Original authors and their amateur adapters can now jointly ‘monetise’ the popular spinoffs
George RR Martin hates fan fiction, Anne Rice has banned it, Ursula K Le Guin calls it “an invasion”. But a host of authors have signed up to a new programme from Amazon, which encourages any fan who fancies it to write fiction inspired by their worlds, and sell it to readers through the Kindle store.
Amazon announced yesterday that it had secured licences for the bestselling Gossip Girl series by Cecily von Ziegesar, for Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars and for LJ Smith’s Vampire Diaries from Alloy Entertainment. The licences will allow fans to publish authorised stories set in the different fictional universes as ebooks for the Kindle, with royalties paid to both the original author and the fan fictioneer.
Amazon said the “Kindle Worlds” project was good for writers because it is “an entirely new way to monetise their valuable franchises [and] it allows them to extend their worlds with new stories and characters and more deeply engage with existing fans”.
“Seeing Pretty Little Liars fans adapt and create their own stories is both exciting and flattering and I think what Amazon Publishing is offering through Kindle Worlds is a great way to reward their ingenuity,” said Shepard.
A collection of established authors has already begun dabbling in the world of fan fiction via Amazon. “There’s probably not an author/fangirl alive who hasn’t fantasised about being able to write about her favourite show. The fact that you can earn royalties doing so makes it even better,” said romance author Trish Milburn, who has been writing in The Vampire Diaries universe.
Amazon said it planned to announce more fan fiction licences soon. Martin, who has said that “no one gets to abuse the people of Westeros but me”, and Le Guin, who describes fan fiction as akin to “strangers coming in and taking over the country I live in, my heartland”, are unlikely to be on Amazon’s forthcoming list.
Nor is Rice, who has made her feelings on fan fiction clear in the past, writing on her website: “I do not allow fan fiction. The characters are copyrighted. It upsets me terribly to even think about fan fiction with my characters. I advise my readers to write your own original stories with your own characters. It is absolutely essential that you respect my wishes.”