The latest news on books, publishing and other literary tidbits.
Today's Roving Readers Report is brought to you by resident info junkie Mona.
Rover to Reader:
Welcome to the Jungle, part 1
Writers know life is a jungle. The jungle of our brain is where we cull fruit off the vines of Imagination to carve out a story, but it’s also a jungle in the mission To Be Published. The brave (and batty) forge trails if the pathway is blocked. Rejection doesn’t kill a career. Can’t get an agent? Build a website. The big house still won’t buy your book? Go indie. Or self-publish and wait for that same big house to call you, maybe.
Or you could become an Amazon. As in sleeping with the enemy of publishers. “Don’t worry, Writers,” coos Amazon the electronic retail giant, “if they won’t print you, I will. Just click this box here.”
Amazon’s latest deal:
This new pathway named “Kindle Worlds” offers a breakthrough for undiscovered writers and some money to both the copyright holder and the fan fiction author. It also raises questions for publishers and their stable of hired guns already writing in the world of licensed publishing aka media tie-ins.
What happens to those commissioned works? Are these stories considered the officially sanctioned adventures in the franchised universe? Is continuity a concern? Are there now multiple universes in a franchise? These already exist: see The Walking Dead comics vs. TV show; True Blood TV show vs. Sookie Stackhouse book series.
Writers hired to create in a licensed franchise receive a flat fee for their work and release all claims to it, no royalties are paid to them because these go to the franchise’s creator, the copyright holder. This used to be the rule in licensed publishing. Are these writers no longer welcome to play in the fandom they were previously hired to expand? Are they due an extra payment? Do they need a publisher to hire them or can they sign an agreement with Amazon?
Does the licensed publishing world as it currently stands co-exist with the new Amazon initiative or is it subsumed by the Amazon’s regime? What about book clubs whose foundation are media tie-in series?
A lot of questions without answers — it’s too early to tell and I’m not a lawyer. Amazon’s deal is one answer to the question asked at 2012’s BEA (Book Expo America): How do we find the next Fifty Shades of Grey phenomenon? Lure writers out of the fan fiction jungle, from where supposedly came E.L. James. The new question: If E.L. James had pubbed Fifty Shades of Grey through Kindle Worlds, would anyone other than Amazon benefit and how? I will be scouting 2013’s BEA for buzz and posting about this ground-changing deal.
Stay tuned for part 2, a personal history of the jungle.
Disclosure: I’ve served as a hired pen and editor of licensed publishing. I’ve also posted my own fan fiction opus (teenage hottie superheroes in birdsuits!) without any monetary recompense, yet.