Well my inbox this morning was stuffed with people telling me how big an announcement this is: Basically, Amazon has licensed Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and Vampire Diaries from WB’s Alloy division, and will allow people to write legal fan fiction based on these properties and sell the result on Kindles. The profits will be split between the writer, WB and Amazon, of course.
Why is this such a game changer? Well, for the first time you’ll be able to make money legally and safely from your fanfic. I’ve reproduced the PR below, as it goes into detail on the royalty spilt and other business detail in a depth unusual for PR. It’s all part of a push for Kindle Worlds, which will sell short — 5000 to 10,000 words — pieces on the Kindle as cheaper “singles.” The service launches with 50 commissioned works, but soon will be open to anyone to submit.
Of course, with WB involved you may be asking yourself if you’ll soon be able to write that Stephanie Brown/Cassandra Cain fanfic you only published on Dreamhost up to now. That’s a tough question. The problem of “brand dilution” is very important to WB and DC’s superhero characters. You’ll note the three properties that were licensed are female-centric and already had a very engaged and passionate fanbase — write your own adventure is perhaps less potentially damaging.
Even more importantly, these three properties are owned and created by Alloy. They aren’t anyone’s special child, and thus no one is getting butt hurt by opening the doors to unvetted writers.
OTOH, crowd sourcing and sharing and social mucking about is the future. As is self epublishing, Fifty Shades of Grey (which began as Twilight fanfic) changed everything. This is also a way for Amazon/Alloy to find hot new writers without even paying an editor.
Speaking of 50 Shades, what about those slash/yaoi and other naughty pairings so prevalent in fanfic? Well, these will still be APPROVED works so…yeah still a gatekeeper.
But if this is a hit, who knows. Maybe there will be licensed Wonder Woman/Birds of Prey/Stephanie Brown fanfic someday. These characters are also company owned corporate brands. It fits into the spirit of female-driven fandom and wouldn’t seem to tarnish brands that WB/DC isn’t really that interested in to begin with.
Game changer? I agree.
Today, Amazon Publishing announces Kindle Worlds, the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for its New York Times best-selling book series Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith; and plans to announce more licenses soon. Through these licenses, Kindle Worlds will allow any writer to publish authorized stories inspired by these popular Worlds and make them available for readers to purchase in the Kindle Store.
Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to both the rights holders of the Worlds and the author. The standard author’s royalty rate (for works of at least 10,000 words) will be 35% of net revenue. As with all titles from Amazon Publishing, Kindle Worlds will base net revenue off of sales price—rather than the lower, industry standard of wholesale price—and royalties will be paid monthly.
In addition, with the launch of Kindle Worlds, Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works—between 5,000 and 10,000 words. For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World’s rights holder and pay authors a digital royalty of 20%.
Beginning today, interested writers are encouraged to visit Kindle Worlds (www.amazon.com/kindleworlds) to learn more and get a head start on writing. In June, the Kindle Worlds store is expected to launch with over 50 commissioned works from authors such as #1 New York Times best-selling author Barbara Freethy, Bram Stoker Award-winner John Everson and RITA Award-winner Colleen Thompson. At that time, the Kindle Worlds self-service submission platform, where any writer can submit completed work, will also open.
World Licensors benefit from Kindle Worlds because:
• It’s an entirely new way to monetize their valuable franchises
• It allows them to extend their Worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans, while also reaching new audiences
• Amazon Publishing will work with them to establish content guidelines that balance flexibility and openness for writers with what’s reasonable for the franchise
“Our books have generated a massive amount of fan fiction, and we see this as an evolution in publishing and a valuable way of broadening our brands and engaging fans,” said Leslie Morgenstein, President Alloy Entertainment. “When working with Amazon Publishing on this scale, we know we’re in good hands and everyone will benefit.”
“Seeing Pretty Little Liars fans adapt and create their own stories is both exciting and flattering and I think what Amazon Publishing is offering through Kindle Worlds is a great way to reward their ingenuity,” said Sara Shepard, author of Pretty Little Liars.
Writers benefit from Kindle Worlds because:
• Amazon Publishing has already secured the necessary licenses to write about any Kindle World
• They can earn royalties writing about established characters and universes
• The Kindle Worlds self-service submission platform is easy to use
“I loved writing the characters in this world, the dynamics of the friendship between the four girls as they deal with life-threatening situations,” said Barbara Freethy, writing in Pretty Little Liars. “I also really enjoy the ongoing mysteries and surprising twists that always keep the reader guessing. It’s great that Amazon Publishing has given those who put passion into fan fiction the opportunity to commercialize this work.”
And readers benefit from Kindle Worlds because:
• They can find a stream of new stories in Worlds they love
• They can discover new Worlds and corresponding great new stories
• As with all Kindle books these are “Buy Once, Read Everywhere”—they can read on Kindle or Kindle Fire as well as with a free Kindle app for all of the most popular devices and platforms
“At Kindle, we’re not only inventing on the hardware and software side of the business, we’re inventing new ways to create books,” said Philip Patrick, Director, Business Development and Publisher of Kindle Worlds. “Our goal with Kindle Worlds is to create a home for authors to build on the Worlds we license, and give readers more stories from the Worlds they enjoy. We look forward to announcing additional World licensing deals in the coming weeks.”
Amazon Publishing is engaged with additional rights holders from different areas of entertainment—books, games, TV, movies and music—and looks forward to announcing future deals soon. To get started writing works in licensed properties, visit www.amazon.com/kindleworlds for submission guidelines and updates on licensed properties
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.