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What The Heck Is This KindleWorlds Thing?

A couple of weeks ago, I read about a new Amazon venture, one that seemed to divide the ranks among authors. When I learned that friend, writer and editor Alicia Dean was one of the debut authors, I snatched her up to explain to Ruby readers what the heck is this Kindle Worlds thing.

Thank you for being here, Alicia. Take it away…

AliciaDeanColor-SmallIn early March, I received an email, then a phone call from Amazon publishing. They wanted to commission me to write stories for a new platform they were launching. The way I came on their radar was that my novel, Heart of the Witch, was part of the Dorchester titles acquisition. The person handling that deal submitted my name to the person in charge of this new platform. She read my bio, saw that I loved Vampire Diaries, and the rest is (very recent) history. Of course, I was ecstatic–honored to be one of the authors Amazon sought out for their launch. When I found out one of the Universes I could choose from was Vampire Diaries, I was beyond ecstatic. Then I learned I could also write a Gossip Girl story. What??? Writing stories about my favorite shows AND receiving royalties for doing so? What could be better? The deadline was very short, but I set to work and ended up submitting, and they ended up accepting, two Vampire Diaries stories and one Gossip Girl story. And I intend to submit more.

I was unable to announce the news for a few months, then came the time that Amazon was ready to make it public and I was able to share my good news. But I soon learned that a lot of people didn’t think it was such great news. I began hearing a deluge of negativity—that it was a bad deal for the writers, a bad deal for the rights holders, and a bad deal for fans. I was taken aback to say the least.

I have heard this described as self-publishing but with a lower royalty percentage. This is not accurate. Although this is a self-service submission portal, and although some of the launch authors are self-published, this is not ‘self-publishing.’ Amazon will review all submissions to ensure they meet the License Holder guidelines and they will pay authors a 35% royalty. If authors wanted to publish TVD, GG, or PLL stories (and whatever other worlds are added) without going through this venue, there would be copyright issues. And they would not have Amazon behind them and their stories would not be listed on the Amazon storefront, which gives authors a phenomenal chance for exposure.

I feel this is an amazing opportunity for all writers, whether or not you are self-published, and all readers who love these shows, whether or not you read fanfiction.

Some of the negative comments I’m seeing are…

Amazon retains rights to the story for the entirety of the copyright.

SO??? I would not plan to publish the story anywhere else. I have a lot of other stories to write. Amazon is welcome to these. Amazon is the only reason I am writing them.imagesGG

The concept is unfair.

To whom? The World Licensor earns royalties. The author earns royalties. Amazon earns royalties. Readers can enjoy stories about their favorite shows. One of which, Gossip Girl, is no longer airing. This gives fans who miss the show a way to continue enjoying it. Who is suffering in this scenario?

This is unfair to the license holders.

The license holder AGREED to this. That is why Amazon only has three World Licensors they have announced thus far. Only three have entered into an agreement with them. Amazon is not taking anything from anyone. They are making an offer and those interested are accepting. It is just that simple.

Amazon will acquire rights to your new stories, characters, scenes, events.

Um…so what. Why would I write something into these Kindle Worlds stories that I planned to use in any of my other works? I would never write a Vampire Diaries character and then stick that character into my other stories. They belong in the TVD world.

 If they use one of your ideas, you will not receive further compensation.

FINE by me! These TV episodes are written with a room full of writers tossing out ideas. Only a certain number of the writers are credited. They get paid a salary, just like we will get paid our royalties. Again, not seeing a problem here. Besides, trust me, if I ever had the privilege of watching Joseph Morgan or Ian Somerhalder acting out one of my scenes, I would not complain. Not even a little bit.

The fanfiction community will never accept this

These stories are not ‘only’ for the fanfiction community, although we would love to have them as readers. These stories are for fans of these shows, whether or not they read or write fanfic. It is another venue to enjoy shows that we are obsessed with and a way for authors to share their love of that show with the public.

imagesTVDThis is not what the fanfiction community is all about, among other problems with this venue, Fanfiction is building on one another’s stories

I think the fanfiction community will enjoy the stories and the opportunity. The authors writing these do not need to build on one another’s stories. We want to create our own, based on the shows we love. I feel certain this will appeal to many in the fanfiction world, and most definitely to many TVD, GG, and PLL fans. Of course it will not appeal to all. But that’s okay.

If I correctly understand the fanfiction world, pretty much everyone who reads it writes it too. That is not necessarily the case here. These stories are for all readers, even those who have no desire or intent to write, but would love to read more about characters and worlds they’ve fallen in love with. After all, we authors who wrote these stories are just those kind of fans.

This new program is being touted as a way for fan fiction writers to finally get paid. My situation is a bit different. I don’t write–or even read–fan fiction. Rather than a fan fiction writer who now has a way to publish my fan fiction stories, I am an obsessive TV fan who now gets to write about two of my favorite shows.  This really isn’t much different from the tie-in novels for shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Star Trek, etc, which has been widely accepted for years.

Maybe this isn’t for everyone. I would say if you disagree with the program, then you probably shouldn’t submit a story. But for those of us who are ecstatic about the idea, we will continue to write about the characters and the worlds we love. And guess what? We’ll make money doing it. Win-win in my book (no pun intended). 😉

Sound interesting? Once the program launches, it will be open to submissions from all authors. Click HERE for details.

First of all, congratulations to Alicia for her soon-to-be released Kindle Worlds novels:  What The Heart Wants, Divine Enemy (Vampire Diaries) and We All Fall Down (Gossip Girl), and thank you for sharing your story! I’m never opposed to making money from doing something I love! 

What about you, Ruby readers, time to weigh in-did this clear up misconceptions, make you consider/reconsider your point of view if you’ve already been reading about Kindle Worlds? If this is the first you’ve heard of it, what do you think?

About Alicia Dean:

Alicia Dean lives in Edmond, Oklahoma and is the mother of three grown children. Alicia loves creating spine-chilling stories that keep readers on the edge of their seats. She’s a huge Elvis Presley fan, and loves MLB and the NFL. If you look closely, you’ll see a reference to one or all three in pretty much everything she writes. If she could, she would divide all her time between writing, watching her favorite television shows-such as Dexter, Vampire Diaries, Justified, (Gossip Girl before it was canceled), and True Blood-and reading her favorite authors…Stephen King, Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, and Lisa Gardner to name a few. For more about her books, please check her website: http://aliciadean.com/

 

 

68 responses to “What The Heck Is This KindleWorlds Thing?”

  1. Diana Layne says:

    Hi, Alicia, thanks for being here with us! I find the whole concept intriguing and have to admit if they were to get rights to the Pirate of the Caribbeans franchise (hahaha, like that’ll happen), I’d jump at the chance. 🙂

    What is the word count on these novels?

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Thanks so much for having me. The word count is 10,000 words up for the 35% royalty. They are doing an experimental thing for stories with fewer words at 20% royalty, I believe.

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  2. Anna Erishkigal says:

    Every summer when work quiets down I write an ‘epic fanfiction’ (i.e., novel length). It’s un-edited derbiage, what I do instead of watching television. While doing it, I build an enormous audience of readers hanging on my next post. I solicit feedback from those readers of what they like, what they don’t like, what needs to be debugged as a writer, and, most importantly…

    I throw out ideas for new, original, plot ideas and O.C.’s (original characters)…

    And then I copyright it. Why? Because the O.C’s the fans love are the ones I can take out of that ‘universe,’ put them on a NEW stage, and write an entire book about them. More importantly, those fans will follow you over to the new book, which is yours, 100% yours, because those characters were not part of the original fandom.

    Angel of Death: A Love Story is two O.C.’s from a Legion fanfiction. I have pre-AOD fanart my fanfiction readers loved these two OC’s so much. I have fans clamoring for me to release stories based off my fanfiction which has ridiculously little to do with the original movie.

    My Avengers fanfiction STILL gets 300 hits per day and I get fans asking me all the time to write a novel about ‘the Chitauri babies.’ At some point, I’ll get around to it…

    WHY IN HELL WOULD ANY AUTHOR BE FOOLISH ENOUGH TO GIVE THAT AWAY??? FOREVER!!!

    It’s one thing to write fanfiction because you just enjoy doing it. Where else do you get to connect directly with readers who love the same stories and characters that you do and trot out the characters some other author you love created and start trotting them through YOUR OWN stage. It’s like playing Barbies. For writers…

    SO LONG AS that is all you do with Amazon (merely rehash some underwritten scene from a movie/tv series and flesh it out for readers) then taking advantage of the Amazon tie-in’s is merely writing for hire, as journalists have done before, and I don’t see a problem with it.

    But it’s another thing entirely to sell your ‘babies’ to the devil before they’ve even had a chance to be born and take their first breath. Be aware of the caveats of taking advantage of this program, because the way Amazon does business, if anything at all, whatsoever, beyond the original universe comes out of your writing and Amazon wants to option it, THEY WILL OWN IT!!! NOT YOU!!! AND THEIR TERMS OF CONTRACT EXPLICITLY STATES IT AS THUS!!!

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hello Anna,

      Thank you for your input and for stopping by. It sounds like you have a great thing going with your stories. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to be a part of this totally different venue, just as I wouldn’t want to be a part of yours. I can’t speak for the other authors, but in my stories I did not ‘rehash some underwritten scene.’ I took the storyline in a different direction, one that my love for the show and my imagination conjured up. But then, I don’t consider any of the scenes in these shows ‘underwritten.’ I think the writers are doing a stellar job without my help.

      As far as being ‘foolish’ enough to give away my O.C.’s (Original Characters), the only O.C.’s I created are the ones that belong in Mystic Falls and The Upper East Side. They wouldn’t fit in any other world, so Amazon can have them. Forever. I don’t consider Amazon to be ‘the devil’ but I am totally okay with terminating my parental rights and allowing Amazon to adopt my babies. I truly believe they can give them a much better life than I ever could.

      For those who write fanfiction because they enjoy doing it, that’s great, and they should keep doing that. I don’t write fanfiction. I am a multi-published author who was offered an opportunity to showcase new work in a whole new way, and I’m ecstatic about it. If it’s ‘writing for hire’ that works for me.

      Your final comment about their terms explicitly stating that they will own it, pretty much sums up my last point perfectly. Amazon is being up front. They are letting authors know exactly how this works. Authors who disagree should stay away from this program. I am happily jumping in with both feet.

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  3. I don’t really see a problem with this. I think of it as writing something for fun that I would never publish otherwise. I have a lot of other book projects I’m working on at any given time and this would just be a break from those story worlds.

    I can see how an author might feel differently if they’ve been writing fan fiction for a while or if a writer only writes books for kindle worlds and the idea is taken and used for a show or movie. But my goal would not be to be hired by the studios for tie-ins or to build a career from these stories.

    I see it as a chance to get paid to write about a show that I love and get paid for it. I wouldn’t expect more from it than that. Though I probably would not submit a novel, only novellas or short stories, because that would take away time from all of the books already on my schedule.

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi Vivienne,

      Very well said. There will be different things about this that appeal to various authors and readers for various reasons. There will be things about this that don’t appeal at all. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. Thank you for the clarification. Exciting times. Congratulations.

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  5. Melissa Keir says:

    What an interesting concept. I’m sure that this will appeal to many readers who love to weave stories about their favorite characters and television shows. I am intrigued. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      You’re welcome, Melissa. And thank you! It sounds like fun for everyone to me, LOL. At least those who are interested in the shows. 🙂

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  6. Liz crowe says:

    I don’t watch enough television (I have maybe 2 shows per year that I record and watch in marathons) to want to try and craft a story out of one as my creative energy gets enough of a workout coming up with original plots. However, I certainly salute you for all your successes and congratulate you on finding a away to use your love for tv shows in a way that nets you a bit of cash.
    (although, if Mad Men ever gets optioned, I am so in—I would make bad boy Don Draper into the Dom he wants to be but can’t ever seem to conjure!)

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    • Margaret Taylor says:

      Liz, I can soooo see you doing that too!

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Thanks! I am pulled in a thousand different directions at any given time, and my creative energy takes a beating often, LOL. But I purposely focused on this and it was surprisingly easy. The stories flowed. One advantage was having the world and characters already in place. I knew them as well as I know many of my friends. (maybe better)

      Ah, Mad Men. I have always been curious about that show but never watched. I think I would love it. Maybe I can find time to add another to my schedule. Have a great day!

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  7. Margaret Taylor says:

    Hello Alicia,

    First off, thank you for being brave enough to share this. I commend you for it.

    Personally, I think the negativity you’re seeing is from those that “don’t make it” either as self-pubbed or traditionally published. I won’t boil it down and say it’s purely jealousy, but I’m sure that plays a factor.

    As for me, I have to admit the very first thing I ever wrote was indeed Fan-Fic, though it wasn’t called that back in the day…*laughs* But it was a horribly written short story, probably 20k or so that involved me – as a rough and tumble DEA Agent and one Sonny Crockett (AKA Don Johnson) Yes, yes, I am totally dating myself, I know, but still. The man was H-O-T and my 14-15 year old little libido was head over heels in love with him!

    Back then, I couldn’t string a set of sentences together much less ever dream to get it published. But I did dream never the less and pounded it out on an old Royal Typewriter complete with my trusty eraser pencil for a backspace/delete key! (Yes, dating myself again, I know.)

    Now, does this mean I would ever think to submit to Kindle Worlds myself? Maybe. I love TVD, with all my heart, I would eat Damon up with a spoon given half the chance, but I don’t think I’m invested enough in the show to be worthy of writing about it.

    Thanks, but I’ll stick to my Sci-Fi and Paranormal worlds where people in space have every day problems just like we do, vampires are daywalkers that are perfectly happy being what they are and my shifters help those that can’t help themselves!

    However, I do applaud you for jumping in with both feet and having the tenacity to defend that position. I wish you and Kindle Worlds the very best of luck!

    Margaret

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi Margaret,

      No worries about dating yourself. I’m right there along with you. LOL How funny that you wrote fanfic before there was fanfic. That’s so cool! So nice to ‘meet’ a fellow TVD fan. Ah, yes…Damon. Sigh… And Klaus is my new obsession. He’s delightful!

      It sounds like you have your hands full with the ‘worlds’ you write in. Very intriguing stuff. Thank you so much for the well wishes and kind words. Happy Writing!

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  8. Hi, Alicia 🙂
    All I know is that you are a fantastic writer (and editor, both of these things I know firsthand), and you absolutely love these television programs. Therefore, you being a part of this Amazon project just makes sense. Plus, it makes you HAPPY, which makes me ecstatic right along with you. You get to do what you do best, love doing it AND get paid for it. Wow. How many people can say that? I think it’s good to listen to other people’s opinions, but don’t take them to heart.
    Nathan Brown,Oklahoma Poet Laureate, introduced me to this quote a couple of months ago:
    “Know your own bone, gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.”
    —Henry David Thoreau, on originality.

    I think it’s very fitting. I think you know your own bone 🙂

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Awww, love you, Anna! You are so sweet in your unwavering support. I like that quote. A lot. Yes, I think this is my bone. I’ve buried a few and will continue to gnaw on those too. Thanks so much.

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  9. Liz Talley says:

    Very interesting world revealed to me here. I’m amazed at how much is going on out in the publishing world that I don’t know about, so thank you for being here and discussing the takeaways of this new venture. I’m not at all familiar with fan fiction, but it sounds like you’ve found something that satisfies you creatively and will bring new readers into your arena. Congrats on the venture!

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Yes, Liz. I am amazed at the way publishing is constantly changing. Impossible to keep up with everything. I wasn’t familiar with fanfiction either. I’d heard of it of course, but didn’t really know what it was about. Once I started hearing all the uproar, I decided to check it out. Now I’m familiar with it, but this platform seems a bit different to me. Thank you so much for the congrats!

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  10. Thanks, Alicia. I didn’t know much about KindleWorlds, and your blog is a great help. Congratulations on being one of their debut authors. Sounds like fun.

    I’ll be watching closely, hoping some of my old favorite shows pop up. I imagine over time, there will be a wide range of licence holders agreeing to this.

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Thank you, Bev. Yes, it was tons of fun. I imagine there will be several more on board too. It will be interesting to see which ones are added. The thing is, it’s not just television shows. It can potentially be movies, literature, video games, and comic books too. All kinds of things to choose from.

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  11. Thank you for sharing! These have been my thoughts on the new kindle worlds and I’m excited about it. It seems like a great way for authors to gain exposure with a whole new set of readers.

    Has anyone heard when it will launch? Or is that top secret information for now?

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      You’re welcome, and thank you. It’s nice to read so many positive responses. I guess not all people think this is a bad thing. 🙂 I guess the naysayers are just making the bigger fuss so it seems like that is the general consensus.

      No exact release date yet. If they are keeping it secret, they are keeping it secret from the authors too. If you go to this line: http://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?ie=UTF8&docId=1001197421, you can sign up to be notified of release dates and when new worlds are added.

      I’m watching my email daily for a notice on release dates! 🙂

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  12. June Love says:

    Alicia, welcome to the blog and thank you for sharing your information about KindleWorlds. Once I get pulled into my wip, I tend to wear blinders and miss a lot of what’s happening. KindleWorlds is an example of something I’ve missed hearing/reading about.

    As a fan of tv, probably watching more shows than I should, I don’t understand why this is a bad thing. I’m not a writer or reader of fanfiction, so maybe I’m missing something. Regardless, it sounds like you’re doing something you love, so Congratulations! I hope you’re having a blast with it.

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi June,

      Thank you for the kind welcome. They were keeping this hush-hush until the press release, so the word has only been out for a few weeks. That could be why you weren’t aware. I’m not sure I would be aware if I weren’t a launch author.

      I also watch way too much tv. I know I do, but I love it, so I’m probably not going to stop. 🙂 Yes, this seems different from actual fanfiction to me. I am loving it and I’m so excited for the opportunity. Thank you again!

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  13. Vivi Andrews says:

    I know a writer who was hired to do much the same for Toy Story and the Bratz franchise. This kind of thing has been around for a while, not surprising Amazon saw an opportunity in it. I don’t follow the shows involved, but as long as the original creators agree this seems like a win-win. Congrats, Alicia!

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi Vivi,

      Yes, a fellow author friend of mine has written for Buffy and Angel and, I believe, Roswell. Probably others. This seems quite similar to me too. I wonder why there wasn’t a lot of uproar over that? Probably has something to do with this being done by Amazon. People seem to fear Amazon at times. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the congrats!

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  14. Elisa Beatty says:

    This is fascinating, and all new to me!

    It does seem that for those who want to do this as a sideline and have lots of others stories / characters / settings for books they might publish by other means, it could be a good thing. As long as the terms feel comfortable to you, why not?

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi Elisa,

      Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I have plenty of other ideas and stories apart from this that it’s a great sideline. You’re right, and it feels comfortable to me. 🙂 Thanks again!

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  15. What a fascinating post! I have a feeling the negativity has more to do with Amazon being seen as the “Evil Empire” of publishing and therefore anything they do is going to be suspect until it isn’t.

    I actually got back into writing after retiring from my opera career by writing fan fiction based on a particular character in my favorite soap opera. There were a couple of sites dedicated to it and I landed on one by accident, read a few stories and decided to try my hand. I think the sites are defunct now and I am fairly certain my stories will never see the light of day again, but it got me into the habit of writing every day, I got some great feedback and encouragement and it was fun.

    I can see where this would be a great place to stretch your chops, try something new and do something fun as a break from this often stressful business of writing for publication.

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      I am sure you’re right. Amazon has treated me very well, but there are a lot of people out there who fear/hate them. The thing is, other booksellers/publishers had the opportunity to do all the things Amazon is doing, but Amazon is the one who did it. So they are reaping the benefits. How interesting that you wrote stories about your favorite soap (I used to be an avid soap opera watcher)…and that you retired from an opera career. Thanks for stopping by.

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  16. Thank you, Alicia. I couldn’t have said it better myself! As one of those authors who submitted and won a contract for my version of Gossip Girl, I was shocked to hear the negativity–all of which was speculation.

    One other point I’d like to add is that in addition to making some very good money, I’m also getting name recognition. What could possibly be wrong with that?

    Thanks for your post

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      You’re welcome, Carolyn, and thank you for your comment. I’m glad you agree. And yes, the exposure is a definite plus. So nice to ‘meet’ a fellow Gossip Girl author. Wasn’t that so much fun? I can’t wait to read your story. Have a wonderful weekend!

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  17. Bonnie Dee says:

    As a former fanfic writer in the Buffyverse and The OC, I’m very interested in Amazon’s new platform. One of the questions it raises for me is this: sometimes I would set an alternate version of events type story between thus and such episode and the next. Not happy with how the show runners handled things? Your story veers off in a totally new direction.

    For cancelled shows such as Gossip Girl, are you adding onto canon from the end of the series, or would your timeline be concurrent with earlier events? I’ve only recently started watching GG and I could see me actually working with this material. I’d just like to know more about what they’re looking for. And yes, I read Amazon’s info about it top to bottom, but I’m still not getting a feel for what they want. Nor any mention of length that I saw.

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi Bonnie,

      It’s nice to hear from a former fanfiction writer who thinks this is a good thing. Maybe the naysayers are a minority. 🙂 As far as what they want, when I was working with the Senior Editor in the beginning, she said I could take the story from where the tv show left off or I could recreate past events, anything goes as long as you follow the guidelines, mainly no explicit content and no crossing with other universes. You can read the guidelines on the Amazon website.

      For my stories, when I was offered this opportunity, Vampire Diaries was on a three week hiatus. I took my story from the point where the last episode before the hiatus left off. I didn’t watch the new episodes until I’d finished my two stories because I didn’t want to see what the show was doing and be influenced (or jealous I didn’t think of it, LOL). For Gossip Girl, I watched to the end of Season 5 and took my story up at that point. I still haven’t had a chance to watch Season 6. All three of my stories ended with cliff hangers.

      As far as word count, here is what Amazon’s site says about it:

      Amazon Publishing will pay royalties to the rights holder for the World (we call them World Licensors) and to you. Your standard royalty rate for works of at least 10,000 words will be 35% of net revenue.
      In addition, with the launch of Kindle Worlds, Amazon Publishing will pilot an experimental new program for particularly short works (between 5,000 and 10,000 words). For these short stories—typically priced under one dollar—Amazon will pay the royalties for the World Licensor and will pay authors a digital royalty of 20% of net revenue. The lower royalty for these shorter works is due to significantly higher fixed costs per digital copy (for example, credit-card fees) when prices for the entire class of content will likely be under one dollar.

      Hope this helps. If you have any more questions, you can email me at AliciaMDean@aol.com. I don’t know how much I can answer, but I will try.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  18. Kim Hornsby says:

    Good For You!!!!
    Great opportunity and Kindle is getting a fantastic author and fan for this project.
    I write a novella series patterned after The Bachelor and it got 1200 (Free) Downloads this week on KDP Select Free. Readers like this sort of thing!
    Kim

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    • Alicia Dean says:

      Hi Kim…thank you for the kind words. Yes, people do love that sort of thing. Very cool idea on the Bachelorette story. Sounds like it was a hit. 🙂

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  19. […] you’d like to read more about the pros and cons of authoring a book in Kindle Worlds, read What the Heck is This Kindle Worlds Thing? Alicia Dean answers the concerns that many authors […]

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