The idea is that everyone, including Amazon, will profit. The fan fiction authors will get 35% of net revenue for full-length books; Amazon and the original copyright owner will split the other 65%, in terms that the company will not disclose.
Until now, fan fiction has largely been available for free; in the cases where it was not, sales definitely fell into a gray area. Could a fan of Harry Potter write and sell his own adventures of the boy wizard? He shouldn't -- but many did. If not entirely legal, the market for fan fiction was generally thought to be too insignificant to tamp down.
Then came "Fifty Shades of Grey." The erotic novel was the biggest-selling book of 2012 -- and it originated as a work of fan fiction.
Author E.L. James had posted a work of
In James' final version, the characters and setting had departed significantly from Meyers' original work. The
of just how much of "Fifty Shades of Grey" had derived from that original work of fan fiction was raised when the book became a hit.
However, Meyer hasn't signed on -- nor has J.K. Rowling, who has encouraged Potter fans to explore their own fiction in her Harry Potter-dedicated website, Pottermore. In fact, no single author with a traditional publishing house has joined Amazon for the launch of Kindle Worlds.
Instead, Kindle Worlds is launching with three major properties that are owned by Alloy Entertainment: Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and Vampire Diaries. Alloy is known for creating and packaging fictions that have the potential for broad popular appeal -- each of the above is also a television show -- and for paying authors on a work-for-hire basis. Whereas in a traditional publishing arrangement, Meyer owns the copyright to Bella and Edward, Alloy owns the rights to
On her website,
And in the hands of fans, Alloy and Amazon.
Amazon has said that it will announce further partners in the Amazon Worlds fan fiction project in the future.