As far as I can remember, fanfiction has been in the sidelines were it was all fun and hobbies. Sometimes not even “real writing.” But now that could be changing, thanks to — who else? — Amazon.
I have to admit I’d never heard of Kindle Worlds until I stumbled by it a few days ago. So, I can’t say how long it’s been around and how popular it’s been, but to me it was definitely news.
What is Kindle Worlds?
It’s a place that turns fanfiction into fiction that you can actually get paid for without having to worry about copyright. This happens through World Licensing — basically Amazon purchases a license for a world (for example The Vampire Diaries) and then fans can write and sell stories based on the world.
To some this might sound awesome. You’ve been writing TVD fanfiction for ages and you can finally get paid for it? Yay!
But here’s the thing: whatever you sell through Kindle Worlds, will no longer be yours to use freely. While you retain the original copyright, you can basically do nothing with your story and its elements. You can’t use them outside of the World and anywhere else than Kindle Worlds. The story, any original characters, plot twists… Everything that’s in your story becomes free material for any fan who wishes to expand on the world even further.
Also, it becomes free material for those who own the World. So it’s possible you write a story so great TVD decides to use it in their series. You get your royalty for every book you sell through Amazon but nothing more.
I can’t quite wrap my head around this World-model. Fanfiction has been walking a thin line between legal and illegal, especially in some places and around some franchises, and this is definitely a step towards more legal. Amazon owns the licence so there’ll be no copyright struggles.
But it does bring limits. Your story must fit certain criteria. Your story won’t be your story for long.
I doubt this model gets all that popular. Some authors for example hate and even forbid fanfiction from their works. Personally I don’t understand this approach, but it does mean that there’ll probably never be a point where fanfiction is generally accepted everywhere.
What could Kindle Worlds mean for the future? Will there be more licenses? Will people think it’s now okay to sell fanfiction and go for it all on their own?
For some, I can definitely see this working. If you got excited, go for it! Still, there will be problems ahead, but maybe something good will pop out too. For writers who are starting out this could be an easier way to try their hand at selling books.
What do you think? Would you use Kindle Worlds?