Writer. Adventurer. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a series of steampunk novels and short stories.

News from the Publishing Hinterlands

Despite writing four more pages today, I’ve been a bad, bad writer.  I wasn’t working on my Dreamless City novel-in-progress, nor was I finishing the last section of our Life of a Foundry Moth short story project.  Noooo, I wandered off and started something new, another short story.  >_<

I didn’t mean for it to happen, honest!

I was just going to write down my idea, then set it aside for later. Get it out of my system, sketching out the story in a couple of paragraphs.  Then I started a bit of dialogue, adding in another character… and the damn thing took off with me like rampaging elephant.  /sigh  It was quite a ride… I just wish it would have happened with one of the projects I need to finish.  /shrugs

Enough about me and my writing escapades, here’s some news, while not particularly fresh, that I would like to add my two cents to:

Amazon Fan Fic

For anyone still mired in exams, on vacation, or not trolling the publishing hinterlands, Amazon announced last week that they are getting into the fan fiction biz.  Kindle Worlds would allow “any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and character and earn royalties,”  but only for licensed stories, such as Gossip Girl and Vampire Diaries.  There is also a no porn rule.

As I have mentioned before, I’m rather ignorant of fan fiction culture, but on the writerly side, I do have an opinion.

Who decides to license the rights to Amazon?  Is it the author or the publisher?  If the rights lie with the publisher, then it doesn’t take much imagination to see an author’s once-great world laid low by scads of fan fiction not matching the author’s vision. The author would be powerless to stop it.

What would happen if the fan fiction became more popular than the original story?  Amazon has the marketing muscle to make potential readers notice whatever product it wants to push.  To a certain point, it is numbers game — the more people who notice, the more people who buy.  It is feasible that the fan fiction could outsell the original work.  It’s gonna happen eventually to somebody, and someone else (probably Amazon) is going to make a lot of money off of it.

Also, this is a SUPER RED FLAG: Amazon Publishing will acquire all rights to your new stories, including global publication rights, for the term of copyright.  <– That means that once Amazon has paid the author the 20% for the fan fic, they can do whatever they want with it and never, ever shell out another penny to the author.  It’s a great deal for Amazon… but sucks if you wanted to be rewarded for your good story.

I want control of MY creative content.  I want to tell MY stories.  If you want to tell stories set in MY world, that’s fine.  Most fan fiction writers have limited distribution power, so MY vision would remain the prominent one.  However, Amazon has enough power that it could invert the general perception of an author’s work just by pushing the fan fiction based on it.

Mostly though, if YOU are writing stuff based on MY worlds and characters, and if YOU are making money off of it, I want to make MY money off YOU.

Some authors have also weighed in on this, if you care to read some expert opinions on Kindle Worlds:

Chuck Wendig
Jim C. Hines
John Scalzi
Tobias Buckell

Recent Posts I Have Enjoyed

Some of my friends around the Internets have really great ideas, some of which they have been kind enough to share.  In case you missed some really interesting thoughts about writing, entertainment, and life, here they are:

Don’t Write Boring – Part One and Part Two

The Undeterred Male

In Defense of Self-Published Authors

Who Decides if You’re a Real Writer or Not?

Brain Hardware vs. Software

All the Publishing Information You Ever Wanted

I Question Your Character

17 comments on “News from the Publishing Hinterlands

  1. MishaBurnett
    May 27, 2013

    Amazon’s Kindle Worlds isn’t really publishing fan fiction, what it is doing is accepting submissions for media tie-ins–similar to all the Star Wars universe books out there. (Or the World Of Warcraft books, or the Supernatural books, or…)

    The terms that they are offering writers are actually slightly better than most work for hire agreements under which an author will write a media tie-in to a work licensed by another. They are offering a 35% royalty on e-book sales–most media tie-ins are done for a flat fee.

    They also offer an unspecified percentage to the original copyright holder, so that if someone writes something based in your world, you will make money from it. Yes, Amazon will have rights to any characters or situations created by a Kindle Worlds author for works set in a licensed world, that is also pretty standard for media tie-ins.

    The program is completely voluntary for everyone involved–the original copyright holders choose to allow Kindle Worlds to publish works based on their creations, and are able to set guidelines for acceptable submissions, the authors can choose to submit works to Amazon, or to continue posting them on fan fiction sites, Amazon may accept or reject submissions, and readers get to decide if they want to buy them or not.

    I think the hysteria that is going around about this project is way out of proportion.

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      The “unspecified percentage” to the copyright holder has me squeemish. And I still don’t know who will be licensing the work to Amazon, the publisher or the author. I think those are my two biggest hangups and why I think this is news-worthy. When Amazon does things, it can be disruptive in a big way.

      • MishaBurnett
        May 31, 2013

        My understanding is that it would depend on the contract that the author has with the publisher, but in general I believe that the author keeps the rights to the characters unless she or he specifically grants them to someone else. So most traditionally published authors will have the final say over licensing their work for Kindle Worlds. Self-published authors, of course, retain all rights.

      • tracycembor
        May 31, 2013

        Thank you for clarifying that. It helps this make a bit more sense (and makes me feel more warm fuzzies for self publishing.)

  2. mrschmoe
    May 27, 2013

    Some authors view fan fiction as invasion of their worlds. Typically writers of fan fiction do it for art. They make no profits from it. But making profits from fan fiction, well that pisses me off. I look upon it as larceny of the writing craft
    I don’t want nobody writing stories in my realm of writing imagination and mangling my creative content. Once that is done, well, for example, it may morph into 50 shades of grey meets jack ass with a touch of the Friday the 13th meets Night at the Museum.
    My face would be red and suffer a mild case of a stroke, if the fan fics outdo the stuff I churn out. If a novel im working on, becomes a decent hit. God help me. My control of that story of mine would be lost for good.

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      I don’t have a problem with fan fiction. I think that celebrating popular IP is great for the fandom. But I do have an issue with people making money off of my creative content without my permission.

      • mrschmoe
        May 31, 2013

        I have no problem with fan fiction either. One thing that annoys me is greed by the big wigs and fans being used by them. I would be pissed, if the big wigs were to make profits off from my IP. It would annoy me even more, if they sold rights to my IP to someone else or a company rather than compensating me.

        You got to admit, fan fic writers are a pretty creative bunch.

  3. mrschmoe
    May 27, 2013

    Reblogged this on Just another inane writer and commented:
    I reblogged this. feel free to glance at this post ;) pretty interesting indeed.

  4. ericjbaker
    May 27, 2013

    As if I didn’t have enough publishing-related controversies to be confused about! Thanks for the link back to my piece, by the way. I’ve got to check a few of those other posts out.

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      Sorry to give you more things to worry about! And I’m always glad to support great people with great ideas worth sharing. ;)

  5. beautycalyptique
    May 28, 2013

    as long as you keep up posting the News from the Publishing Hinterlands, your sideways are forgiven *nods generously*

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      Awww, thanks! I appreciate the understanding. It is better to ask for forgiveness… I’ll probably go sideways on something again. :D

      • beautycalyptique
        June 2, 2013

        as long as it keeps fuelling the imagination, I’m all for the detours ;)

  6. Przemek Kucia
    May 28, 2013

    Thank you for including me here :D

    I must say that even I am not a writer I do enjoy reading about News from the Publishing Hinterlands. I really do. Those struggles with publishing “megazords” do nibble my inner economist, because I can clearly see that from author perspective the case is clear – there is need for regulation. Yet from the economist point of view, and to mention Austrian school of economics economist xD I can deduce that there is problem with existing over-regulation and stiffened market or it is another different problem of poor enforcement of authors rights to his own property or with the intellectual property as a whole, Or three at the same time xD It’s also an option. Cause in fair conditions this situation of existing few big publishers and Amazon almost abusive deal should not take place, or shouldn’t take place for long, because another player would emerge. Or I guess I am wrong again, and most of authors do agree with those harsh terms and those terms are delivering decent value to customers in unbeatable price.

    Since we all are customers…

    (There is no ultimate point here – just some loud thinking xD)

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      Yeah, it get’s my inner economist’s panties in a bunch with the craziness of the publishing megazords. It is a mature, entrenched, and decaying market, and the guys at the top are still in denial. Meanwhile, Amazon is doing radical new things, and we aren’t sure whether the longterm impacts will be positive or not.

      Thinking out loud is always welcome here. :D

  7. lukebbtt
    May 30, 2013

    I always get distracted by new projects. Speaking of distractions, here’s an award! :P

    • tracycembor
      May 31, 2013

      Distractions of this nature are always appreciated. Thanks for the props!!

Comments are closed.


This entry was posted on May 27, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , .

Posting Schedule for 2014-15

Monday through Friday I will be posting about writing as business and craft, the science of creativity, all things steampunk, and progress on The Dreamless City.

Weekends are reserved for my Music Playlist.

Writers of the Future Honorable Mention

About the Author

Tracy Cembor attempts to juggle a preschooler and a baby, a full-time job, random geekery, and the writing life. Currently working on The Dreamless City, a steampunk urban fantasy novel. Come join the adventure.
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