Brave new (Kindle) Worlds: the KW store opens

Brave new (Kindle) Worlds: the KW store opens

Ever since I first wrote about Kindle Worlds, I’ve been looking forward to seeing what the actual implementation of this “authorized and compensated fanfic” program was going to be like: how many titles, who was writing them, and how they would do?

Well, Amazon informed me today that

Kindle Worlds

is up and running!

They said they were going to do it this month, and they made it. πŸ™‚

First, I do like the layout. It looks much like other Kindle storefronts, including sidelinks to authors. It also has two sections for the worlds: one for the new Kindle Worlds titles, and one for the canon (the official works).

There are 56 titles as I write this in 5 worlds:

The Vampire Diaries (24)
Pretty Little Liars (11)
The Foreworld Saga (9)
Gossip Girl (5)
Archer & Armstrong (3)
Shadowman (2)
Harbinger (1)
XO Manowar (1)

Let’s take one book as an example first, both because it caught my eye and because…well, it’s the first book you see on the page. πŸ˜‰

The Vampire Diaries: Bound By Blood (Kindle Worlds Novella)
J.R. Rain
414KB (123 pages)
TTS, Lending, X-Ray all enabled

The Amazon bestseller rank right now is 176,939. My guess is that will jump up considerably during the day…could certainly make top 50,000. Rain’s bestselling book in the Kindle store right now is ranked #284 at time of writing.

J.R. Rain is a familiar name to me, as I’m sure is the case with many of you…the author claims to have sold over a million e-books.

The books seem to be priced at $1.99 and $0.99 (although Amazon says that they could price the books up to $3.99, I believe).

It’s interesting to me that there are some well-known/successful authors here (including Barbara Freethy). I’ve seen comments from fanfic authors who are very concerned about the licensing agreement…but it appears to me that people who have been in the “writing business” are less concerned. I suspect that’s because they don’t feel as much like they might just have one chance to hit it big with some special piece of writing. I think the ones who have written commercially have a better sense that there are different types of writing, and different markets. Some things you want to hold just for yourself; some can be sold to other people. Sometimes you play by your own rules; sometimes you play by other people’s. Both can be fun. πŸ™‚

Speaking of authors, I really expected there to be something along the lines of the “bible” that TV series do for the Kindle Worlds. That would describe the characters, tell you about the settings, and so on. It’s a way that TV series keep continuity.

Instead, there doesn’t seem to be much of that. Just a short paragraph (at least in the case of the World I checked), and content guidelines.

There was this

Kindle Worlds blog

which had an interesting Q&A with author Barry Eisler and Philip Patrick (who is listed as the “publisher” of Kindle Worlds).

Here’s the

Kindle Worlds for authors site

That has all the extensive, detailed information for authors, including the content restrictions, licensing, and pay structure.

One tidbit there was that the books won’t initially appear in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but should later.

You also have to be 18 or older to participate, and it’s currently just for people with a “…valid U.S. bank account and social security number or tax identification number”.

There is also a

Kindle Worlds forum

I’ve already responded to a thread there, where the official team is asking for suggestions for other worlds.

This is just the first day, but I really feel like this is one of the most innovative things Amazon has done. It has great benefits for them, of course, in giving them exclusive content with a built-in audience. It’s good for the rightsholders and publishers, because they can both raise awareness of properties and perhaps discover new authors (along with the royalties they’ll get, of course). It’s good for the authors, because it gives them another avenue for revenue and creativity.

I expect some pushback on that last one. πŸ™‚ There could be negatives to this…for example, it might cause publishers to make more assertions of their rights for works outside of the program. I think that, generally, though, you’ll be able to keep writing the uncompensated and freely distributed fanfic that you have in the past, if you want to do that. I fully expect some people to do both: write within Kindle Worlds and still write fanfic outside of it.

It’s going to take more time before we really see how this goes. Do feel free to tell me and my readers what you think now, by commenting on this post. Are you excited to read Kindle Worlds stories? Which Kindle Worlds would you like to see? Would you consider writing one? Why are established writers participating? What are the dangers..and are they different for hobby writers, aspiring writers, and professional ones?

I’m going to keep my eye on this…and yes, if they get a World that appeals to me, I might write in it. πŸ™‚

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in theΒ I Love My Kindle blog.

3 Responses to “Brave new (Kindle) Worlds: the KW store opens”

  1. Rayne Says:

    First, let me say I love your blog! Informative and thought provoking. I’ve been reading it on my Kindle for a few years. I only wish there was a way to comment directly from the device. Anyway, I had to comment on this article, since fanfic is my thing. πŸ™‚

    When I first heard of Amazon’s plans for this, I thought it was a bad idea. As an avid fanfic reader, it makes me very concerned for the future of fan fiction. Would this be a way to go after and shut down fanfic sites (not Amazon personally, but the rights holders of the particular fandoms)? Since the original content creators would stand to gain royalties from the fanfics written, therefore, it makes me think that they would try to prevent them elsewhere on the net, unless it was for profit.

    Usually most fanfic authors have a disclaimer at the beginning of their story, stating that they do not own the characters or verse, other than any OCs, nor do they make profit from it. I don’t believe that fanfic should cost anything, except in the cases where it was re-worked with different characters for publication (ie Fifty Shades) or the author was given the permission of the copyrights holder.
    Why should we pay anything for fan fiction? It’s fiction stories written by the fans for the fans. It’s a way to keep a cancelled series going, bring characters back from the dead, play with different ships, change up the canon or write an entirely AU version.

    What about editing? Will Amazon include that for KW authors? Sure, there are amazing fanfic stories worthy of publication, but there’s also a lot of really bad, poorly written ones as well. Bad grammar and poor English that make some very hard to read. I don’t see paying for something like that. If editing is included or will be in the future, to what extent? Just the basics or will it become more controlling where the original fanfic will no longer be what the author wrote, but what the publisher thinks will sell more copies?

    The main reason I got my first Kindle in 2009, was for reading fan fiction without the need for wifi. I would never pay for a fan fiction, with the exception of the aforementioned reasons. I just hope this won’t end badly for the fanfic community as a whole.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Rayne!

      Thanks for the kind words!

      First, I think you’ve done a good job describing the fan fiction community. There are many people who are unaware of it, and I think it will help them to read your perspective.

      I did write about the possibility that rightsholders may now protect their rights more assertively, so we agree there. Right now, public fanfic exists to some extent because rightsholders don’t pursue it. They may be explicitly okay with it (as is the case with Jo Rowling), or they simply may not consider going after it worth the cost (both in money and in public relations).

      If, though, Kindle Worlds proves that there is a market for it, that would change the calculations.

      It’s very important to note, though, that making no money is not a legal defense (although it may impact the way that the owner can go after you, and the amount that someone using someone’s else’s property without permission pays).

      Why should you pay for fanfic? Well, I suppose one could draw an easy parallel and ask why you should pay for original writing. It’s because it has value to you, and it takes time and energy to produce. If somebody wants to build tables and give them away on the street, they are able to do that. If a store wants to charge you for tables, they are able to do that as well.

      For me, that’s key here. If people want to tell fan stories to their “social circle” (not publicly distributed), absolutely no problem. If they want to publish them (make them available to the public), then they move into the area where infringement might be involved. While we agree that there might be more cases of publishers sending C&Ds (Cease and Desist letters), I don’t think that will go away completely. Some rightsholders will still see the value of free, unauthorized fanfic.

      On your editing question, I think it will be largely like Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon will not edit the works (although they will increasingly offer services to do so). You may get some that have serious deficiencies, and some that are brilliant and immaculately proofread. The alernative to that is to have it all go through curation (Amazon couldn’t afford to do editing unless it could select titles that it thinks are likely to sell…well, they might be able to afford it, being Amazon, but it might not make economic sense).

      As software gets better, Amazon might have submitting authors run the manuscripts through edit and grammar check…and conceivably, even story-editing software.

      I’m fine with the value of the book being determined by the market, though. Since we can “return” books within seven days of purchase for a refund, I’d like to be the one who determines if the book is satisfactory to me or not. πŸ™‚

      • Rayne Says:

        Your quite welcome. πŸ™‚ If I could help bring awareness and a better understanding of the community, then I’m glad. I’ve been reading (and writing) fanfic before I even knew that’s what it was called. I’ve read numerous comments across the net where it’s generalized as being something only for kids and teens, that the larger majority of it is bad and poorly written, which is simply not true. People of all ages enjoy both reading and writing fan fiction. I think it inspires creativity, introduces people to new fandoms they may not have otherwise been interested in via crossovers (as was the case for me) and helps to promote and boost sales and ratings for the books, shows, movies, etc of the various fandoms. Many published authors got their start in fan fiction as well.

        I see your point regarding the fanfic being original writing, that an author has put just as much time and thought into. For some reason, I always viewed it a bit differently than actual published works. I guess because fan fiction is written with established characters and universes. But that doesn’t make it any less original (plot, OCs, etc) does it? I admit that there are a few fanfics that I’ve read that I wouldn’t mind paying for, as they were just that good. Personally though, I wouldn’t feel right about taking payment for a fan fiction that I wrote. I only play with the characters and put them in different scenarios, I don’t own them, nor did I create them. I don’t think it would be fair to the original creators if I did accept payment, no matter that they allowed it, like with KW.

        Thanks for mentioning that detail on the disclaimers. I had never realized that before, I just thought as long as no profit was made, it was all good. The legalities and terms of copyrights can be complicated and tricky. I do think that it would benefit the rights holders to allow free fan fiction to thrive. Not only to boost ratings and sales, but it’s yet another way to gauge what the fans would like to see and what they think about a show or movie. (And I have my suspicions that the writers of some shows may get an idea or two from fan fiction, lol.) I agree that some will still see that.

        But I guess only time will tell if KW is opening a can of worms or not.

        True, on Amazon you can return a book. But if this idea catches on and other sites go with it, chances are that they will not have the same return policy. However, I don’t think any other online company can really compete with Amazon. They have better prices, better return policies and overall better customer service than any other company I have purchased products from, either online or off.

        “I’d like to be the one who determines if the book is satisfactory to me or not.”

        Me too. πŸ™‚

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