Over six months ago Amazon introduced Kindle Worlds, a place for fan fiction writers to publish and get paid for their work. At the time I thought it was pretty revolutionary, and that it would bring mainstream writers who hung around the outskirts unable to be published out into the world of name recognition. It’s easy see why Amazon saw a value in fanfic and it’s easy to see why an avid fanfic writer would gladly be paid for something they are going to do anyway.
How it Works
In a triple deal the original licensor gets royalties, Amazon gets royalties, and the author gets royalties. So everyone wins?? We’ll go with someone wins, but I’m honestly not sure who.
For comparison purposes you should know a self published writer putting up an ebook on amazon can get 70% royalty, keep all rights, set prices, and have control over content.
The policies/guidelines that govern Kindle Worlds is a bit more restrictive. For starters Amazon Publishing acquires all rights to the writers new story – including global publication rights. When you submit your story in a World, you are granting Amazon Publishing an exclusive license to the story and all the original elements you include in that story. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. Amazon will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other’s ideas and elements. Amazon will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you. So if you create a character that resonates with readers and subsequently develops a fan base. The original licensor can take that character, incorporate into their own version of the story, and never compensate you for it. The author does not have the ability to set the price of their story, Amazon Publishing does that. On top of that, the fanfic author only receives 20-35% royalty.
When Kindle Worlds was first announced, only Gossip Girl, the Vampire Diaries, and Pretty Little Liars had agreed to allow their stories to be adapted. Since then Veronica Mars, G.I. Joe and Ravenswood have all been added among others.
Sum it Up
My original thought when I read about Kindle Worlds this was, will fanfic writers deal with all that crap to be published and paid or will they keep doing their own thing in the confines of their nonpaid nonlicensed websites/blogs? I think that this question goes unanswered today because the most voracious of the fanfic universes have not signed deals with amazon to allow their stories to be a part of Kindle Worlds (See: Star Trek, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, etc). So in a sense this isn’t something that is taking over fan fiction as we know it, but maybe adding another level that wasn’t there before.