Fifty Shades of Fan Fiction On Amazon
Posted on May 23, 2013
Hugh Howey, author of the bestselling book Wool and one of the first independent authors to get a hybrid print-only deal, announced on a message board today that Amazon has created a system for authors of fan fiction to publish their work through Kindle Worlds.
As of right now according to their website, “…Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.” Taking such a bold step to support fan fiction may open up doors to authors as they increase obtained licenses as well as become lucrative for Amazon.
It’s no surprise that Howey shows excitement for the idea. On his own fan fiction webpage, he shows full support for writers who have based their own books in his silo world from Wool. He shows an enormous amount of support for the concept in his own blog support of fan fiction. Howey cites two major advantages to encouraging fan fiction, the first being more encouragement for people to write and the second is to get more established writers to apply their talent to existing franchises. There are a few favorite franchises that may be elusive in terms of licenses, such as Disney holding the rights to both Star Wars and Marvel.
The fact that Amazon is embracing fan fiction and getting such a huge entertainment group already in on it shows the influence, and possible moneymaker, that it can be. There are many fan fiction sites out there where people can post their stories for free. And there are many books out there that have successful spin offs, EL James’ Fifty Shades being one of the most notorious with its start as a piece of Twilight fan fiction. The fact that the successful series that have their own popular television shows on the CW channel are already available for fan fiction exhibits a willingness from the franchise side. But could that indicate a deeper consequence to submitting to Kindle Worlds?
Author John Scalzi, writer of the semi-fan fiction work Redshirts, posted a balanced look at what Kindle Worlds offers on his blog. Scalzi is one who carefully looks at every aspect of publishing and has been instrumental on getting unfair practices changed in new ventures like the Hydra Imprint. He calls for potential authors to read the terms of publishing carefully, and cites several specific wordings for who holds the license of what’s published. According to him, a writer could get paid the agreed royalty from Amazon, but not get a share in every dollar made from the work.
“So, on one hand it offers people who write fan fiction a chance to get paid for their writing in a way that doesn’t make the rightsholders angry, which is nice for the fan ficcers. On the other hand, as a writer, there are a number of things about the deal Amazon/Alloy are offering that raise red flags for me. Number one among these is this bit:
‘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.’
i.e., that really cool creative idea you put in your story, or that awesome new character you made? If Alloy Entertainment likes it, they can take it and use it for their own purposes without paying you — which is to say they make money off your idea, lots of money, even, and all you get is the knowledge they liked your idea…
Another red flag:
‘Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.’
Which is to say, once Amazon has it, they have the right to do anything they want with it, including possibly using it in anthologies or selling it other languages, etc, without paying the author anything else for it, ever. Again, an excellent deal for Amazon; a less than excellent deal for the actual writer…”
Again, the whole publishing model of Kindle Worlds proves that Amazon is not going to go away or cower from the traditional publishing side. In fact, they’re using their successful self-publishing model to forge new avenues for new and existing authors. Whether or not a writer supports indie publishing, one has to admit that so far in the changing game of publishing, Amazon keeps throwing some major curve balls that you may want to take a swing at. There are going to be reactions both enthusiastic like Howey’s and skeptical like Scalzi’s. But if you’re a writer of fan fiction, you now have a way to get in the game. Publishing remains a spectator sport to watch how new ventures fly or die and how the big publishing houses will react.