Amazon has just launched Kindle Worlds, which allows for certain fan-fiction to be released as a paid product, with royalties paid to the author and the original creator of the world.
This is an intriguing development for a number of reasons, but let’s start with the most positive:
- People who have been previously writing fan-fiction for free can now get paid for their work. This is positive, as it’s possible they’ve been creating fresh content for no money until now.
- People who have properties that otherwise make a defined amount of money can now get more money out of the extraneous things people have been creating.
- More stories are always beneficial. Fans could come up with a better idea for the future of a series than the author themselves. For instance, in the gaming community, modding has driven almost all progression in mainstream gaming (Especially in shooters).
However, on the negative side:
- The quality is likely to be quite low generally. While there may be some stand-out stars, most professional authors like creating their own worlds.
- The original author is risking forking their world. If fans prefer a fan-fiction version of the universe, then the original author has just lost their audience for their own stuff.
- The copyright for any ideas in Kindle Worlds is the original authors. So they can use the ideas without compensating the person that came up with them.
- Readers can be turned off characters through over-saturation or characters doing things that people don’t like.
There are a number of attractive benefits to this system that I don’t think some people have thought of yet, though:
- There’s now a wide open market for world builders. If you can come up with a compelling universe with engaging characters, other people can take it further for you.
- On the flip side, you can be a writer who never comes up with a whole world, but just works within the confines of someone else’s world.
- It’s also a convenient starting point for beginning writers due to reason 2.
Generally, I don’t see this being used regularly by serious writers, other than in the start of their career. Part of the appeal of writing, at least for me, is coming up with people, worlds and situations from a blank page. To lose that whole side of writing a book would be disappointing, to say the least.
It’s also a reason I’m not sure how well I would be able to collaborate with another author, as I like changing things constantly, and it could easily drive the other person crazy.
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