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Fan fiction. It’s for fans, by fans, as an homage to the stuff they love. Books, movies, TV shows, if someone loved it, odds are there is fanfic out there about it. I randomly picked a TV show (That 70s show) and then added “fan fiction” in Google. Yep, there it was. Harry Potter, Star Trek, Gone With the Wind… there’s a lot of fan fiction out there, and it’s a thriving community. More than one author started by writing fan fiction, and you see anthologies of established authors writing stories for worlds others created (Pern, Valdemar, Middle Earth…). It’s about a shared passion, and because anyone can do it, sometimes it’s what gives people courage to try writing their first story.
Amazon has decided they want to make money from it. This sounds like a good thing, right? Authors can license their world and characters, and let readers participate in writing stories that take place there. The stories are sold as e-books, and everyone is happy, right? Right? Maybe not.
Here is the official word on it from Amazon:
New stories inspired by books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games people love.
Get ready for Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. 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. The Kindle Worlds Self-Service Submission Platform will launch soon and enable you to submit your original works for publication. Can’t wait to start writing? Learn more on our Kindle Worlds for Authors page. We asked a few authors to try out Kindle Worlds. Here’s what they had to say: “I loved writing the characters in this world, the dynamics of the friendship between the four girls as they deal with life-threatening situations. I also really enjoy the ongoing mysteries and surprising twists that always keep the reader guessing.” —Barbara Freethy, writing in Pretty Little Liars“There’s probably not an author/fangirl alive who hasn’t fantasized about being able to write about her favorite show. The fact that you can earn royalties doing so makes it even better.” —Trish Milburn, writing in The Vampire Diaries“The opportunity to cut loose and play with the wit and voice of a character so unlike those I usually write was a real treat. It pushed me outside my normal comfort zone as a storyteller, and that’s a very valuable experience.” —Joseph Brassey, writing in The Vampire Diaries“I really enjoyed the short format of this work. I’m a novelist. I’m used to writing books that take me months to complete. Writing something start to finish in such a short time was really rewarding.” —Nancy Naigle, writing in Pretty Little Liars“Fun from beginning to end! It was freeing to write something about the show’s characters and world.” —Carolyn Hughey, writing in Gossip Girl“I loved having so many intriguing characters to explore. They’re all unique with so much backstory, yet there’s just enough space to create something new. When I realized I could create my own characters to toy with the others, well, that was icing on the cake.” —A.R. Kahler, writing in The Vampire Diaries
- Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright (you can’t sell the story, or even give it away for free, anywhere else)
- 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. (If it’s a particularly good idea, the author can use your stuff and republish it, and they don’t owe you a dime)
- 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 (aka if E.L James had published her original fanfic with Kindle World, she wouldn’t have been allowed to publish Fifty Shades)
Fan fiction is generally about sharing writing as a community. For free. I’m sure it’s tempting for many to make a little money from what they’re already doing, but keep in mind that this platform comes with a lot of small print, and warnings about copyright infringement. Tread carefully, my friends.