The internet exploded today with the announcement that Amazon is launching an e-book publishing platform that will pay people for their fanfiction. It is called Kindle Worlds, and it is making our brain hurt with all of the questions it prompts about copyright, canon, and creativity. Here are the details on the platform that will expand the worlds of all Alloy Entertainment properties, including our faves Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl:

What Is Fanfiction?

Basically, Amazon has decided to capitalize on the massive market that is online fanfiction, or stories using the world and/or characters of other authors’ works. You may have heard of a little book called Fifty Shades of Grey? Well, that started as a Twilight fanfic. As in, Christian=Edward and Anastasia=Bella. The online work was so wildly popular that author E.L. James rewrote as an original work and made piles and piles of money. This may have captured Amazon’s interest.

How Will Kindle Worlds Work?

In the Kindle Worlds model, fanfic authors will submit short stories, novellas, or novels to Amazon. Amazon will sort through those submissions, and keep the ones they want, publishing them in e-book format for anywhere between $0.99 and $3.99. For the works they do publish, authors will be given 35 percent of the net profit for works measuring more than 10,000 words. For a stories between 5,000 and 10,000 words, the author will get 20 percent of the net profit.

Where does the rest of the money go? Well, some of it goes to the author of the original work, who will receive royalty fees from every sale. Amazon does not go into details about the rest, but the online publisher will presumably get a majority of it.

Which Worlds?

So far, Amazon has only made a licensure agreement with Alloy Entertainment, but this is a pretty good start considering the media conglomerate holds the rights to Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, and Gossip Girl (among others). There will be presumably be more “worlds” added down the road, as Amazon said it is “engaged with additional rights holders from different areas of entertainment—books, games, TV, movies and music — and looks forward to announcing future deals soon.” 

What Can’t Be Written About?

There are some restrictions. Kindle Worlds will not accept anything with pornographic elements, which actually rules out a sizeable chunk of existing fanfiction (for example, 50 Shades  would probably not have been accepted). Other no-nos: offensive content (i.e. racial slurs, excessive violence or foul language), crossovers with other worlds (sorry, stories about the Little Liars getting accepted into Hogwarts will not fly on Kindle Worlds), and copyright infringement (other than the obvious). The restriction list also includes “poor customer experience,” which - as far as we can tell  means “don’t suck.”

When Is This Happening?

Mark your calendars for June, because that’s when Kindle Worlds will be launched. At launch, the store will include more than 50 original works of literature set in the aforementioned fandoms, some from established authors like Barbara Freethy, John Everson and Colleen Thompson. The self-service submission platform will also be available starting in June, which will allow anyone to submit their fan fiction for consideration.

What do you think of Kindle Worlds? Will you be shopping there? Let us know in the comments below!