Kindle Worlds: Success or Failure?

Kindle WorldsGigaOM has this interesting little write-up about the Kindle Worlds program. This Kindle sub-category allows authors to write—and profit from—their own fan stories from worlds such as Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl.

My only personal experience with these books has been an anthology—and a freebie first-in-series from an author represented in said anthology—set in Hugh Howey’s Wool world. They were okay. I think they were nicely done, and reasonably polished and professional-looking. I did ultimately conclude that I would not be perusing any further Wool titles, but I do think the ones I saw seemed reasonable enough.

So, where is the problem? Well, I did not pursue the Kindle Worlds idea any further because as a reader, none of the other represented ‘worlds’ really appealed to me, and as a theoretical author, I was not eligible to participate because I am not American. As the GigaOM article points out, I am not the only potential author who can’t play, and therein lies the problem: Amazon also bars people under 18, who are some of the most ‘prolific’ fanfic authors, and further imposes limitations in some instances on what authors can do with the series characters:

In the case of G.I. Joe, for instance, the villain can’t wear a Yankees cap. Characters in other works can’t use drugs or employ profane language. And gay, bisexual or deviant sexual behavior might be off-limits too.

The result, the article says, is bland, boring stuff that doesn’t excite its potential target audience:

One fan fiction enthusiast cited by the paper likens Kindle Worlds to a playground of “five quiet, clean, polite children carefully playing together while helicopter parents hovered overhead …

Again, my own experience with the ‘Kindle Worlds’ is limited. But I know we have some fanfic fans here. So, do you agree or disagree? Is Kindle Worlds an exciting opportunity for authors and readers, or is it an overly sanitized walled garden of limited appeal?

1 Comment on Kindle Worlds: Success or Failure?

  1. Is Kindle Worlds an exciting opportunity for authors and readers, or is it an overly sanitized walled garden of limited appeal?

    It’s both.

    Kindle Worlds is work for hire producing licensed tie-ins under contracts with creative parameters set by the rights holders, not by Amazon. The writers own nothing they create or add to the worlds they’re working in. Requiring authors be old enough to sign contracts, for a tightly regulated walled garden, are the only way Kindle Worlds would ever be possible.

    I said it’s both is because of the Vampire Diaries. The creator of the books that inspired the TV show is writing Kindle Worlds books as essentially fanfic of her own books. She wrote all of the original books as work for hire for a packager for 20+ years, until they dropped her several years ago to make future books follow the TV show storylines. She’s continuing the story as she planned it and the books she’s written so far are currently #2 and #3 on the Kindle World chart. So it’s obviously working for her and her readers.

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