When Amazon announced Kindle Worlds, its collaborative writing portal, in May 2013 many authors were thrilled at the new opportunity but dismayed by the contract. Under Amazon's contract, contributing authors have to give up all rights to the scenes, stories, and characters they create when writing a story to submit to KW.
This has kept many authors from participating in KW. That includes JA Konrath, who held off in creating Kindle Worlds based on his works because he wanted the contributors to keep more rights, or as he put it " I believe writers should keep the characters they create".
And finally he has pulled it off.
Konrath announced last night that Amazon is officially launching a Jack Daniels & Associates Kindle World next week (the page is up). Writers can now contribute stories set in the world he created. They can use any of his characters (with some exceptions), create their own, and if they like the contributing authors can even kill off characters.
And best of all, the contributing authors get to keep the rights to the characters they create:
All the characters you write, you keep. Even if you invent a new character specifically to use in one of my KW stories, that characters stays yours, not mine.
This is a cool chance to do mash-ups and crossovers. Your characters and my characters in the same story, no holds barred, and you don't lose the rights to your characters. Ever.
Konrath has negotiated an exception to the standard Kindle Worlds contract. The exception doesn't apply to other Kindle World's (at least, not yet) but in Konrath's sphere of influence the contributor retains more control over their characters.
Should a contributor decide to create a character for a Konrath story and then want to write a stand-alone story, they can write that story without worrying about rights issues. The contributor can also freely sell the subsidiary rights for that character (movie rights, for example).
There's no word yet on whether the exception is going to be adopted in other Kindle Worlds, but I would hope that it is. This particular rights issue was the single most common complaint made about KW when it launched in 2013, and loosing this rule could generate new interest among authors.