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» Hatrack River Writers Workshop » Forums » Open Discussions About Writing » Legal fanfic at Amazon?

   
Author Topic: Legal fanfic at Amazon?
LDWriter2
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Now this is an interesting development and worthy of discussion.

Jim Hines blog

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JenniferHicks
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As a former fan fiction writer and still an occasional reader, I don't know what to make of this. It's a brilliant move on Amazon's part to tap into an untapped market. However, trying to turn fan fiction into a business feels like a betrayal of what the community that writes it and reads it stands for, which is a passion for these shows and a desire to share that passion. It's not about money. I kind of hope this venture fails.

Also, John Scalzi goes into some of the contract details on his blog right here, and they are not good for the writers.

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pdblake
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Definitely sounds like a one sided deal.
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Nick T
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quote:
Originally posted by pdblake:
Definitely sounds like a one sided deal.

Without reading too deeply, it sounds pretty much like standard work-for-hire. You get money and to play in their sandpit, but it's very much their sandpit. It's certainly trawling a bit wider for writers than traditional tie-in publishers would, but it does seem like it's a fairly standard work-for-hire model built to extend Alloy Entertainment's TV properties. If I was a tie-in writer (which I have done a little bit of), I'd worry about the downwards pressure on the set rate you normally get for work-for-hire. From the fanfic perspective, it seems a bit pointless. Typical work-for-hire has to stick very closely to the production bible. I though the joy of fan-fic was carving out your own little take on something you and others love, not sticking with the company line.
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shimiqua
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I don't think it's a problem.

The original author of the series or books being fandomed will just get more exposure, more fan conversation, which is a good thing.

For the fanfic writer, it's a new market, and a way to get payed for writing what they love. The good stuff will rise to the top, and will bring more readers to the original story.

The only real issue I see, is what it'll mean for 99 cent books. My book is listed at 99 cents right now
http://www.amazon.com/Funny-Tragic-Crazy-Magic-ebook/dp/B00C4M2YJ2%3FSubscriptionId%3D1QZMGW0RRJC2PX87HDR2%26tag%3Dsalranexp-20%26linkCode%3Dxm2%26camp%3D2025%26creative%3D165953%2 6creativeASIN%3DB00C4M2YJ2

because I'm trying to grow a brand, and people are cheap. I think having more short stories out there for less than a dollar, will either crowd the market more, and/or increase the power of a full length novel for .99. In the long run, it might actually end up pushing up the price readers are willing to pay for a self published book.

I think it's a brilliant move by Amazon.

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Robert Nowall
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Looks at first glance like a shared-universe situation, rather than fan fiction...when they commit to a universe I'm interested in writing about (or have already written about), maybe I'll take another look.
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JenniferHicks
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quote:
Originally posted by Nick T:
I though the joy of fan-fic was carving out your own little take on something you and others love, not sticking with the company line.

Yep, that's just about it. All of my fanfic came from this thought process: Those (redacted) writers shouldn't have done that with the characters they should have done this! *typing furiously at my computer*

The part that worries me the most is that Amazon apparently owns the copyright to any and all stories that are published through Kindle Worlds. Granted, fanfic writers already by definition don't own much of what's in their stories, but if, say, the author of "Fifty Shades" had published her Twilight fanfic through this program, she would now be out millions of dollars and those books probably wouldn't exist. Actually, maybe that wouldn't have been so bad ...

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Reziac
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To avoid repeating myself, I've left a longwinded comment here:

http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/05/22/amazons-kindle-worlds-instant-thoughts/#comment-476069

For the TL;DR crowd, a summary:

This is work for hire just like any tie-in novel is work-for-hire.

Fanfic *including all original characters etc* is already 100% owned by the venue owner (per the Paramount lawsuit of some decades past). You lose nothing you "owned" in the first place.

Fanfic was not free in the olden days; you paid $20 or so for that mimeo'd or offset fanzine, back when $20 was still a whole day's wages. And it was a business for some, before internet archives made it "free". I know people who made a very nice side income from it. (And others who lost their shirts. Same as any business.)

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extrinsic
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At this time, only three television drama series properties are eligible for derivative works on Amazon's Kindle Worlds program: Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl; all Warner Brothers' properties with clearly-defined, niche audiences.

Amazon's folk have final decision if a submission passes muster and whether it will be published and at what price: $0.99 up to $3.99. Monthly royalty statements; presumably, payment quarterly or annually, and only if royalty revenue exceeds $50, per the standard publishing business model and Amazon's.

In order to pass muster, writers must be intimately familiar with the dramas, have a high degree of storytelling skill and discerning insight into the subtlest nuances of the dramas, and a high degree of creative inspiration that fits the demand.

I don't believe the market is very strong outside of die-hard series fans and fellow aspirants struggling for publication who will sample the competition's products. Likely outcomes will be mediocre products, stale facsimilies and carbon copy derivatives, and mediocre revenues. However, a few cents profit revenue per sale will add up over time, since the only real publisher costs and labors are a few kilobytes stored on a server farm.

In the end, this will be a narrow niche culture that creates and self-defines its own paradigm through the method and media, the message, and the popular pageantry of the specific culture; in other words, this won't be fan fiction in the classic sense. It will be a new culture that creates its own identity. It will be a focus group marketing trial that tests the viability of the process and limited to a specific audience. Potential success might lead to an expanded property eligibility. Possible failure might lead to a reinvention of the process that opens up another narrow niche culture.

Scalzi makes one point that is at the core of this marketing ploy. He won't write for it; he has strong aversions to writing in someone else's secondary world setting. On the other hand, that he won't speaks volumes about his biases toward any inventive publishing model outside traditional ones.

Writers with the chops to pass muster may use this as a springboard to development and recognition of their original works or languish inside someone else's secondary setting. It's a possible part-time income that will require full-time and more efforts.

My take: This will become yet another stab at traditional publishing culture and become a niche culture that ambitious, reputable writers will avoid. Me too.

[ May 24, 2013, 01:43 AM: Message edited by: extrinsic ]

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LDWriter2
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They are only doing TV shows???


That's only a small portion of fanfic.


Most probably I won't be interested anyway in that case.


But if I was I would agree with Reziac and extrinsic has a point or three also. In other words I would go ahead and do it, probably under a pen name--a different pen name that is. It could be fun and maybe a few dollars here and there. With the understanding of the restrictions.

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MAP
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quote:
Originally posted by LDWriter2:
They are only doing TV shows???


That's only a small portion of fanfic.


Most probably I won't be interested anyway in that case.


But if I was I would agree with Reziac and extrinsic has a point or three also. In other words I would go ahead and do it, probably under a pen name--a different pen name that is. It could be fun and maybe a few dollars here and there. With the understanding of the restrictions.

Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl were both books before they became TV shows.

I think this whole Amazon fan fiction thing isn't going to make anyone money except Amazon.

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MartinV
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If the keeper of original rights doesn't sue, then I guess it's OK. Of course it doesn't mean every fan fic is fine now.
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Pyre Dynasty
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My one tiny glimmer of success was in someone else's sandbox. I don't own it. I'd do it again given the chance. I'm with Robert, if they do something I'm interested in I'll look deeper. I think one could get a better deal with a work-for-hire situation and perhaps if someone's work stands out in their spaghetti factory they can negotiate better terms.

I do think this is going to hurt the tie-in market if the publishers see it as a replacement for it. I guess this is a "why buy this cow if that one is giving it away free" situation. If instead they look at it as a multi tier approach they might find it far more valuable to keep. The fan spaghetti factory stands as the bottom tier then tie-ins and the primary. I think this is a good time for tie-in writers to make arguments like this.

(Of course with this news I'm horrified to learn that Gossip Girl is still being made.)

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LDWriter2
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quote:
Originally posted by MartinV:
If the keeper of original rights doesn't sue, then I guess it's OK. Of course it doesn't mean every fan fic is fine now.

Most fanfic is still in the same category as it's always been but Amazon evidently made a deal with a certain company which makes theirs legal. Which is why there are only stories from three shows right now.

That will probably grow.


Like the individual songs we can now buy.

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