Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kindle News: Amazon's new "Kindle Worlds" program for fan fiction writers and readers

Forbes's Jeff Bercovici reports on Amazon's new 'Kindle Worlds' commercial "fan fiction" program.

Many of us have run across "fan fic" in which fans of a show write their own versions of what happens with the characters (with readers following those flights of fancy online), usually without permission of the series creators but with the knowledge that these activities tend to increase active interest in a show.

And then there are those who've already published their own Kindle books of 'fan fic' for public domain fiction such as Pride and Prejudice with zombies added, of course.

TechCrunch's Darrell Etherington opines that "The best part is that in this case you don’t even have to be all that creative – the idea is to let fans create stories around original properties from other authors, offering them up for purchase on the Kindle book store."

He adds:
' Fanfic writers can sign up now at the official Amazon Kindle Worlds website, and the company expects to launch the Worlds storefront in June.  There will be over 50 commissioned works included in the store at launch, Amazon says, and then it’ll be launching its self-serve submission platform for all authors to add their own completed works for consideration. '

  Bercovici mentions the purity of this form of 'literary art,' "untainted by commerce." Because someone else owns the intellectual property, it'd be hard to make money from it.

  Amazon's new program will actually allow fanfic writers to publish and profit from "fan-fictional e-books with the blessing of the original characters' creators, who will receive royalties from every sale."

  A win-win for both.
  However, Bercovici writes, "The revenue split is considerably less generous than authors who use their own characters enjoy, with Kindle Worlds writers keeping 35% of the net. That’s for works over 10,000 words; for shorter ones, the rate is an even lower 20%. Ordinarily, writers who self-publish e-books through Amazon keep 70% percent."

  That latter is true if they keep the price $2.99 or less and allow global sales.

Amazon will announce further licensing soon but for now, Kindle Worlds "has licenses covering three franchises owned by Warner Bros. TV’s Alloy Entertainment: “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Gossip Girl.”

  Bercovici points out that, "It’s also a way for Amazon to identify promising undiscovered writers it can sign to its Amazon Publishing book imprint. Established authors have been wary of signing with Amazon after seeing the difficulties that Tim Ferriss and others have had in getting competing retailers to carry their books."

  He sees this really taking off if they can add a good number of the most popular franchises (and gives examples).

  Apparently, sexually explicit materials won't qualify for this -- this seems an unclear area, from what I saw of the varied interpretation by several news sites.

  A commenter, Daniel Nye Griffiths, feels that quite relevant is the Intellectual Property (IP) factor.
  "Any character or story idea used is the property of Alloy Entertainment – so, a Vampire Diaries fan writer might find her character or her storyline appearing in the show.  Which would probably be very exciting, but is also the sort of thing writers are usually paid for…"

Amazon is also piloting an experimental new program with the launch of Kindle Worlds
  This will be for particularly short works—between 5,000 and 10,000 words.  For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World’s rights holder and pay authors a digital royalty of 20%.

  Amazon has been aggressively vigilant recently in connection with Kindle "books" that consist of just one VERY short story, usually priced at $0.99 to $1.99 but with 70% going to the writer of a not-book.  Many customers have been happy about that, and not surprisingly, many authors not as ecstatic over it.

Amazon's press release details what the benefits would be for World Licensors, writers, and readers.

  Philip Patrick, Director, Business Development and Publisher of Kindle Worlds said, "Our goal with Kindle Worlds is to create a home for authors to build on the Worlds we license, and give readers more stories from the Worlds they enjoy..."
  They expect to announce additional World licensing deals in "the coming weeks."

Wall Street Journal's Alexandra Alter reminds us that
' Several fan fiction writers, such as Cassandra Clare, author of the best-selling “Mortal Instruments” series, who used to write Harry Potter fan fiction, and E.L. James, author of “Fifty Shades of Grey,” which began as Twilight fan fiction, have gone on to become blockbuster authors themselves. '

There are limits, of course, to "what authors can do to beloved characters.  Amazon has made it clear that they'll work with licensors "to establish content guidelines that balance flexibility and openness for writers with what’s reasonable for the franchise.”

Personally, I think it's a great idea all around, and those who are not drawn to it don't have to look in that category or genre :-)

  And of course, Amazon then expands its stash of exclusive books that may well be fun for fanfic followers and inexpensive at the same time.

Current Kindle Models, worldwide for reference, plus free-ebook search links.

  NOTES on newer Kindles.
Updated Kindle Fire 2 Basic  7" tablet - $159
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB - $199/$229
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 16/32GB - $269/$299
Kindle Fire HD 8.9" 4G 32/64GB - $399/$499
Kindle NoTouch ("Kindle") - $69/$89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $99
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $119/$139
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi+3G - $179/$199
Kindle Keybd 3G - $139/$159, Free slow web
Kindle DX - $379 $299 Discontinued
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - £69
Kindle Touch WiFi , UK - ~£89 Refurb'd
Kindle Keyboard 3G, UK - £149
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi
Kindle Paperwhite 3G, UK
Kindle Fire 2, UK
Kindle Fire HD 7" 16/32GB, UK
Canada - Kindlestore, CDN-$
Kindle Basic, NoTouch - $79
Kindle Paperwhite, WiFi - $129
Kindle Paperwhite, 3G - $199

*OTHER International*
Kindle NoTouch Basic - $89
Kindle Touch WiFi - $139
Kindle Keybd 3G - $189
  Keybd: w/ Free, slow 3G WEB
Paperwhite WiFi $139, 3G/Wifi $199

France Boutique Kindle
Deutschland - Kindle Store
Italia - Kindle Store
Spain - Tienda Kindle
Brazil - Amazon Brazil
China - Amazon China [?]
Japan - Amazon Japan

Check often: Temporarily-free recently published Kindle books
  Guide to finding Free Kindle books and Sources.  Top 100 free bestsellers.  Liked-books under $1
UK-Only: recently published free books, bestsellers, or £5 Max ones
    Also, UK customers should see the UK store's Top 100 free bestsellers.

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