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Amazon to Shut Down Kindle Worlds

Word is percolating through several different parts of the indie author community  tonight that Amazon is going shut down Kindle Worlds, its fan fiction publishing unit, just before KW’s fifth anniversary

Several of my sources are comments left on KBoards, where author Jim Johnson wrote earlier today:

Heard in a couple places that Kindle Worlds is closing down. If true, it’s too bad, but not surprising. I’ve had an eye on it for a while but it never seemed to be well-managed. And the lack of metrics available to authors seemed problematic.

Apparently Amazon has told the authors who own their respective Kindle Worlds, but has not yet told KW contributors or the public that the program will close completely in July.

Another of my sources found me privately through FB, and cannot be named. That source told me that the official notice will go out tomorrow, which is apparently not true because Lindsay Buroker got the word a few hours ago:

Launched in May 2013, Kindle Worlds was the part of Amazon’s publishing unit that focused on publishing tie-in stories for existing properties like GIJoe, and various TV shows such as Veronica Mars and Vampire Diaries. Each property was set up as its own little Kindle World, and writers were invited to submit stories. The original creators of the IP could accept or decline the stories, and if a story also passed Amazon’s content standards then it was published in the Kindle Store, with the author, owner, and Amazon splitting the sale price.

Kindle Worlds later expanded to include Kindle Worlds based on the works of indie authors such as Barry Eisler, Blake Crouch, and JK Konrath. It gradually slid off the radar by 2015, but continued to publish new stories. In fact, one source on FB said they had KW stories set to be published in October.

It’s not clear what will happen to existing stories, but I am told that rights will revert to authors of each story. They will have the option of either working out a deal with the original creator in whose world the story is set, or removing any identifying details and then republishing a former KW story as a new work.

Update: Here’s the letter Amazon sent to the KW owners:

As a valued member of the Kindle Worlds licensor community, we wanted to let you know that the Kindle Worlds program is closing. We will be notifying fan authors tomorrow, May 16th.

As of May 17th, Kindle Worlds will no longer be accepting new submissions. Previously published Kindle Worlds stories will no longer be available for sale on on or around July 16th. The Kindle Worlds website will be closed on August 29th; we ask that all Kindle Worlds participants update and validate their banking information, mailing address, and contact information by July 31, 2018 in order to facilitate a timely final royalty payment.

Your final royalty statement will include a proactive final payment for all remaining Kindle Unlimited borrows, including borrows that have not yet met the qualified borrow threshold. We plan to remove Kindle Worlds stories from Kindle Unlimited on May 16th.

Effective as of the date we remove each fan author’s work, we will revert the rights granted to us by that fan author. Our reversion letter to each applicable fan author will provide that such reversion is subject to the rights we granted to you in the Kindle Worlds License Agreement between you and us.

For five years, Kindle Worlds has been thriving, engaging writers and readers who enjoy writing in one another’s worlds, and we’re proud of the work we’ve done together. While we are closing Kindle Worlds, Amazon is constantly innovating on behalf of our authors and readers, and we look forward to continuing to do so.

We hope that 2018 and beyond bring wonderful things for you and your stories, and we appreciate your support over the years.
Warm wishes,
The Kindle Worlds team

Have you written a Kindle World story? What do you plan to do with it now that KW is closing?

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Jessica Russell May 16, 2018 um 3:37 pm

I’ve written several KW stories for different author worlds under various emails. My Amazon email had this line, as well:

"As a reminder, please note that certain rights have been granted to the applicable World Licensor and, as a result, you may not be able to republish your work, use elements from the world, or otherwise exploit the rights you granted unless you obtain the World Licensor’s permission."

The seed authors are the ones who determine what they’ll let be republished. Some of them are opening LLCs to republish those world books, others ask that you strip all their world information from your books and do what you want, some are setting up box sets, and others are making their world open for invited authors. All of the seed authors I’ve worked with are sending letters to their authors for whatever permissions they’ve allowed. It was awesome that they opened their worlds for others to write in. I’m amazed by the grace they’re showing under the conditions. I can’t speak for all the author worlds, but the ones I’ve been in have been great.

Jessica Russell May 16, 2018 um 3:38 pm

I meant that I write under various pen names, not emails.

Chris May 17, 2018 um 6:17 am

Why do you think Amazon’s shutting the service down? When KW launched I knew a fan of a sci-fi author (can’t recall which author) who absolutely hated the idea of KW because she believed allowing others into another author’s world would dilute that universe. I took the opposite opinion. I read a lot of military/espionage thrillers and the idea behind KW has been in that genre for a long time. Tom Clancy was famous for farming out “his” books. Vince Flynn passed away a couple years ago and was able to “pass the torch” to another author so his Mitch Rapp character could live on. If the “seed” author worked closely with those who want to write in their universe KW could have really helped develop new authors who ensured the world could live on in a high quality manner even after the creator of the world was gone.

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Michell May 17, 2018 um 1:03 pm

Will the kindle worlds books we purchased (not borrowed through KU) remain on our ereaders? Can they delete them from our kindles?

Celita May 17, 2018 um 2:42 pm

I love the Kindle World books and have found many new authors this way. I love being able to experience more of the worlds that I enjoy. As a reader, I’m sorry to see them go. Now I have to make sure to purchase those I’ve been waiting on, before they are no longer available.

In response to Michell – any books we purchase should stay in our library. I have many books that are no longer published that are still there and that can still be sent to my Kindle.

Michell Trahan May 23, 2018 um 8:42 am

Thank you! I’m sad to see them go too 🙁 Kindle worlds has been a great add to some of the authors series I already loved and introduced me to several more that I probably would NEVER have read had they not written in those worlds.

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Brian K Morris May 22, 2018 um 1:30 pm

Mitchell & Celita, I contacted Kindle Worlds right after I received the e-mail about closing. They assured me that whatever you have purchased from KW, or what you buy before they close shop, will remain in your queue for future reading.

I launched my book writing career with a Kindle Worlds book, BLOODSHOT: The Coldest Warrior, based on the Valiant Comics character. I continue to receive royalties to this day and I’ll always be grateful to Valiant Comics and Kindle Worlds in particular.

Michell Trahan May 23, 2018 um 8:43 am

Thank you so much!

David Mark Brown May 24, 2018 um 11:39 am is currently a platform for collaborative writing. This fall the platform will launch a program to sell and distribute shared IP storyworlds (in digital, print, merch, etc.). Any of the seed authors impacted by this closing should reach out to StoryShop or the parent company, Fiction Vortex.

Jaime Buckley October 18, 2018 um 4:44 pm

Awwwwww, I’m a bit saddened by this. Barry Eisler is a friend of mine and I haven’t kept up on what has been happening in Kindle Worlds. Just showed up today and saw it was shut down.


I’m actually wondering if anyone here (or any fan fiction writer you may know) has a copy of the parameters you had to write within–the actual writing rules for any of the Kindle Worlds?

My son and I wanted to open up a world of ours and I wanted to understand how seed authors constructed their basic rules in document form.

Any chance one of you could help me?

Appreciate it.


Jaime Buckley

David Mark Brown October 19, 2018 um 11:00 am


I don’t have a copy from any of the old seed worlds on Kindle Worlds, but I can for sure help you get a world set up so you can invite other collaborators. I’m the COO of We are the only platform organized around the creation and management of collaborative worlds (we call them StoryVerses).

You can sign up for a free trial of StoryShop to check out what we are currently offering. Not all of our tools are currently available to the public. So please send me an email as well ([email protected]). We will have a major release of a new look and some new features over Cyber Monday weekend.

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