More Thoughts On Kindle Worlds

I know I should be writing about James and his undead friend escaping an exploding haunted dollar store, and I’ll get back to that in a minute, but I was browsing the #KindleWorlds hashtag on Twitter, and I’m finding some thought provoking material.  There’s a lot of crosstalk and chatter, and I’m seeing people reacting to having their preconceptions challenged, which is always interesting.  Initial responses seem to fit into several broad categories.

  • “Fanfic is pathetic and charging money for it is stupid.”  It’s usually not stated quite so baldly, but the attitude is there.  I have no doubt that there are bad examples of fan fiction, but, you know, there is also bad landscape photography and bad folk music and bad Mexican food, which does not imply that no good examples of those arts exist.  Condemning works a priori because of the subject matter or origin is sloppy thinking.
  • “If it’s not porn nobody will want it.”  There is a lot of talk about Amazon posting that they won’t accept pornographic works as part of the program.  This attitude seems to stem from people who read and/or write erotic fan fiction and seem to think that no other kind exists.  To my mind, that’s rather like assuming that photographers who are looking for models must be looking for nude models for porn shoots.  (I live with a photographer, and, yes, there are people who think that.)
  • “Amazon is evil for trying to make money from fans.” There is a very vocal fan fiction community who state in no uncertain terms that fan fiction is done for the love of the art and doing it for pay will ruin it.  Do professional athletes ruin the Lions Club softball games? Despite the worry that having professionally licensed outlets for fan created works will lead to the for-free fan sites being shut down, the reasons that for-free fan sites aren’t shut down now will still apply.  From an economic standpoint, it simply isn’t practical for Amazon to engage in legal battles with every volunteer webmaster out there.
  • “This is a raw deal for writers.”  The terms that seem to be emerging involve Amazon owning the rights to any stories submitted and all characters contained within.  Well, people who have actually done media tie-ins say that is the way that writing works set in someone else’s universe is usually done.  The short answer is that if you build something in another writer’s sandbox, that other writer gets to keep it.
  • “My tinfoil hat is too tight and the voices in my head can’t breathe.”  I mean, seriously, there is some epic crazy out there.  Industrial strength gone. Somebody call the What The Fuck Police, because these guys are off the chain and around the bend.

The best explanation that I have read (and I wish I could cite the source, but I have browsed too many links and now I can’t find it again) is that what Amazon is doing is not monetizing fanfiction so much as crowdsourcing media tie-ins.  There is a submission process and an approval process (how well they work remains to be seen, of course) and the contract seems to echo industry work for hire contracts.

Would I consider submitting a work for Kindle Worlds, given what the terms are likely to be?  I might, actually.  Not with any of the current properties (I don’t watch any of those shows) but I could see myself writing in the world of “Lost Girl” or “Walking Dead”, and I would be willing to create characters and situations that I would relinquish control over, if it was clear that’s what I was doing from the onset.

Okay, enough of this, I need to get back to work on my own world.

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About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in On Promotion, On Publishing, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to More Thoughts On Kindle Worlds

  1. J.A. Romano says:

    That’s a refreshing take on this business. Great post. I actually started my story writing career writing fan-fiction. Looking back on it now, they were quite bad. But it was a start. I eventually started making up my own worlds, and making up new characters. So, I can see why this could provide an opening for a lot of writers that are too timid to make up their own world and go out on a limb.

    But I can also see how… nuts it sounds like to a lot of veteran writers. I think time will tell how all of this will play out.

  2. Dave Higgins says:

    I have a new (to me) thought on this:

    Many writers discover a love of writing while writing fan fiction, before moving on to their own worlds. By offering a market that lets them submit writing they already have, judged on their writing, not their writing and their world creation, Amazon give potentially great writers access to earlier validation of their worth and publishing credits.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      I think so, too. It’s actually very close to how the comic book business has always worked–artists and writers start out doing piecework on other people’s creations, and as they learn their craft they get more opportunities to branch out and take a more active role in the creation of properties.

      • Dave Higgins says:

        I have seen plenty of comparisons to the comic industry in the discussion; however they have all been either (i) this is terrible because it is like the rights grab in comics, or (ii) suck it up you soft writers, comic writers have had to deal with really mercenary publishers for decades.

        I will probably never enter it; however, it is good to read a positive perspective on the industry.

  3. The Hook says:

    Good luck with your world building, Misha.
    Great post, by the way. The internet is endlessly fascinating, isn’t it?

  4. Thumbs on up the ‘Lost Girl’ fan fiction idea.

    A worry that I’ve heard is from indie authors and it deals with the Top 100 Lists. Either Amazon has said so or people aren’t listening, but there’s a worry that original works will be knocked off the Top 100 lists by fan fiction. People think a Top 100 List should be done for fan fiction only like they did with the Free eBooks category. The power and influence of some fan bases like Twilight and Harry Potter have some indie authors scared. I have to admit that I’m a little nervous about that issue too, but I assume they’re going to make a fan fiction category for the lists.

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Well, the same argument could be made by writers of military non-fiction about writers of historical romances, for example. However, from the way that Amazon is launching Kindle Worlds it looks as if it will be kept in its own category and not co-mingled with the general Kindle categories.

      • That’s what I was hoping for. For something like military non-fiction and historical romances there are separate Top 100 lists. Kindle fan fiction can have lists per franchise, I guess. They already have a Stargate category, which I keep thinking would be funny if a non-Stargate book was at the top of.

  5. J.A. Romano says:

    Reblogged this on Writer's Periodical and commented:
    Some great thoughts here on the Kindle Worlds business. Considering my humble beginnings as a fanfiction writer, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of stuff people might write. You can read some of my thoughts in the comments section of Mr. Burnett’s post.

  6. It’s an interesting subject. I assumed that fan fiction always involved super-massively-popular worlds, like Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc … properties already generating tons of money for their creators and corporate overlords, so it’s pretty beggarly of them to whinge and whine about sincerely flattering imitations. As for non super-massively-popular worlds being fan-fiction’ed, that’s the same sort of plagiarism but a matter of scale. My hypocritical sense is that rich people can take it, while for little guys it would just be outright theft. After all, if somebody took one of my worlds, who would really give a shit? People writing fan fiction are pretyt much coattail grabbers, aren’t they? Why grab a short tail that’s going nowhere?

    • MishaBurnett says:

      Actually, not all fan fiction is based on works that did well financially, for example “Firefly” was cancelled in mid-season, but there is a huge amount of “Firefly” fan fiction out there.

      As far as the wealth of the creator is concerned, I don’t see how that’s relevant. Arguments of the form “It’s not theft if the victim is wealthy” seem to me to be based on the same reasoning as “It’s not rape if the victim was promiscuous.” If an act is criminal, then it’s criminal whoever the victim is.

      That being said, there is a lot of disagreement over whether an original work that is based on characters and settings from another original work is, in fact “plagiarism”. It’s a deeper subject than it first appears.

      • of course the wealth is not relevant – it’s only my freely confessed hypocrisy – but when something has reached a kind of popular culture saturation – like Star Wars – it reminds me of Xerox or Kleenex complaining about people using the word. It’s their copyright/trademark but hey, too bad. You were too successful and that’s part of the price.

      • MishaBurnett says:

        Curse you, Tom! Now I’m going to have to write another blog post.

  7. Pingback: Welcome to a guy who’s been a friend for quite a while: mishaburnett | Hey Sweetheart, Get Me Rewrite!

  8. paws4puzzles says:

    My daughter reads and writes a lot of fanfiction, and there’s an awful lot out there, good bad and in between. I also have an adult FB friend who wrote a whole full length novel in the Harry Potter universe (it’s published on Goodreads if anyone’s interested – search for Rowena’s Quill)
    What I’m saying is that I too hate these labels that says because it’s fanfiction it’s trash or porn. Kindle Worlds to my mind is an interesting experiment and I’ll be curious to see how it plays out.

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