This week a lot of places on the interwebs went berserk with Amazon’s recent announcement they will be selling fan fiction. It’s going to be called “Kindle Worlds.” I want to get into what fanfic is, how it’s different from parody, and what some of the details are with this announcement from Amazon.
Although I know very little about fanfic or fandom, my first thought was how can they do this legally? From what little I do know about fanfic, it’s always been a genre that’s been shared and not sold for monetary gain. It seems the crafty people at Amazon have figured out a way to avoid this, and it looks as if what they are doing is perfectly legal. Keep in mind. This is NOT parody. This is fanfic and the two are completely different. My books like An Officer and His Gentleman and Pretty Man are highly erotic parodies of mainstream straight stories that I wrote to be satirical accounts of mainstream fiction with gay characters. The titles alone are parody. If I had wanted to write fanfic, I would have taken a gay story, like Queer as Folk, or Brokeback Mountain, and written tender loving romances based on them in alternate worlds. But I didn’t want to do that: my statement was more political as a gay writer who was tired of the way gay romance is treated in the mainstream. And the odds of me ever writing a novel based on any *gay* story are about as strong as me wearing dad jeans in public.
For those who know nothing about fan fiction, you can read a good description here.
Here’s how Amazon can do this legally.
The company has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division for Gossip Girl, by Cecily von Ziegesar; Pretty Little Liars, by Sara Shepard; and Vampire Diaries, by L.J. Smith. All three are also incredibly successful TV shows in their own right, which should add to the interest both from fans and aspiring writers.
In other words, right now you can’t just write any fanfic. It has to be based on one of the above. I do see more in the future, though. If there’s a market for it, they are ALL going to cash in on it. And if this is what readers want, no one can blame them.
This is the actual announcement from Amazon. Get Ready.
Get ready for Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.
This next blogger makes a few good points. There was a m/m romance that came out a little over a year ago that spawned an epic shitstorm in the m/m community with readers and reviewers because many alleged that the author of this book basically copied everything from a gay film. There were even chapter by chapter examples given comparing this author’s m/m romance to the gay film…even song lyrics. It was NOT parody. This m/m author and the publisher have gone on to become very popular in spite of this, will be very popular at the upcoming Gay Rom Lit in Atlanta, and that particular book seemed to sell very well to m/m romance readers. In other words, the readers want this, and if that’s what they want I see no issue. However, as this blogger below states, it’s not all that fair to those who are true to fanfic. And what about the fact that readers can get great fanfic for FREE, and have been doing so for years?
The weird thing is what happens to that comfortable space that separated canonical from non-canonical. Like, one assumes that the fan-fic remains officially non-canonical — and yet, people are paying for it. And getting paid in return. Which lends a kind of intellectual and emotional legitimacy to it. And allows for a very weird thing to happen: it lets the licensed fan-fiction to become, in theory, bigger than the material that spawned it.
I wish I could say I did, but I don’t have any strong opinions about all this…except this next part bothers me. Is Amazon trying to define porn now? Evidently, there are a few stipulations that sound a lot like censorship to me.
Though there is another reason that this might not be as successful as Amazon is hoping. From the content guidelines: “We don’t accept pornography or offensive depictions of graphic sexual acts.” It’s unclear whether this is the same as Amazon’s normal ban against “pornography” that doesn’t include the huge amount of erotica that they publish, or a higher standard imposed by the licensing agreements. But one thing is for sure – a lot of the fan fiction that people would be willing to pay for includes “graphic sexual acts.”
You can read more here.
The typical ban against pornography on Amazon is basically the same as it is everywhere else. I listed these things in my upcoming anthology, The Women Who Love to Love Gay Romance.
Standards apply: No Incest, rape, underage characters, or bestiality.
But does this apply to Amazon’s “pornography” rules with fanfic? Or is Amazon and the people they are in partnership with in Kindle Worlds going to define “porn” for us? It should be interesting to see how this plays out.
In any event, fanfic does sell and readers seem to want it. Fifty Shades of Grey, which is allegedly fanfic based on Twilight has proven this. And the example I gave above about the m/m romance author proves this as well, too. He has built quite an epic following. And if this is what readers want, Amazon is going to give this to them. The hard part for me is that if anyone wants to read good fanfic, and I do believe there is good fanfic out there, you can get it for nothing. Only most people don’t know about this, and they will be shopping at Amazon to pay for their fanfic.
If you do a simple search, you’ll see what I mean about how this announcement has ignited tons of opinions. Here’s one more link I found interesting, because this person also wanted to know how Amazon found out a way to sell fanfic legally.
I personally am not the biggest fan of fan fiction, as some of you might know. But rest assured that the Scanners “Head Asplode” pic I’ve used to lead off this article doesn’t come from a place of distaste as much as pure shock at Amazon’s insane, bold, and genuinely brilliant plan to sell legal fan fiction.
Nude Cumberbatch Shower Scene in Star Trek
This next article talks about a nude shower scene in Star Trek with Benedict Cumberbatch. Why they would remove a scene like this passes me by.
“We had a scene with him where we saw him actually take a shower,” Abrams told Conan O’Brien. “It’s not in the movie but we have this. It’s one of those things we ended up cutting.” In true Abrams fashion, the brief moment plays against the backdrop of Star Trek-ian dramatics, with water showering over Cumberbatch as he stares ominously. (Maybe thinking up his next move?)
I’m just glad it wasn’t a nude shower scene of Chris Pine they’d cut out. I know this isn’t huge news. But as an erotic romance author I find these little things both interesting and silly sometimes. We’re not watching Star Trek just for sexual reasons. We like it for many reasons. But the fact is that Cumberbatch and Chris Pine are extremely attractive men and if they had faces like mud fences we most likely wouldn’t be watching Star Trek. So why the need to always cut out what might be a great sexy scene? It’s not like we want Chris Pine or Cumberbatch to drop the soap or anything in the shower.
E.L. James photo attribution here.