amazon’s sure to fail “fanfic” venture
A few thoughts on FanLib revisited, aka Amazon’s new “get paid for your fanfic, maybe” Kindle Worlds venture:
John Scalzi’s hunch that gay=porn (from the viewpoint of Vampire Diaries owners and any other intellectual property holder likely to participate in Kindle Worlds), is, I believe, accurate. Gay=porn is how things panned out at FanLib. Any story with a non-canon gay pairing, including those rated G, was slapped with a “mature” rating at FanLib. I expect Vampire Diaries stories with Elana/Bonnie, for example, will be rejected, while Damon/Stefan stories will be set on fire and left in a parking lot.
There is concern [in comments at Scalzi’s blog] about how Kindle Worlds could harm fanfiction and fanfiction writers. In my opinion, there is little reason to worry, because the thing that killed FanLib will also kill Amazon’s venture, which is: TV show/book/movie rights holders won’t be interested. In 2007, the FanLib founders believed they were launching a shiny new world of monetized fanfiction, and that Hollywood would shower them with money and invite them to the cool parties. But, as with FanLib, show/book/movie creators who respect fanfiction and fans aren’t going to go for Kindle Worlds, and those who distrust or dislike fanfiction (or are merely indifferent to it) aren’t going to go for Kindle Worlds either.
I believe Amazon knows creator participation, and therefore growth and royalties, are going to suck. But Amazon could still make money by “monetizing” participation in fanfiction, by charging fanfiction authors fees to “publish” stories; Amazon has been operating a bewildering array of pricey self-publishing services for “original fic” for years. Young fanfic authors, who have not yet found an audience, may imagine their stories will get more readers through Kindle Worlds (a dream Amazon is sure to exploit; FanLib did). What Amazon is failing to understand, and what FanLib failed to understand, is that fanfiction authors, who post stories on AO3, DreamWidth, or tumblr, have published a story, and do not need to pay Amazon a fee for the experience.
I do not know if Amazon plans to charge fanfic authors story submission fees (based on story length, for instance), but I do not see any way for Kindle Worlds to be profitable for Amazon otherwise; admittedly, Amazon has more money than FanLib did (understatement), and could operate in the red for… a long time. But if Amazon doesn’t charge fees to cover the cost of reviewing submissions (at the very least), I will conclude Amazon is suffering from the same delusion FanLib did: that show/book/movie creators will embrace their venture, make it a huge success, and gold will rain from the skies. There is also a chance that Amazon isn’t aware of FanLib, in which case this is going to be increasingly hilarious.