Amazon announced today that fanfic writers who use works such as The Vampire Diaries and Pretty Little Liars can sell their stories through Kindle, just like original fiction.
The project is called Kindle Worlds, and it's part of a partnership with Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division. Alloy Entertainment has in the past specialized in bringing book series like Gossip Girl by Cecily von
Ziegesar and Vampire Diaries by
L.J. Smith into television form.
So, what is this new fusion of fanfic and transmedia? It certainly looks like a bid to make 50 Shades of Gray's lightning-in-a-bottle success a regular occurrence.
Is this going to create a new era of expression? What art could come out of arguments between people who write for pay and people who write illegally, a la city-sponsored graffiti?
The legalese in Amazon's case has some similarities to Random House's fanfic contest, which disappeared into the ether about a year ago. Although the author gets the initial revenue, the ideas in the fanfic become the property of Alloy Entertainment indefinitely. So your scene could pop up in a TV show, and you won't get a penny. That bothers me a lot more than the idea that fanfic could be made for profit at all - I like the idea of getting paid for what I enjoy doing. My inspiration is Hondo Ohnaka here.
What had previously been usufruct is becoming a little more feudal - in the case of a few fandoms, anyway. No word on whether other properties will sign on.
(Via Club Jade)