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.