Okay, let’s start with my confession first. I discovered Fan Fiction years ago when I was in the midst of the X-Files mania (yes, I’m a fan). In fact I’m pretty sure that X-Filers had some of the most popular Fan Fiction out there. Fans, tired of waiting for Chris Carter to push his characters Mulder and Scully to “get it on” would subscribe to various Fan Fiction sites and live out their wildest X-Files fantasies there. They were fun reads and one thing I quickly discovered was that some of the writing was really, really good. I mean surprisingly so. I wondered at the time why none of these writers were trying to get published, or maybe they were, but Fan Fiction wasn’t really okay in terms of copyright though most shows sort of let the fans write their stories and left them alone. My research took me further into Fan Fiction (even to the point of Fan Fiction show mashups); it showed that most of them just enjoyed writing their stories about these characters they’d come to love so much. Don’t like the way a plot line is being handled? Write your own version of it, put it on a Fan Fiction site and let the readers decide.
Cycle forward to present day and (you know I had to mention it) the success of 50 Shades of Grey – which also started as Fan Fiction. It would make sense then for Amazon to publish Fan Fiction, especially after an Amazon insider told me that they are eager to sign more of this type of content (are you paying attention Fan Fiction writers?). So, the marriage is perfect. Amazon now gives these authors a legitimate way to publish their stuff. Prior to this most were underground, writing these often amazing stories and burying them on someone’s unknown website, blog, or Fan Fiction forum. Personally I think it’s brilliant. Can you imagine all of the great and fun content we’ll discover this way? I can’t wait. It’s a really exciting time. One of my readers over at my Huffington Post blog said, “That Amazon. Always thinking.” Yes, they are. Thinking of the future, thinking of content, and giving readers another way to access great stories.
Here’s the story on Mashable
Wow. Okay, first, fandom has moved on a bit from the days of alt.tv.x-files.creative. Fanfic is no longer a dirty little secret that’s passed under the con dealer’s table or buried in a kazillion posts on listservs. There are huge archives out there that are easy to find with millions of stories in every conceivable fandom. The Archive of our Own offers a huge range of fully searchable fic in easily downloadable formats. The Organization for Transformative Works, moreover, has fought and is fighting for the rights of fan artists, vidders and writers to the legal recognition of our fair use of copyrighted material. We don’t need the sanction of the media corporations to do what we do, and to say that this finally offers fan writers a chance at “legitimacy” misses the point of what we do and why we do it. Very few fan creators are primarily looking for the blessings of the powers that be, and even fewer are looking for any kind of compensation.
Second, I’m frankly astonished that a published pro author is advocating Amazon Worlds, which offers us an absolutely crap deal: they publish our stuff, we get a cut, but after that they can also use whatever they want of our work and ideas however they want, and we will get absolutely zilch:
“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.”
Many writers have put it better than I can in a short response (check out Scalzi’s post of May 22nd, for example), but no one else who writes either fanfic or profic that I’ve seen considers this a good deal. In fact, it sets a dangerous precedent for all writers by allowing major media corporations and publishing companies to try to set the bar of compensation ridiculously low. No one will be fairly remunerated for their work if we all rush to voluntary serfdom by jumping on this bandwagon.