What They're Saying About Fanfic-for-Profit

So I wrote a fanfic that has, to date, way over two million hits.

fan fiction

The Guardian* used this image without attribution to the fan artist. Irony intended or not?

I like fanfic. But the whole “Amazon is going to publish fanfic for a profit” news last week was at first glance, gobsmacking. It won’t impact me or anything I wrote, because I did not write in a fandom that has a deal with Amazon, nor will it likely ever have a deal with Amazon, and in the unlikely situation where something like that panned out, my own flights of fancy went in directions unlikely to ever get the copyright-owners public seal of approval, so I don’t have a dog in this hunt.

But as it was quickly noted, so far the only participants are television shows. They have a vested interest in building viewership and encouraging fan participation, and making money from the licensing thereof. They already do this. The arena–fanfic–is new. Licensing the use of their universes and characters for a profit is not.

It will be interesting to see if any authors join in.

If this is all new to you and you wonder, what is this thing, fanfic? As we know it, it started with Star Trek. Once the show was cancelled, fans couldn’t let go. They started writing their own stories and sharing them through the mail. And almost immediately those stories included things that didn’t make it onto a television screen, whether it was sexual content or non-canon relationships or “What if Captain Kirk was Kirk Douglas’s illegitimate son?” or … wherever the imagination took the writers. Fanfic is not always about sex or about non-canon relationships, but it often is. But most importantly, it’s people who love a universe and characters they need to tell and read more stories about it than are already told, people who want to keep telling and reading stories about it long after the official story is told. It’s legality is, if you’ll excuse me, 50 shades of grey. But it exists. And that’s why we are where we are today.

For those of you who are interested, here are some links to various discussions about the subject. Don’t forget to read comments.

John Scalzi

Another red flag:


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


Which is to say, once Amazon has it, they have the right to do
anything they want with it, including possibly using it in anthologies
or selling it other languages, etc, without paying the author anything
else for it, ever. Again, an excellent deal for Amazon; a less than excellent deal for the actual writer.

Laura Anne Gilman

6. This will hopefully finally teach people to HOLD ONTO THE DERIVATIVE RIGHTS ON EVERYTHING THEY SELL, FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.

Matt Forbeck

As a writer, it feels like splitting the royalty on the book with the
owners, which seems fair. Standard royalties on work-for-hire tie-in
novels range from 8% all the way down to nada. Of course, those
contracts come with an advance, which Kindle Worlds (like all
self-published Kindle books) doesn’t offer.


There are some catches…

Steven Harper Piziks

 Don’t like the way it works? Then write your own stuff. It’s that simple.

And finally…

*The Guardian

Amazon selling fanfic may sound a great idea, but the whole point of these stories is they go where the powers that be won’t. [See image above.]

 

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3 Comments

Filed under Writers, Writing

3 responses to “What They're Saying About Fanfic-for-Profit

  1. Denise

    Interesting.

  2. I agree– this is an interesting development. I’ve done couple of blogs regarding fanfic (primarily of the adult variety), in response to the “50 Shades” phenomenon.

    One in particular:

    http://passionatereads.com/2012/07/29/adult-fanfiction-fantasy-on-roids/

    …discusses “Harry Potty” fanfic however, I found a related video from “The Idea Channel” that was quite enlightening. It is embedded in the blog noted above for anyone who is interested.

    FanFic is nothing new and the Idea Channel clip cites “Sherlock Holmes” as being the first of many fanfic generated stories and books to gain popular notoriety and published as legitimate works. Star WARS is cited as “the mother lode” of all fanfics, which should be interesting if Disney takes over the movie franchise.

    On the various fanfic sites I visited in doing research, the numbers were staggering with regards to what was written and the number of hits they had.

    The “Harry Potter” related fanfic was so large, it was, in many cases, separated from “books” altogether and given its own category.

    As you noted, and from what I can ascertain from the Amazon links, their “Kindle Worlds” is limited to just 3 TV shows at this time.

    It will be interesting to see what happens with it, but a first glance, it seems like a good deal for the franchise owners as well as Amazon, AND the authors might make a few bucks as well if it takes off.

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