A couple of years ago, self-publishing was a dirty word.
Okay, okay — it still is. But it’s slowly shaking its negative connotations. People are not only able to publish books that publishers dismiss as inappropriate, but are managing to form stable careers through independent publishing. Criticise Amazon as much as you like, but I believe that KDP has been central to this image change, and I’m willing to bet that a high percentage of fellow writers would agree.
Fan fiction is a similarly ‘dirty’ term. After all, how can something be legitimate if it’s directly based on someone else’s source material? Fan fiction tends to strike the vast majority of people as something of a childish fantasy; a writer’s beginning before moving on to more original ideas.
But some people love writing fan fiction, and Amazon might just have found a way for that hobby to evolve into something else entirely.
Yesterday, Amazon announced Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds is the first major platform that allows writers to publish fan fiction and earn royalties for doing so. Currently, there are only licenses for three ‘worlds’ — Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries — but this is expected to grow in time.
A lot of the initial concerns surrounding Kindle Worlds have been questions of quality. Fan fiction writers, some argue, are yet to learn the true mechanics of writing if they feel they should have to rely on rules established by others to create a story.
However, I think this is largely inaccurate yet staggeringly familiar. It doesn’t seem all that long ago that self-published authors were accused of not really understanding story mechanics, hence their lack of traditional publication. Of course, we know now that this is not true. Sure, self-publishing might be full of slush, but that slush remains unnoticed at the bottom while the real good stuff rises to the top. I expect the case of fan fiction to be somewhat similar — some good material, mostly bad material, but nobody notices the bad material anyway so the good material stands out.
But really, I think that Kindle Worlds is another example of Amazon’s wise business practices. Ultimately, the company is majorly profiting from our ability to be creative. Amazon realises that sometimes, in the case of KDP, quality might be an issue, but it takes those risks for the 20% of great reads out there. Amazon is a business who understands the future, and for that I applaud them.
There are a few concerns, of course. The small print argues that once fan fiction has been published through the Kindle Worlds platform, Amazon are entitled to the rights of that world, with your permission. All that means is they can re-use your world or characters if they want to. Personally, I don’t think this is such a big issue. If you have created a character who is so damn appealing they get Amazon attention, then pat yourself on the back.
Or just use the world in your own original work instead and keep all the copyrights. It’s your choice.
Kindle Worlds will upset some people, but the possibilities it opens for a whole new type of writer are unquestionable. Although the catalogue may currently be limited, as it grows, I look forward to observing the results.
And writing that The Walking Dead episode I’ve always wanted to work on!
Moving swiftly from the world of fan fiction and work of my own, I have a new book coming out over the next couple of days. It’s called The Painting, and I talked about it here. New Release Notification subscribers will be the very first to hear about it, so click here if you fancy being one of the early readers.
Until then, feel free to send me some fan fiction of my work via email. Now that WOULD be flattering…