Kindle Worlds, taking fanfiction to a new level.

A lot of has been written about fanfiction and lines have been drawn. Even top tier writers like George RR Martin and Lev Grossman have thrown in their two cents on the matter (George famously against, Lev in favor). I know the world is waiting to hear from me on this matter, so here is my stand… let the reader decide.

book_of_fantasyI think it is funny that publishers and writers feel they can tell readers what’s suitable to read. I think if someone wants to write a story and someone wants to read it, it should be written. Yes, there are some topics I think takes a very deranged mind to write and a sicker mind to enjoy reading, so I ignore them and hope they will go away. What I want to talk about today is fanfiction.

I have never written fanfiction before, I have only read a little, but the idea intrigues me. Having been working for months on my own fantasy story I am finding how hard it is to create a whole new world. I never realized how much we take history for granted. When writing about a culture you need to mention why that culture is the way it is, and usually it is because of their history. When writing your own world you need to create all that history. You have to determine a lot of details about that history that will never actually be told, but is needed to make what is told believeable. So I can see the draw of telling a story in a world that someone else has already created the cultures.

There is also the idea of hearing about what else happens in your favorite worlds. I really enjoyed reading Divergent. After reading all three, and learning about the world Veronica Roth created, it made me wonder what life was like in other cities around her world. If Veronica has finished telling the story she wanted to tell, and now has other worlds to show us, then I would love to read other writers ideas of what was going on in other cities. Frankly, as long as it is done well, I don’t care who writes the story.

Now there is the sticking point. As long as it is done well. A lot of fanfiction sites I have come across have no standard of quality. You have to wade through dozens of poorly written stories in order to find one worth the time to read. So what if authors could open their worlds to writers to explore, but with some level of quality control? Then I found Kindle Worlds (KW), and that is exactly what authors can do.

Now this part will sound like a commercial, but I assure you, I am not being paid or reimbursed in anyway for this. I am speaking as a writer and a reader, and I am hoping you add your thoughts in the comments after reading it.

This is from the Kindle Worlds FAQ:

kindle_worldsWhat is Kindle Worlds?
It’s a new publishing model that allows any writer to create stories inspired by popular books, shows, films, comics, music, and games (what we call Worlds), and sell them on Amazon.com and in a new section of the Kindle Store. Until now, selling stories based on copyright-protected material has been difficult for the vast majority of authors. Amazon Publishing has secured the necessary licenses from select rights holders (we call them World Licensors) that permit you to publish new works inspired by or incorporating their Worlds and earn up to a 35% royalty.

How does Kindle Worlds benefit writers?
Kindle Worlds is a creative community where Worlds grow with each new story. It is a place to be creative and to be inspired by other people’s creativity. You can build on any story or idea you find in a World, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties from every copy sold.

What a great idea. Amazon, through their Kindle brand, has done all the legal work to make it possible for writers to create stories in their favorite worlds, and sell those stories. Now, if you have read a book in one of the licensed worlds and want to tell your own story in that world, you can do it with the blessing of the author and maybe even make some money on it.

So far, KW has licensed the follow worlds for you to write in (listed in order of popularity):

  • The Vampire Diaries
  • Silo Saga
  • Pretty Little Liars
  • The World of Kurt Vonnegut
  • Harbinger
  • John Rain
  • Gossip Girl
  • Wayward Pines
  • The Foreworld Saga
  • Archer & Armstrong
  • Bloodshot
  • Unity
  • Shadowman
  • XO Manowar
  • The Dead Man
  • The Abnorm Chronicles
  • More have been announced for the near future.

As you can see, there is a wide selection of genres available so far and some top selling books are represented. I am intrigued by one of the coming soon titles, GI Joe. Yes, I am a child of the 80s and loved watching GI Joe cartoons and reading GI Joe Comics, I had nearly every possible toy in the line, including the 7 foot long aircraft carrier. I think it would be awesome to tell a story that include some of my favorite heroes from GI Joe.

gijoe

I mentioned before that the authors have a sort of quality control built into KW. This is one of the aspects of KW that really interests me. One of the big complaints about standard fanfiction is that you never know what you’re going to get, as a reader. With KW offering some standards that writers need to meet, readers can be confident that the story has a real chance of being worth their time and money. How do they keep things in check?

Content Guidelines and Review Process

Are there rules for Kindle Worlds stories?
Stories must be relevant to the World you select. A relevant story often includes one or more copyrightable element of that World–things like characters, settings, and events. World Licensors have provided Content Guidelines for each World, and your work must follow them. You should read the Content Guidelines before you commit the time and effort to write, and check them again before you submit your work, in case they’ve changed.

How will my work be reviewed before it is published?
We review every story in Kindle Worlds to ensure that it follows the applicable Content Guidelines. We make sure your story is your own and not copied from another source (including a Kindle Worlds story). We look for anything that creates a poor reading experience (formatting issues, line breaks, etc.). This process typically takes a day or two; if it is going to take longer, we’ll let you know. If we have any questions or feel that your work does not follow the applicable Content Guidelines, we’ll contact you via e-mail. You’ll have a chance to revise your work accordingly. We reserve the right to take down any work after it is published if we become aware of infractions. The rights for any story that is not accepted by Kindle Worlds will remain with the author. In short: let your imagination soar, follow the rules, and we very much expect to publish your story.

So, what do you think? Will KW give some legitimacy to fanfiction? Would you be interested in writing for KW? Would you be interested in reading some stories from KW?

Or are you in the George RR Martin camp and think fanfiction should be outlawed?

If you were to write for KW, what world would you pick? Is there a world not listed that you hope they get access to? Amazon KW asks for suggestions at their Feedback page.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on fanfiction and Kindle Worlds.

Until next time…

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11 thoughts on “Kindle Worlds, taking fanfiction to a new level.

  1. I think it will give some credence to fanfiction, but the legal and financial aspects will always be debated. I think fanfiction done for fun with no financial aspirations is a sign that an author has made it. ‘Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery’ and all that. That being said, I would get irked if someone did a disturbing fanfic on my characters like some of the stuff I’ve seen. That probably stems from a little overprotective behavior on my end.

    1. I think it is the apprehension of someone writing something “disturbing” with your characters that makes KW appealing to an author. In the case of GI Joe, Hasbro will not allow KW to publish any sexually explicit stories involving GI Joe characters. This means no 50 Shades of Cobra.

  2. I’m going to comment on this as a writer:

    I think it’s an awesome idea, especially since it comes with quality control. I’m not interested in writing fanfic personally, but would be super flattered if people wanted to expand on my stories/worlds with their own tales. Isn’t the whole point of being a writer to inspire your audience? If you inspire readers, that’s wonderful. If you inspire WRITERS, then it’s proof you’ve done it right.

    I look at fanfics as free promotion. These fanfic writers are promoting the brand of the series/books. How could this possibly be bad? They might be taking your idea but they are the ones putting in the work and writing the tale, so they should be able to sell it (especially if you’re getting licensing dollars every time they do). It’s hard work writing books. The idea is just the flame that gets you going. Writing it where the work is and I’m not against that work being paid.

    Instead of looking at these fanfic writers as the enemy/thieves, look at them as your army of champions. They are busy keeping up interest in your work through their own. They are busy meeting demand on your behalf that is obviously there.

    Thank you so much for bringing Kindle Words to my attention Mike, I’d not realised it existed.

    1. I am right there with you. I think it would be awesome if one of my stories inspired others to want to write about my world. Like Charles above, I fear someone doing something obscene or disturbing with my characters, and KW gives you some control to make sure that doesn’t happen. Of course, normal fanfiction will still be out there, but at least with KW, an author can tell readers “this story will fit what your used to reading in my world”.

  3. Reblogged this on Strange Writer and commented:
    Have you heard about Kindle Words? You can sell your fanfiction through it. Read this review/debate on Mike’s blog… an interesting proposition! I’ll be keeping an eye on how this develops.

  4. I agree that if it is done right, then go for it.

    One thing I can say is that in my personal world that I created, there is a lot in the background politics and situations that don’t make it to the pages. This is usually because it slows the main story. Sometimes you can’t explain why the Fairies are untrusting of the outside world or why the Ralvins loathe the Malk. It just doesn’t fit jn the story that you are telling.

    Therefore, fan fiction writers wouldn’t have access to that information which may affect how “story true” theirs maybe.

    I hope that I’ve made sense and this didn’t come out like dribble.

    1. That is a great point. With something as vast as GI Joe, or say, Wheel of Time, a lot of information is available. But with Lord of the Rings, a lot of backstory is never revealed.

      I know this will show the analytical in me though, but would readers consider Fanfiction or KW stories to be part of the canon for the original stories? As a reader, I would say no, but I don’t know if everyone would think the same way. I mean, lets say someone wrote a story with your Fairies and then your next book contradicts that fanfiction, does it hurt the experience for the reader?

      Does KW, or the World licensensor, need to make it clear that the KW stories are either accepted as canon or not?

      1. I think it could hurt the reader if what the original author wrote contradicted with what fan fiction wrote.

        I do like all the “safefalls” that KW has put in place. It probably is one of the best options I have seen out there.

        Let’s take Stephanie Meyer for instance. She has said that she isn’t going to write anymore about the Twlight world… Now lets move forward in 10 years and she gets an idea for Reneseme and Jacob. What if in KW there are 8 or 15 fan fiction stories about thier adventures. As a writer would you want to try to honor that exploration since you had said there were going to be no more stories from that world, or would you go with your original path you had laid out for them?

        I know personally, I would want to honor the fan fiction, but I have to honor myself as the original writer of the story.

        There are many things that could go wrong with the fanfiction, but I guess, if KW obtains the permission of the author to allow for fanfiction submissions, then … well, you open yourself up to these potential issues.

      2. I do think that at the beginning and end of each story there should be some kind of disclaimer that states that the story was not written by the original author and that there may be inconsistencies in later writings.

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