Amazon has launched Kindle Worlds, allowing fans to publish and earn money from fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games.
Amazon said in the announcement: “With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group's Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.”
However, many are dubious about Amazon’s latest venture.
The Guardian’s Mathilda Gregory writes that “that royalty offered is a lot less than Amazon's normal cut for other self-published authors who use their own characters. Franchise owners will be getting a chunky cut and authors also won't own the copyright to their ideas. If the owners of the characters you play with produce something similar and earn squillions, you'll apparently have no comeback, it seems.”
She also states that “fan fiction exists to create what the original work is failing to offer” and “doing what's reasonable for the franchise isn't really what fan fiction is about. Fanfic is more, "whatever, franchise, I'm doing this". In fan fiction there are no rules. And here, oh, are there ever going to be rules.”
Similarly, Wired’s Rachel Edidin states “On the surface, it seems like a sweet deal. After years of conflict over the copyright issues and ethical conundrums of non-licensed works, fan writers finally have an official OK to not only write, but possibly profit from their work.”
However, she continues to explain that it could be short lived excitement as numerous clauses in the contract grants Amazon and the licensor rights to the text of the stories and any original elements they might contain.
Amazon, meanwhile, provided dozens of examples of fans pleased by the new initiative, citing Trish Milburn, who wrote in The Vampire Diaries.
She said: "There's probably not an author/fangirl alive who hasn't fantasized about being able to write about her favorite show. The fact that you can earn royalties doing so makes it even better."