Amazon's Kindle Worlds will allow writers to sell fan fiction

The digital publishing platform will let fans write, publish, and sell the stories they've written based on popular books, TV shows, and more.

The 'Harry Potter' and 'Twilight' series are currently two of the most popular inspirations for fan fiction on the popular website

The world of fan fiction – in which fans write stories based on the characters in popular book series, TV shows, movies, and games – has few rules.

For example, in some fan fiction on the popular site, where users share fan fiction for free, Harry Potter may get pregnant, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth may share their first kiss on the moon, and Bella Swan might actually be a Soviet spy. 

The one and only rule of fan fiction: you can’t sell it. (Unless the fan fiction is based on work already in the public domain.)

Until now. On Wednesday Amazon announced Kindle Worlds, “the first commercial publishing platform that will enable any writer to create fan fiction based on a range of original stories and characters and earn royalties for doing so,” according to Amazon’s press release.

For the first time, the new digital publishing platform allows writers to write, publish, and sell fan fiction legally, all through Amazon.

“At Kindle, we’re not only inventing on the hardware and software side of the business, we’re inventing new ways to create books,” said Philip Patrick, Director, Business Development and Publisher of Kindle Worlds, in a statement. “Our goal with Kindle Worlds is to create a home for authors to build on the Worlds we license, and give readers more stories from the Worlds they enjoy.”

Here’s how it works: Amazon acquires licenses from the original copyright holder, whether it’s Stephenie Meyer’s publisher, Warner Bros. Television, or a movie production company, and agrees to fan fiction content guidelines, thus opening the way for writers to write and sell their fan fiction on Amazon’s platform. For any works of fan fiction published and sold on Kindle Worlds, Amazon pays royalties to both the copyright holder, as well as the fan-fiction author, who gets 35 percent of net revenue. Amazon retains the rights to any fan fiction published and sold on Kindle Worlds.

Already, Amazon has acquired licenses from several bestselling series, including LJ Smith’s “Vampire Diaries,” Cicily von Ziegesar’s “Gossip Girl,” and Sara Shepard’s “Pretty Little Liars.”  

Kindle Worlds will officially launch in June with more than 50 commissioned works from authors like Barbara Freethy, John Everson, and Colleen Thompson, according to Amazon. Amazon Publishing will set the price for the works, with most priced at $0.99 to $3.99.

Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.

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