22 May

Amazon brings disintermediation to the tie-in industry

“Amazon just announced a new program called Kindle Worlds that allows writers to sign up for no-mess licenses for established fictional worlds to self-publish stories in them. In essence, they’re letting fan-fic writers (amateurs who write such stories for fun) make money off their work. As a writer who’s made a good chunk of money writing official stories for such things, this is a brain-busting concept. So let’s break this down a bit.”

(Via Kindle Worlds = Worlds Burning? – Forbeck.com.)

Matt Forbeck’s run down is solid, I would recommend reading it all.

Interesting, everyone is responding to this as a way to monetize fan fiction, but that’s slightly off. It’s really a way for Amazon to disinter mediate media tie in novels, where packagers and publishers approach authors to write in an established media universe.

Amazon is using some elements of fan fiction to do an end run around the existing publishing structure of it.

As such, I think it’s probably more worrying to tie in writers and publishers than fan fiction writers and other writers. Another disruption.

John Scalzi has some thoughts:

2. So, on one hand it offers people who write fan fiction a chance to get paid for their writing in a way that doesn’t make the rightsholders angry, which is nice for the fan ficcers. On the other hand, as a writer, there are a number of things about the deal Amazon/Alloy are offering that raise red flags for me. Number one among these is this bit:

“We will also give the World Licensor a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you.”

i.e., that really cool creative idea you put in your story, or that awesome new character you made? If Alloy Entertainment likes it, they can take it and use it for their own purposes without paying you — which is to say they make money off your idea, lots of money, even, and all you get is the knowledge they liked your idea.

Chuck Wendig is also wondering things aloud:

That’s a pretty serious shift in authorship and authenticity.

Which is breaking my brain right now.

How much say does an author get?

How much veto power does Amazon or the publisher get?

Does this place too much power in Amazon’s hands (HAHA TOO LATE)?

Or does this put more power back in the original author’s hands?

As for myself, I’ve spoken on a couple podcasts about my desire to open the Xenowealth world after my fifth book. So far it looks like Amazon is trying to control this whole thing, it’s not quite as ‘open’ as I’d like. I’m struggling to see the mechanism where I could go on there and say ‘the Xenowealth is an open IP, here’s how to come in and start writing for it’ and split the royalties, play around.’ So I’m still not sure of how I’d build the Xenowealth opening up. I had been thinking about registering a website, with links to existing Xenowealth stuff, creating a wiki, and then investing some money in buying some stories from people who submitted (similar to what Eric Flint does for one of his own universes).

If Amazon created a mechanism for my simplifying that (by saying we split the royalties), I’d be very interested.

But as it is now, I smells similar to their Amazon Shorts program. Which looks a lot more like traditional publishing (Amazon decides who gets in) and hasn’t taken off quite the same.

It’s less an architecture that anyone or I could use, and more a program. It’s interesting as a program, probably a sign of things to come, but the fact that it’s not an architecture I can plug into means I’m less excited…