Recently, Amazon announced something pretty interesting. A new program called Kindle Worlds is in the works. The basic premise is that Amazon is working on getting the licensing to allow writers working through the program to write their own stories within established stories and worlds. Even more simply is this, Amazon seems to be trying to give a level of legitimacy to fan fiction.
Basic premise of the program is this. The originating company grants Amazon the license to publish stories within a world/series/franchise that they’ve created. People interested in those worlds can submit short stories, novellas or novels to add to the world that they love. If they meet the guidelines set, it gets published. As the stories, novellas or novels are bought, the writers take in royalties (20 percent of net revenue for shorts, 35 percent for pieces that 10,000 words or longer). There are some questionable things (like if the originating company incorporates elements of your story officially into their world, you don’t get paid royalties on the incorporated material), but there are a lot of ways that this can work really well. Either way, if you tend to do fan fiction, 20 or 35 percent of net revenue off of your work is a far better deal than what you’d get otherwise. That is unless your fan fiction is actually a licensed media tie-in story/novel published through more traditional means.
But here’s the thing that my headline means. First for the writer angle, it’s simple. If you’re a starting up writer who produces something and publish it through the program, don’t expect it to make big money for you. It’s possible, but pretty unlikely. However, you will make some money and you will get exposure. By exposure, you will get exposure with the originating company, for example if Konami randomly gave Amazon a license for Silent Hill stories or the BBC did the same thing with Doctor Who, you could end up grabbing the company’s attention. Who knows, if you’re remarkably lucky, the attention you get could lead to doing licensed tie-ins and make big money. However, you’ll have access to an audience because it’s stories, novellas and novels based in something that already has a defined audience. Sure, they can always choose to not buy your story, but hey. The same thing can happen if you’re professionally published and are doing something unrelated to anything else. Since the company also has the ability to incorporate elements into the world they created, the writers can potentially directly affect something they love while also expanding upon it.
Unfortunately, Amazon has only announced three worlds that they gained the licenses for. Those are Pretty Little Liars, Gossip Girls, and The Vampire Diaries. Here’s what I’m hoping for though. More channels, film studios and now game publishers/developers should get in on this. You would still control your own creation, but you can also see what audiences would like to see. It would also give you a growing number of writers to look at for official entries into your world. Here’s some of the licenses I’d personally love to see become a reality: Doctor Who, Batman, a considerable amount of the Marvel stable, Final Fantasy, Deus Ex Castlevania, Metal Gear Solid, and Silent Hill just to name a few. So, yeah. BBC, DC, Marvel, Square Enix and Konami, get in on this – especially Square Enix and Konami. You might find more ways to guide development into more of the stories that the audience wants.