Sometimes a writer creates a universe so compelling that others feel the need to join and help flesh out that world with their own tribute fiction. And sometimes you make something crappy like Gossip Girl and loads of people want to write using those characters and that world anyway. Now Amazon is introducing a way to let writers profit from their fan fiction, via “Kindle Worlds.”
Worlds joins Kindle Singles and Kindle Serials as a way for authors to earn money from digital publishing, and the best part is that in this case you don’t even have to be all that creative – the idea is to let fans create stories around original properties from other authors, offering them up for purchase on the Kindle book store. Amazon then pays out royalties to both the original rights holder, as well as to the fan fiction author, with the author making around 35 percent of all net revenue for works over 10,000 words.
There’s also a new revenue model aimed at shorter works, which would be between 5,000 and 10,000 words and will typically sell for under a dollar. Under this scheme, the author’s cut will be a digital royalty of 20 percent.
Fanfic writers can sign up now at the official Amazon Kindle Worlds website, and the company expects to launch the Worlds storefront in June. There will be over 50 commissioned works included in the store at launch, Amazon says, and then it’ll be launching its self-serve submission platform for all authors to add their own completed works for consideration.
This is a very shrewd business move on the part of Amazon, since it leverages existing popular properties in a way that would never be possible with just one series author (or even a small list of a few running a title), and since it taps into the existing massive market for fan-created fiction that already exists on the net. Heck, I’ve still got an extremely bad and extremely long Star Wars extended universe manuscript hidden in a closet somewhere. If I can find that, read my childish scrawl well enough to transcribe it, and if Amazon ever secured those rights from Disney, I’d consider throwing it up on Worlds for some easy cash.
Amazon says it’s in the process of securing licensing deals from a variety of sources, including TV, movie, books, games and music properties. The only question I really have about this to be honest is why did this take so long to happen? If you want a near-bottomless supply of written content, fanfic is where it’s at.