywhere, and maybe this could give some unknown authors a chance to gain more recognition.
[…] Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds tries to get his head around Amazon’s Kindle Worlds. Wendig ponders the issues of commercial fan-fiction and the legitimisation of non-cannonical work, which is arguably a timely discussion for erotic fiction given that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as fan fiction and Total-E-Bound’s Clandestine Classics re-imagines literary classics with added erotica. […]
[…] Chuck Wendig at Terrible Minds tries to get his head around Amazon’s Kindle Worlds. Wendig ponders the issues of commercial fan-fiction and the legitimisation of non-cannonical work, which is arguably a timely discussion for erotic fiction given that Fifty Shades of Grey started out as fan fiction and Total-E-Bound’s Clandestine Classics re-imagines literary classics with added erotica. […]
[…] Amazon… what are you doing? […]
[…] THIS NOTION OF fan-fiction for pay. Do not want. Hot topic of discussion all over the place. But for a different reason than I think most people […]
What Amazon is doing is the total opposite of what Fan-Fiction is. Nuff said.