Amazon Launches Kindle World Store – Still Pretends It’s All About Fanfic
Amazon has just opened the doors on a new section of the Kindle Store.
Kindle Worlds, Amazon’s newest publishing imprint, officially opened for business today. It’s launching with 56 titles spread across 8 popular TV and comic book series, including WB’s Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars, Valiant Comics' Harbinger, and the Foreword Saga.
The ebooks are priced from deer nuts to $3.99. The revenue is split between the contributing writer, Amazon, and the licensee, beit an author, publisher, or mega-media conglomerate.
Amazon has also opened up the Kindle Worlds submission page today, and I strongly urge you to got take a look. While Amazon has conned some into thinking that any writer can submit a story, that page includes a long list of rules and requirements set down by Amazon and the licensees.
Authors are also going to have to give up a lot of control in exchange for the chance to possibly make some money. Here’s a telling excerpt from a Q&A that the head of Kindle Worlds conducted with Barry Eisler, one of the KW licensees:
Our publishing agreement is an exclusive license to the story and its original elements for the term of copyright. Because of this, we recommend writers do not incorporate a character or new element into a Kindle Worlds story unless they want them an exclusive part of that World.
All these rules, restrictions, and demands on the part of Amazon render dubious any claim of a connection to the free-for-all that is fanfic.
Admittedly, some of the licensees are going to allow generally free reign in their Worlds, but Amazon’s rules still exclude stories. I would say that it is now pretty clear that Kindle Worlds is not a fanfic free-for-all, but a licensing program for sanctioned stories.
P.S. I know that I have written some of this all before (here, here), but I thought it worth repeating.
David Haywood Young June 27, 2013 um 12:54 pm
Also probably worth repeating is this part that’s not at all obvious from the site itself: "Our publishing agreement is an exclusive license to the story and its original elements for the term of copyright. Because of this, we recommend writers do not incorporate a character or new element into a Kindle Worlds story unless they want them an exclusive part of that World."
This is from a Q&A between Barry Eisler and Philip Patrick, President of Amazon Worlds.
It’s pretty important–first, by giving away an exclusive license for the term of the copyright (currently your lifetime plus 70 years in the US) you’re essentially doing work for hire. Only with no guarantee you’ll be paid. Second, if you include a character from your own work? Um…some serious potential consequences there. Want to ex-post-facto lose the right to publish your own otherwise independent novel?
It bugs me that this stuff exists, and that it’s moderately well hidden. My strong recommendation (though I’m just a random internet dweeb) would be to avoid submitting anything to Kindle Worlds.
Nate Hoffelder June 27, 2013 um 1:03 pm
Thanks! I’m going to incorporate that into the post.
David Haywood Young June 27, 2013 um 1:05 pm
David Haywood Young June 27, 2013 um 1:05 pm
And sheesh…a "new element"? How inclusive is that, anyway? Settings, plot twists, a particular style of time travel or knife fighting? I don’t want to have to fight a big company in court, myself. It’s even worse if they’re in a position to unilaterally pull the plug on a big chunk of my income -without- going to court.
Glad I pointed it out? Don’t mention it…heh.
David Haywood Young June 27, 2013 um 1:21 pm
Aha: found the "official" page that spells it all out: https://kindleworlds.amazon.com/faqs?topicId=A31DTV3VSRP82B
Don’t worry, they say: "Term of copyright is quite common in publishing and work-for-hire agreements."
Yeah. And no, you can’t get your rights back or publish more than 20% even on your own site.
Thomas June 27, 2013 um 2:02 pm
Since it’s by definition a derivative work, you can’t do that anyway. The terms are pretty much the same as a work-for-hire, except with higher percentages instead of an advance.
fjtorres June 27, 2013 um 4:36 pm
It is crowd-sourced licensed tie-ins, plain and simple.
As such it is, like all tie-ins, work-for-hire.
Being crowdsourced, it is on spec.
The terms are clear: despite all that, smart money says there will be no shortage of takers. Or buyers of the content.
I’m generally indifferent to both tie-ins and fanfic but I already saw something to check out in the form of the Archer&Armstrong shorts. The price is right and the material lends itself to a lot of different treatments so it won’t suffer from the hands of multiple writers.
( That is one comic that I have always thought had great potential both within and without the field and the new version is even more fun than the original.)
Somebody in Hollywood ought to option the thing for a TV show, preferably for cable so they can go to town with the anarchy and spoofs.