This is not going to work out. At least, I hope it doesn't. Cleolinda
and Jenny Trout
have alerted me to something that's a really bad
idea, and that is Kindle Worlds. For those of you not inclined to click on either of those links, Kindle Worlds is a new thing where fanfic writers can be paid for their work. Just as long as it falls in the licensed "Worlds" (Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries
, etc.) and doesn't have any of the following: porn, crossovers, "offensive content" ("racial slurs, excessively graphic or violent material, or excessive use of foul language"
) "excessive use of brands," content that violates copyright/trademark/other rights, or books that are a "poor customer experience" (essentially bad writing/summaries/misleading titles).
Now. Why is this a stupid idea? It's in the fine print.
Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.
Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. You will own the copyright to the original, copyrightable elements (such as characters, scenes, and events) that you create and include in your work, and the World Licensor will retain the copyright to all the original elements of the World. 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. This means that your story and all the new elements must stay within the applicable World. We will allow Kindle Worlds authors to build on each other's ideas and elements. 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.
So! Essentially it means this: You submit an amazing, well-written, "page-turning" fanfiction to Kindle Worlds. You get it published. People buy it. Awesome, right? Except, unless you read and understand the legal jargon, you're in for a shock. Because that plot line you wrote? It's not your idea anymore. They can use it. The person who owns whatever fandom (excuse me, "World") that you wrote the fic for can use your idea for themselves.
This is exploitative. Not everyone is going to read the little note about what Amazon Publishing can do with your work once it is submitted. People will see "paid for your fanfic!" and end up getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop.
And what does this mean for the tie-in authors that already get published? I mean, I discovered
fanfiction after I read movie tie-in novels. I used to read the Expanded Universe books for Star Wars
and somehow made it over to the Internet where I found this smörgåsbord of Star Wars
fanfic. And then, in 1998, Fanfiction.net got created and it was the greatest thing I'd ever come across. So what's going to happen to those great tie-in authors if Kindle Worlds actually ends up working? Will they be out of work? *helpless shrug* I don't know.
What I do know is that this is a bad idea.
I write fanfic for fun. When someone reviews my stuff or leaves a comment on it, it makes my day. I don't care if I don't
get reviews or comments, just as long as someone read it and enjoyed it. It is
nice to see a few words of praise (even criticism), because that means that someone enjoyed it enough to put their thoughts down and share them. So, the allure of being paid for writing fanfiction doesn't have the same pull on me as it would other fic writers. I'd rather get the occasional review than get paid once and have my idea taken and used by the people who own the license for the fandom ("World" /sarcasm) that I'm writing in. I'll admit that the idea appealed to me at first, but then I read the "fine print" in the rules and decided that this whole thing is just plain exploitative.
Don't fall for it, fellow fic writers. Just don't.