Last week, Amazon announced Kindle Worlds, a new imprint and store allowing anyone to publish fan fiction, and earn money from it. The Amazon royalty rate of 35% of the sale price will be used and writers paid monthly. A proportion of proceeds will also be paid to the original licence holder.
Amazon has been able to do this through an agreement with Warner Bros, licensing Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries as three different ‘Worlds’. Writers can pick a world, then write fan fiction using the characters and settings as per the original text.
But what is Kindle Worlds doing to the world of fan fiction?
Once the realm of dedicated genre sites, and shared among friends, Amazon is making fan fic a money-making opportunity. Through Kindle Worlds, anyone can become a published fan fic author. Licensing is already done for you, so you are free to use the characters from the licensed ‘Worlds’. But yet, the publishing industry has been rather silent on the issue, and a quiet discontent is circulating among some fans.
No one is questioning the legitimacy of fan fic – it’s an intriguing way to share ideas and has been around for ages. Even some established writers of original works cite fan fic as a way of learning writing, and good opportunities to get feedback.
But when Kindle Worlds start, how easy would it to find a good fan fic read? And importantly, are we ready to pay for fan fic?
The e-book revolution has already made it much easier for authors to publish their works, either through a digital only publisher, or self-publishing. The problem for fan fic, is that fan fic isn’t “just another genre”. Yet.
We read fan fic out of love or interest for a particular story series. We write fan fic because we are equally obsessed with it. Adding money into the factor arguably diminishes the source of this passion. Reading fan fiction is not like buying the next sequel, it’s finding out what others (maybe on the other side of the world) have imagined about the same story and connecting with them. Or even speculating about what could have happened. As lovely as all this sounds, Kindle Worlds might take it all away as people cash in on this unique pastime.