As someone who has studied creative writing for years and is also a television fanatic, the following announcement from Amazon strikes an interesting chord with us. The company is delivering a model called Kindle Worlds that actually allows authors to be paid royalties for works of fan-fiction. There are only three “authorized” shows at the moment, but they are heavy hitters in “Pretty Little Liars,” “The Vampire Diaries,” and “Gossip Girl.”
There are a number of tiny contractual details about Kindle Worlds (as it is being called) that you can read about here, but we’re not really here to talk about rights ownership of characters or anything of the like. Instead, it’s all about the question of whether or not writers should be paid for basically creating their own stories featuring the creations of others.
One argument here is reasonably simple and makes some sense: If singers on YouTube can receive money from ads covering other artists’ songs, and many video games can be paid for posting their videos online using a similar structure, why not authors? It’s much of the same thing. A fan-fiction author may have a pre-designed template to work with, but they are still putting in hours of work in crafting a (hopefully good) story. Plus, the Worlds program has some guidelines that keeps the fiction from being the sort of thing that you’d have to burn afterwards.
We suppose our real question here is as followed: Is legitimizing something so passion-pased such a great move? The joy of fan-fiction for some has always been the pleasure of writing for the sake of writing, and then sharing among like-minded friends. The concern here is twofold in that the original author of, say, a “Vampire Diaries” script could feel slighted if a fan-fiction author suddenly pulls in more money than them, and that there will suddenly be authors who will actually take to writing fan-fiction rather than trying to create original worlds of their own, thus setting a limit on future creative projects.
Fan-fiction can be a good thing. It can provide exposure to a talent who is struggling to land a literary agent, or it can help a young writer try to establish necessary building blocks. But will monetization help, or just flood a market that has loved being niche over the years? The problem with the exposure of the craft in a post-“50 Shades of Grey” world is that there are now so many writers looking to be found, finding the true artists is harder than ever. Imagine the difficulty that could come when people are also starting to be paid for it. It’s basically like how everyone and their dog is looking to be the next Justin Bieber, and for one good cover video on YouTube there are around 8,000 awful ones.
What’s your take on this issue: Is paying fan-fiction authors a smart move, or a move that becomes discouraging to authors and artists trying to create fully functional worlds? We want to hear from you below.
Photo: The CW