Amazon announces Kindle Worlds, taking fanfic into the pay’o’sphere

Kindle worlds

Amazon announces Kindle Worlds

In a new move bound to make Amazon lots of $$$$, Amazon has announced Kindle Worlds, a platform where you can sell your fanfic to a discerning audience

Amazon says:

…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 GirlPretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.

The terms & conditions are awesome (not):

Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to the rights holder for the World (we call them World Licensors) and to you. Your standard royalty rate for works of at least 10,000 words will be 35% of net revenue.

Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works (between 5,000 and 10,000 words)… Amazon will pay the royalties for the World Licensor and will pay authors a digital royalty of 20% of net revenue.  The lower royalty for these shorter works is due to significantly higher fixed costs per digital copy (for example, credit-card fees) when prices for the entire class of content will likely be under one dollar.

Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.

There is also some weird seemingly self-contradictory stuff about ‘you’ owning the copyright to your original material while Amazon also owns the license for the length of the copyright and Amazon gives usage rights to your original material to all the other fanfic authors.

Fanfic exists in a world of its own, people share it as they wish. It’s usually free. Hugh Howey encourages people to write and even sell fanfic of his work, which may well have been a precursor to Amazon’s move. There has also been notable fanfic that made $millions: 50 Shades of Grey, for example. Amazon’s move reveals aspirations to own the rights to the next 50 Shades.

Self-publishing is in its infancy. Many authors need to raise their standards, engage independent editors and book designers. Amazon is effectively encouraging the bar to be lowered rather than encouraging quality writing. I understand fanfic can be a great playground for fans or a learning experience, allowing aspiring writers to develop storycraft skills without needing the added burden of world-building. My concern is that Amazon is making a cheap grab for cash that will detrimentally impact upon the publishing industry while it is already in a state of flux.