So I wrote a fanfic that has, to date, way over two million hits.
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.
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.
6. This will hopefully finally teach people to HOLD ONTO THE DERIVATIVE RIGHTS ON EVERYTHING THEY SELL, FOREVER AND EVER AMEN.
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…
Don’t like the way it works? Then write your own stuff. It’s that simple.
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.]