So, Alloy is licensing some of its properties to Amazon, so Amazon can allow writers to publish legal fanfic and get paid for it. They’re calling it Kindle Worlds.
Now, I’m not gonna lie– I’m an old fandom queen. I have back in my day stories (we made vids by linking up two VCRs and editing manually! Zines under tables at cons!) and I have fandom queen reservations (people already get fanfic for free, there’s no reason to pay for it, furthermore fanfic is one small part of a fannish community that revolves around a particular media. It is not the sole purpose for fandom, and fanfic isn’t written for the benefit of the media property. And many other things, grr, argh.)
But as a published author who 1) loves fanfic 2) loves fen 3) loves getting paid, I really feel like I need to say something here. The terms that Kindle Worlds are offering are BAD, bad terms.
First, the royalties you get for each sale. 35% as long as your story is over 10,000 words– but on the sale price. Whatever they sell your story for, 35% is yours. So if they decide to give it away free (and experience with their exclusive Amazon promotions says that they want to give stuff away for free a lot) then you get 35% of nothing.
But that’s not all! They get to license your work right back, forever, for nothing! Your cool idea for Vampire Diaries? They can use it on the show. They can hire authors to write whole books about it. They can create a whole new series based on it. And you get nothing, because the agreement for Kindle Worlds says so.
They also want to control the content. There will be writing guidelines. So this becomes less and less licensed fanfic, and more and more work for hire in which Amazon and Alloy have a disproportionate amount of control, both creatively and financially. They’re asking authors to essentially give up all their rights for a sum that may well be a percentage of nothing, so they can then turn around and use that work any way they like. Content for their websites, new books, new shows– the sky’s the limit.
There’s no outlet in the entire universe that should reasonably ask for- and get- all rights to your work, in perpetuity, for the low, low price of potentially NOTHING. I don’t care if you’re a fan author, an indie author, a traditionally-published author, a small press author, it does not matter: If a publisher cannot offer you MORE than you can do for yourself, run away.
Because I started out as a fan author, I know there’s some appeal in being part of your show. The fantasy of contributing, of being valuable to TPTB and leaving your mark on something you love. I really, really get that. But I don’t think that Kindle Worlds is the way to do it. They ask for too much, and give you too little in return. And look– as a fan, you’re already doing the most valuable thing you can to help your show, your book, your fandom: you spread the word.
You write stories, you talk meta, you Tumbl’ all the gifsets there are to Tumbl’. You’re spreading the word, bringing in new viewers, and if you’re anything like me, you are buying so much schwag. You already conttribute to the media you love. It’s unfair, unreasonable and frankly, downright ugly for them to ask for more.
Fen, you are valuable. You are important. And you deserve better than Kindle Worlds.
The Daily Dot – The problem with Amazon’s new fanfiction platform, Kindle Worlds
Then I went back to the New Project, which is really more of an experiment. I still don't know what it will end up being, a short story, a novella or even a novel. I suspect, given my patterns, that it'll either end up being a full novel, or I'll get to a certain point where it's on the verge of being too long to be "short" fiction and then I'll suddenly wrap it up quickly. It started as a fairy tale rewrite -- fleshing out the traditional story -- but turned into a fairy tale twist of looking at what was going on behind the scenes with the other people who were present when that story was taking place, and that turned into a sort of revisionist thing of the way those other people would have really reacted to those events (like, take the Cinderella story -- when a mystery woman no one has ever seen before shows up as a prospective bride for the heir to the throne and instantly has him wrapped around her little finger, wouldn't someone get a wee bit suspicious of her maybe being a foreign spy infiltrating herself into the court or an enchantress getting him under her thrall?). And then it turned into all of the above: a fleshed-out fairy tale in which the characters are given some dimension, but then also a behind-the-scenes story in which the traditional characters aren't the main characters and the well-known story is playing in the background, and a revision in which the main characters are dealing in a reasonably realistic way with the fairy tale events. It's loads of fun to play with, but I'm not sure what the result will look like or if it will fall apart halfway through.
As for the book already written and published, here's a little background on the genesis of Kiss and Spell. I'll keep this vague enough to avoid spoilers since the book is still trickling out and I don't think everyone's read it yet (insert usual plea to post, tweet, skywrite, blog, write reviews, etc. about it to help spread the word because I don't want anyone to miss it). I thought I'd wrapped up the series with Much Ado About Magic. Obviously, I left some major loose ends dangling, and I wanted to do something with that potential story line, but I didn't know for sure what, and I didn't think I'd get the chance. I only wrote Much Ado because the Japanese publisher thought it was already written and offered to publish it, not realizing that I'd only written a proposal. But then the Japanese publisher asked if I wanted to write more books. At the time, I didn't have any solid ideas. I'd already defeated the main villains. I said I'd have to think about it.
The same day I met with my agent and discussed this possibility, I attended a convention panel (I saw my agent because I was in Denver for a convention) in which several authors, including Katherine Kurtz (OMG!!!!) and Carrie Vaughn, discussed writing series. Carrie Vaughn said that the way she kept her series interesting for herself was by essentially writing a different kind of book for each book in the series. One might be a mystery, another a romantic comedy, another a caper. The readers might not necessarily notice this because the books were in her usual style, with her usual characters, dealing with the established situations in the series, but it was the way she approached the writing, so that even though she was dealing with the same stuff, to her she was doing something totally new. That clicked for me, and I found myself mentally scrolling through my literary bucket list of the kinds of books I've wanted to write, and I came up with the quest story.
But another thing I've always wanted to write was a straight romantic comedy. I loved the chick lit genre because it seemed to me to be closer to romantic comedy films than romance novels were, but I never managed to sell a straightforward (non-fantasy) chick lit novel before the market tanked, and there isn't much of a market for the kind of romantic comedy I would write. Was there a way to do that in this series? I've also always wanted to write some kind of resistance movement story, and I was researching that sort of thing for another idea I have spinning around in the back of my head. It all came together to create the rather crazy plot for this book.
The more I thought about romantic comedies, the more I realized that they are, in their own way, fairy tales. They even have their patterns and motifs. Mr./Miss Wrong, the reveal of the Big Deception/Lie, and the Mad Dash Across Town are as common in romantic comedy as getting magical help due to kindness and the reveal of the true identity are in fairy tales. Each genre also has its typical stock characters you expect to show up. Since this series was essentially about inserting magical elements into a romantic comedy world, why couldn't I flip that and insert romantic comedy elements into a (literal) fantasy world? I thought I had something different planned for the aftermath of what happened to Katie at the end of No Quest, but that ended up being the set-up that was necessary for this to happen. It also gave me a chance to revisit the romantic relationship. That mostly happened in the background of all the saving the world stuff, and it happened maybe more quickly than I'd originally imagined, since I didn't know how many books I'd get to write. This situation gave me the chance to go back to the beginning and focus on it for a while. I also love the idea that if two people are really suited for each other, they'll be suited for each other no matter what the circumstances are. All they have to do is find each other again, and then the same things they always loved about each other will still be there.
It was fun throwing my characters into a When Harry Met Sally/You've Got Mail world, and even more fun once they came to realize that's what was happening. Genre awareness is used all the time in horror and science fiction, where the characters have seen enough movies to at least try to cope with the situation on that basis (the whole Scream franchise), but I don't think I've seen too many cases of a character coping with a situation because she knows what always happens in a romantic comedy.
|Amazon Publishing Introduces “Kindle Worlds,” a New Publishing Model for Authors Inspired to Write Fan Fiction—Launching with an Initial License of Popular Titles from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment|
Like Kindle Singles and Kindle Serials, Kindle Worlds Adds a New Approach to
Amazon announced Kindle Worlds today, describing it as “the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so.”
I didn’t know this was coming, but I’m not surprised, exactly. Amazon has been a very successful business, and if they see a potentially profitable area they can branch out into, they’re gonna do it.
I found out about this through Chuck Wendig’s post here, wherein he talks about the press release and proceeds to fragment his own brain into tiny, shiny pieces.
I’m still digesting and processing this, and I suspect some of it will boil down to having to wait to see how it all plays out. But some of my initial reactions are…
- This isn’t a free-for-all. Amazon has licensed these rights from the rights-holders, and it’s for a specific and limited list of properties.
- But wait, if they’ve licensed the rights, is it really fanfiction or is it an open call for licensed tie-in work?
- They’ve got a no porn rule. Fair enough. If anyone’s going to write 50 Shades of Blue: A Goblin’s Erotic Awakening, I think it should be me.
- My understanding of the fanfiction community is that there’s a strong value on not profiting from your work. This seems like a potential culture war between Amazon and the community they’re trying to court.
- That said, no community is perfectly homogenous, and as a writer, I have nothing against getting paid for your work, so long as it’s done legally, which this would be.
- Also, as someone who isn’t a part of that community, I could be TOTALLY AND EMBARRASSINGLY WRONG ABOUT THIS PIECE.
- Who decides whether to license a work, the publisher or the author? Can DAW license Libriomancer fanfic without my approval? Can I do it without theirs?
- Amazon takes all rights to your fanfiction story. Which isn’t entirely unreasonable in a work-for-hire situation, but will make a lot of folks uncomfortable.
- Why would people pay for fanfiction when so much is available online for free?
- Then again, why would people pay for licensed tie-in work when so much fanfiction is available online for free…
- Should prolific fanfic writers look into getting agents? I’m not sure the benefit of an agent in this situation, but I also cringe at the idea of writers who aren’t very, very business-savvy signing contracts without someone else looking it over.
- Does this mean fanfic could now qualify for SFWA membership?
- Waiting for various heads to explode at that question…
- Finally, Amazon is not pro-author, nor are they pro-reader. They’re pro-Amazon. (This doesn’t make them any worse or better than most businesses, by the way.) When Amazon’s interests overlap with those of readers or writers, great. But don’t lose sight of their bottom line, because I guarantee that’s what they’re watching.
I’m sure there will be many, many discussions and arguments about this, and I have no idea how it will all play out or whether or not it will work. But I do think it’s a fascinating step in the ongoing evolution of the industry.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
They sat like naughty schoolchildren.
Well, are you sitting like naughty schoochildren or have you done your homework?
My total is 2,786 today, although I have revealed elsewhere that some of my words get counted twice, so I may have to do a little more later. And it's sort of coming together too after a very sticky patch this morning.
Librarian Laini Bostian blogs at The Made Up Librarian. Today she talks to Eric A. Kimmel about authors marketing their manuscripts to publishers.
Learn more about Eric from Scholastic.
Eric: About writing and marketing, it’s never one or the other. Professional writers do look to the market. They have to. There are always compromises and adjustments to be made during the composition process and during the revision and editing processes.
The key is how does the author feel about making the changes. If you go too far and say "yes" too often, you may come to a point where it’s no longer your book.
Also, some editors will tell you upfront that they may not be the one to handle a particular manuscript. It isn’t doing anything for them, or the changes they’d suggest would turn it into an entirely different story. Sometimes the writer can go along with that. Sometimes we can’t.
I’ll give you a recent example that just happened with the manuscript I’m sending out. I originally conceived it as YA. Several of the editors who've responded so far made the point that it didn’t feel like a YA. It felt more like middle grade.
Jennifer Laughran called to talk to me about it. The editors may be right, she said. YA is edgier. The characters are older. There’s more sex and drama. My main character is finishing middle school. You might call the story YA, but it’s definitely on the younger edge of the spectrum.
It’s borderline between age markets, and as Jenn pointed out, “The border is where you don’t want to be.”
Editors can’t fit it into a specific genre. They can’t predict its audience or what it will do.
That can be the kiss of death these days.
What Jenn suggested is marketing, not literary advice: Take it down a couple of years. Forget YA and go for middle grade. It would be easy. The changes would be mostly cosmetic.
She also pointed out that the YA genre is glutted right now. It’s been so successful that everyone’s writing YA. Meanwhile, there’s a definite shortage of middle grade fiction.
So guess what I’ve been doing this past week? It’s a change I can live with. I see the point. It actually suits the characters, the story, and me more.
Are these revisions marketing decisions? You bet! Are they artistic ones? Definitely yes, because I feel comfortable with them and actually think the manuscript is better for my having made them.
Laini: So, if this work does not sell, will you be upset? What should young writers do? What would you say to them?
However, that doesn’t mean you give up. Set the manuscript aside. Maybe you can do something with it later. Times change, so a manuscript no one wants today may become a hot item in a couple of years.
The advantage I have over young writers is I know the drill. A similar rejection could be devastating for a beginner. But again, so what? Will you quit and never write anything again?
Guess what? Nobody cares. Real writers suck it up and start something else. The ones that are only in it for a payoff will find something else to do.
What should young writers do? Write! They think they’re going to get rich? That editors owe them something because they scribbled out a manuscript? That they don’t have to revise?
Well, they’ll learn, and they’ll be better writers for it. And if they decide to spend their time doing something else, what of it? I guarantee there will be no shortage of writers or good books.
mizkit posted about writerly income at a momentary reality check and I'm reposting here because, well, WHAT SHE'S SAYING. Never mind Rowling, King, Brown, etc. Ain't nobody 'cept those very few getting rich at this job. Damned few of us are earning above the poverty line (Federal standards: $12-15k per household of 1, $23-25k for a family of 3).
Catie and I are on a similar track (well, substitute two needy felines for a kid, and remove the spouse), and we are among the fortunate ones, at this point in time, in that we can say that we make an actual living out of this gig.
Averaging the past five years, I'm making around $45k/year, after my agency's 15% commission but before taxes. After-taxes would make you cry, no lie. Freelancer taxes are hell. I write more slowly than Catie does, which means I have fewer opportunities to sell, but I have my editorial sideline (5-10k of that pre-tax 45) which is why I can (almost) afford to live in NYC.*
(EtA: I also have multiple streams of writing income, between NYC, BookViewCafe, and direct-to-market)
As a point of comparison, the median family income in 2011 (most recent official numbers) was $61,455. There are benefits to this gig, but a fat paycheck is rarely one of them.
Keep in mind that writers (all freelancers) are not eligible for unemployment insurance if we lose our job, and every year that's a very real risk. So every year you're also (hopefully, ideally) squirreling away for the inevitable Really Bad Year(s). As they say in the financials, past performance is no guarantee of future results.
(everything that follows beneath the cut is Catie's original post. or you can go read it here directly.)
*and before anyone says "oh but why do you live in NYC if it's so expensive?"... because this is my home, and where my family lives.
Yesterday (5/21/13) was my 3rd Runniversary!!! Every year, whether you want to hear it or not, you’re subjected to my annual running stats. And if you’re really a glutton for punishment, the other posts are here…Runniversary and 2nd Runniversary.
But here are the stats:
In the last three years I have gone on 181 runs with and average of 4.5 miles.
I’ve covered 832.27 miles and I’ve spent 137.31 hours of the last three years running.
I’ve burnt 83,171 calories, which doesn’t even put a dent in my chocolate consumption LOL!
My average pace was 9.55 minutes a mile.
And this year (May 21st to May 21st) I ran 261.07 miles.
And this is my favorite place to run. It makes me feel like a bird.
Do you have any anniversaries coming up? I also have another one. A really big one. Check it out on a special post on Thursday.
2013 GradeReading.NET Summer Reading ListsKeep your students reading all summer! The lists for 2nd, 3rd and 4th, include 10 recommended fiction titles and 10 recommended nonfiction titles. Printed double-sided, these one-page flyers are perfect to hand out to students, teachers, or parents. Great for PTA meetings, have on hand in the library, or to send home with students for the summer. FREE Pdf or infographic jpeg. See the Summer Lists Now!
Children’s Picture Book Award: New Voices Award
While the population of the United States is skewing toward more and more “persons of color,” the publishing world has yet to catch up. In a press release, Lee & Low publishers say that less than 7% of children’s books published are by persons of color. To help encourage writers, Lee and Low has opened submissions for its 14th Annual New Voices Award. The Award is given for a picture book manuscript by an unpublished writer of color.
The Award winner receives a cash prize of $1000 and Lee & Low’s standard publication contract, including their basic advance and royalties for a first time author. The contest is open to writers of color who are residents of the United States and who have not previously had a children’s picture book published.
Past New Voices Award-winning books have gone on to win major awards such as the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent.
For full details on submission, see Lee & Low’s New Voices website.
Children’s Novel Award: New Visions Award
TU BOOKS, the fantasy, science fiction, and mystery imprint of LEE & LOW BOOKS, award-winning publisher of children’s books, has just announced the first annual NEW VISIONS AWARD. The NEW VISIONS AWARD will be given for a middle grade or young adult fantasy, science fiction, or mystery novel by a writer of color. The Award winner receives a cash grant of $1000 and their standard publication contract, including our basic advance and royalties for a first time author. An Honor Award winner will receive a cash grant of $500.
TU BOOKS was launched in 2010, dedicated to diversity in the beloved genre fiction market for young people. Titles include Wolf Mark, Tankborn, and Cat Girl’s Day Off.
Submission details will be available in June; see Lee & Low’s New Visions website.
Here are three examples of recent winners; I was surprised that the most recent I could find was 2007, which means that some of the award winning titles are waiting more than five years to be published. When I asked, a Lee & Low representative said, “This depends on a lot of factors including the amount of editing the manuscript needs upon acquisition and the schedules of the illustrators. Several of our New Voices authors have been paired with established illustrators who are often working on several books at once, which lengthens the process – but their illustrations are well worth the wait. New Voices Award winning-books have gone on to win major awards such as the Ezra Jack Keats Award, the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent, and a spot on the Texas Bluebonnet Masterlist.”