Have you ever wondered how to make a buck from writing fan fiction? Well, Amazon has wondered the same thing. In fact, Amazon has wondered how they could make 65 cents from every buck you could make from writing fan fiction. Unfortunately for Amazon, the rights to fictional worlds have always remained solely with the authors and entertainment companies that create those fictional worlds. But today, Warner Brothers — the production company that owns the rights to Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl — and Amazon announced that they’ve teamed up to let you sell your fan fiction through Amazon’s new “Kindle Worlds” program.
“If only someone in fandom had a really good idea about how to bring you back from the dead.”
Sounds like a dream come true, right? Well, hold your horses there, missy, because there’s some fine print you need to check out. For example:
No “slashfic.” Apparently Amazon intends “slashfic” to mean “porn,” but it’ll be really interesting to see if “slashfic” actually means “gay pairings.”
No sex, yo. Stories have to be rated PG. No nookie. Which, according to the informal poll of AfterEllen writers I took just a second ago, is exactly 87 percent of the fun of fanfic.
Copyright shenanigans. “It is the authors’ responsibility to ensure that their content doesn’t violate laws or copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity, or other rights.” So don’t breach copyright laws by selling something that is already a breach of copyright laws, OK?
No crossovers. So you can forget about Emily Fields finally getting with Santana Lopez because: a) No crack!fic, dudes. And b) Copyright violations!
Amazon and Warner Brothers will own your stuff. Once Amazon publishes your fic, they own it. They can repackage it, republish it, and resell it at their leisure. And so can Warner Brothers. They’ll still have to pay you the 35 percent royalties (if your fic is over 10,000 words), but they can use your exact ideas to create their shows and never pay you for them.
“Tell me about sex-less love on your planet in 10,000 words or more, pls.”
But there’s actually a really exciting element to this announcement as well. I mean, yes, it’s absolutely a money-making venture on the part of some extremely large companies. But it’s also an acknowledgement of the riches of fan culture. Fandoms are full of super talented, super clever, super dedicated people who have such fresh and diverse ideas that TV shows are trying to figure out how to make that passion lucrative. Fandom is creating art that can be monetized. Fandom is a motherfucking powerhouse. And Warner Brothers and Amazon know it.
Additionally, one thing we always lament in lesbian fandom is that writers and producers and showrunners don’t know what to do with lesbian characters. This is definitely an in-road, assuming “slashfic” really only does mean “porn.” And, speaking from experience, publishing fanficiton is actually a really good exercise to improve your writing skills.
Basically, Warner Brothers has noticed fandom is built on top of a gold mine. Warner Brothers owns the gold but fandom owns the land. Amazon would like to mediate the real estate conundrum.
My guess is that Amazon Worlds is going to have to seriously rethink their royalties and copyright strategy if they want fandom’s top-notch writers to participate. And even if they do, it seems highly unlikely that people are suddenly going to start paying for PG-rated fanfiction when they can read zillions of words of uncensored fanfiction for free. Fandom isn’t one to give up its power easily, so it’ll be really interesting to see how this thing plays out.
Would you publish your fanfic with Kindle Worlds? Would you pay to read fanfic about Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, or Gossip Girl?