• Welcome to The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz.


Latest Shout



May 25, 2024, 03:03:41 PM
He could hop on the one I failed to mention but would be important to have for someone travelling from town to town frequently.
  • Total Members: 175
  • Latest: CathyAj
  • Total Posts: 27,665
  • Total Topics: 2,744
  • Online today: 25
  • Online ever: 930
  • (January 20, 2020, 11:58:07 AM)
Users Online
Users: 0
Guests: 14
Total: 14
Facebook External hit
Bing (2)
Welcome to The Worlds of Katherine Kurtz. Please login.

May 26, 2024, 01:48:26 AM

Login with username, password and session length

Adding the Deryni setting to Kindle Worlds?

Started by JimJ, March 06, 2014, 12:23:34 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Apologies if I posted this in the wrong place, but I was wondering if KK had considered entering her Deryni world to the Kindle Worlds program to allow writers to write fan fiction and earn royalties on sales.

Here's the link to Kindle Worlds if you're not familiar with it: https://kindleworlds.amazon.com/

Basically, writers write stories and submit them, they go up for sale, and each purchase nets the writer, Amazon, and the intellectual property owner a percentage of royalties.


Hi there,

Katherine is very receptive and generous about fans writing fanfiction in her universe, so long as it is for the mutual enjoyment of the author and their  fan audience. And as long it is on a not-for-profit basis. She does ask that if we use canonical characters, that we don't make them do things that go completely against their nature, literarily speaking. I'm not saying she would be immediately hostile to the Kindle Universe concept, but once money starts changing hands, things just DO get more complicated.  It also sounds like this arrangement would make intellectual property issues more complicated. Since the books are the largest part of Katherine's livelihood, I think it's fair to say she and her publishers would approach this idea with extreme caution.

You can have a sound mind in a healthy body--Or you can be a nanonovelist!


So that's how that works!  I had wondered how Amazon was getting away with selling fanfic, but if the intellectual property owner gives consent and can actually financially profit from the sale of fanfic works, then that's a whole new ball game.   ;D   That seems like it would be a win-win scenario, at least if the intellectual property owner can set down rules as to how his/her world and characters may and may not be used.  (Just thinking back to the debacle a few decades ago when the Pern fandom Weyrs were nearly shut down because a few idiots thought it would be fun to publish pornographic stories depicting Anne McCaffrey's copyrighted characters....)

No, I have no idea if KK even knows about this option, but it sounds like an interesting question to bring up in chat, since I don't know how often she checks the forum for questions.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


There are some big players in this market now, and they can set conditions. Hugh Howey has licensed his "Wool" universe, I believe, with the stipulation that people stay away from the silos he is writing about. There's also The Vampire Diaries, and Kurt Vonnegut, amongst others.


I can see where this type of arrangement would work in worlds where the original author is no longer contributing new stories. But if the original author still has plans to write new material, than that original author might suddenly feel constrained where a fan fiction story covered a subject or a time of interest. This is why so many fan-fiction sites recommend that original authors don't read the fan-fiction for their worlds. This contributed to(among other things) my own fear of putting something out on the web.

I'm not sure it would be in KK's best interested until she it completely retired from this world.

Also I noted that only 20% of the fanfic can be placed as free samples on a website or blog.  I personally found it more rewarding to share something free with people who are responsive, than to make a penny off of it and get criticized.
May your horses have wings and fly!


Quote from: Laurna on March 06, 2014, 04:01:59 PM
I can see where this type of arrangement would work in worlds where the original author is no longer contributing new stories. But if the original author still has plans to write new material, than that original author might suddenly feel constrained where a fan fiction story covered a subject or a time of interest. This is why so many fan-fiction sites recommend that original authors don't read the fan-fiction for their worlds.

I think that would be covered by this clause from the Kindle Worlds Publishing Agreement:

You agree that the New Elements are available for unrestricted use by us without any additional compensation, notification or attribution, including that we may allow other Kindle Worlds authors, the World Licensor and other third parties to use the New Elements.

So according to this, once a fanfic writer signed this agreement and published their fanfic as a Kindle Worlds story, any original characters, settings, etc. could be used not only by other fanfic writers in Kindle Worlds, but also by the original author (the World Licensor) if they so choose.   Granted, I suspect most authors would simply consider such fanfictional elements to be "alternate universe," having absolutely no bearing upon what direction they choose to take their future stories, just as fanfic outside of the Kindle Worlds collection currently doesn't (or at least shouldn't) restrict an author's liberty to take whatever direction they wish to take with their stories.  However, unlike fanfic written outside of this important legal restriction, this contract explicitly protects an original author (World Licensor) from some idiot trying to sue him/her for using ideas drawn from a derivative work, whether intentionally or by accident.  So an Original Author not only stands to gain royalties from other people's fanfic if they choose to sign on with Kindle Worlds, but also their own authorial rights are better protected by having the rights and limitations of all parties specified by a formal contract.

I don't think the availability of Kindle Worlds (or any other similar ideas that might be out there) would make free fanfiction sites such as Fanfiction.net any less popular.  What it would do is allow worldbuilding authors, fanfic writers and readers more options.  Kindle Worlds doesn't restrict a fanfic author from being able to publish freely in other venues; one simply can't offer the same story for free on a different site while publishing it and charging for it on Amazon.  And that makes sense; why would readers pay for it if they can read it for free elsewhere? (Granted, fanfic authors who write in complete story arcs like I do might find it harder to separate stories in such a way, since the rights to the New Elements in the Kindle Worlds stories would also belong to Amazon and the World Licensor.  So if Lady Jane Doe were a character introduced in a Kindle Worlds fanfic, I suspect that would mean she couldn't be used in free fanfics posted to Fanfiction.net as well, even if those were different stories.  But in theory a fanfic writer could write some free short stories for Fanfiction.net featuring Alaric Morgan interacting with Hank the Forester, and then go to Kindle Worlds to publish a novella or two featuring Alaric interacting with Torvald the Greedy Torenthi Border Lord under completely separate circumstances that never mention Hank at all, and as long as those two story arcs don't happen to intersect in any way, everything's kosher.)   But what I can see happening is authors opting to keep all or some of their shorter stories available on an alternate website (their own or some place like Fanfiction.net) for free, but deciding to publish novel-length work with Kindle Worlds, where they can hope to get some return back on the investment of all that time, energy, and "sweat equity" that goes into months or even years of labor on a story that otherwise can't be sold.  It gives incentive to writers of longer works to keep on creating them, knowing that their efforts have authorial blessing (i.e., you aren't spending weeks or months of your life writing stories essentially on the down-low and just praying the owner of that world really won't mind, or worse, go after you with a lawsuit the way some authors do when they hear about fanfic based on their work), and without fear that a fanfic idea might prevent the Licensor from incorporating the same or a similar premise into Official Canon later if it's a truly worthy idea.

To put this into practical terms, just for the sake of discussion, let's pretend that KK signed up to be a World Licensor for Kindle Worlds and I decided to transfer my stories to that stable.   KK would immediately have the right, if she so chose, to use any of the New Elements from my stories--the Kingdom of Llyr, my younger Arilans, my "maidens of mayhem," etc.  Now, she wouldn't be required to use any of these in future works--as far as she's concerned, they could all remain "alternate universe" and not affect her future plans a whit.  But on the other hand, if she decided she liked the idea of plaguing poor Denis Arilan's life by introducing Sextus into a future story, or if she decided she liked the idea of Teymuraz causing a fever-flux plague throughout the land, or what not, she would also have the legal right to incorporate those ideas into her own work, because that's part of what the fanfic authors signing into this type of contract are agreeing to.  It becomes a case of "If you're going to play in my sandbox, I'll let you do that with my blessing and even give you the right to make some profit from it, but in exchange for that right, you waive your right to restrict me from playing however I choose to in my own sandbox that I built in the first place, even if you came up with some ideas before me!"  And that's the all important clause that makes Original Authors allowing fanfic writers to create derivative works without these legal protections so leery of reading those non-protected fan works.   Simply by allowing other writers to play in their worlds, the argument has been up until now, they were failing to protect their own copyrights, and therefore had less of a leg to stand on if they tried to defend their worlds from a fanfic writer trying to take unfair advantage.  Kindle Worlds appears to be trying to create a venue that protects authors' legal rights while simultaneously granting fanfic writers more legal rights as well.  And I see that as a very good thing, in that encouraging fan-created writing often brings more readers' attentions to the canonical works they are based on, while at the same time allowing a more beginner-friendly playing field for fledgling writers to hone their skills in the craft before they build new worlds of their own and become professionally published authors in their own right.   I have known quite a few authors who cut their writing teeth writing fanfic before they became professional authors.  And in a publishing setup of this sort, they can more easily do so while having some legal protections that they don't normally have now (outside of Kindle Worlds, that is), not to mention that having some chance of earning royalties even from fan-based work is a pretty cool motivator.  Just speaking for myself, yes, I write for the love of it.  And yes, simply reading the comments on my work is reward enough to keep me plugging away at it.  But would it be even more rewarding to have both the comments and an extra buck or two in my bank account at the end of the month?  Hells to the yeah, it would!   :D  And if an author whose work I love so well that I've spent years writing in her sandbox were ever to find one of my ideas inspirational enough to incorporate elements of it into her canon, would I be flattered beyond belief?  Others' mileage may vary, but for me the chance of being able to give something tangible back to an author and world that has brought me so much enjoyment would be worth even more than a chance of making royalties from a fannish work.

Also keep in mind that there are professional authors who don't write fanfic anymore not because they don't want to, but because they have only 24 hours in a day just like the rest of us, so if they have to choose between publishing stories they can get paid for and stories they have no chance of profiting on, then that means the only fanfic available for the rest of us is almost necessarily that written by amateurs.  I have read a few pieces of fanfic written by authors who write for a living, but it's rare.  An arrangement like this gives an author who makes a living from writing a little more incentive to "play" in a licensed fanfic world, since they are still working on stories that can bring in royalties, plus benefit another author in the process.  I imagine it might also make shared world rights easier to manage, if a primary author wanted to invite other professional authors to play in her sandbox.

Finally, as someone who hopes to publish original fiction someday, if anyone were to want to write fanfic of my work, I would find a Kindle Worlds or similar sort of contract preferable to the current "don't ask, don't tell" or "read your fan's work at your own risk" setup that has existed up to this point, both for the protections described above and also because, darn it, it's MY sandbox, and therefore I'd want to be able to lay out clear boundaries for what fanfic writers may and may not do with my worlds and characters if they wish to play in my sandbox, and have those boundaries legally protected rather than just hope blindly that all of my fans will respect my wishes on the matter.  That way if, say, some person decides to write Tales of the Soulcatcher porn fanfic using my original Kameshi characters in very out-of-character ways, I do have the legal right to say, "Sorry, Amazon, that story doesn't meet my criteria; you can't publish that; the story violates the terms of our World License."  (Actually, from what I read in the FAQ, I suspect it would get shot down by Amazon anyway before that even becomes an issue the author has to become involved with.)  Or if I'm halfway through Book Two and discover someone has written a licensed fanfic with a plot going in a similar direction, I don't have to delete my manuscript and start over again with a completely different story, because that other author's right to the idea became a shared right the moment they agreed to the contract. I have always encouraged fanfic writers, both as another fan writer and as a fanfic beta-reader and former fanzine editor, and would love to be able to continue to do so even if I ever "go pro."  But it would be much easier for me to do so if I had some assurance my own intellectual property rights would continue to be protected in the process.
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


QuoteAnd if an author whose work I love so well that I've spent years writing in her sandbox were ever to find one of my ideas inspirational enough to incorporate elements of it into her canon, would I be flattered beyond belief?

I very much feel this way too. Spending months on the computer writing was all about love of the work. Money was never a consideration and still isn't. It was truly about the accomplishment of a dream that I had before been denied and laughed at for trying. Regardless of good or bad results, I feel it was a major achievement in my life.  After all is said and done, the desire to share my elements with the original author or with another fanfic writer who would respect what I imagined does exist. To be able to legally do so without copy-write issues would be a boon. Because, as you say, fan-fiction is playing in the original author's sandbox; at the end of the day when the sandcastles are built, the fan-fiction writer goes home, but the sandbox stays in the original writer's backyard and therefore so does the sandcastle with hopefully the fanfic writer's signature still attached.

My concern would be for the original author. They should never feel obliged to accept the elements offered up by others. Their dreams may lead in completely opposing directions and legitimately it is the original author's dream that counts here. I would hate for the original author to feel obligated because they received money for letting someone play in their sandbox. They must have the right to ignore the fan-fiction work as an alternate universe  or to respectfully accept it. Their choice.

It is an interesting dilemma.
May your horses have wings and fly!


It is an interesting dilemma, but from another point of view as well.

The current story I am working on has a part of the story line that is vaguely similar to Elec's story.  It involves Deryni magic that is already generally established by KK (and was written before I read Elec's story), so I think it's OK to continue with it, especially since it may be important to a later story. And because I've gone too far to turn back! We all respect each other's efforts well enough, IMHO, to allow for this and happily cheer each other on.

However, once you begin to receive monetary profit for a story, this might cause some problems, or at least potential problems.
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany


The beauty of the Kindle Worlds type of world licensing arrangement, IMO, is that it actually grants both fanfic writers and the originating author more freedom without taking away any of the original author's original rights over his/her intellectual property.  Otherwise, sure, it would be hard to convince any author to license their worlds for fan writers to play in, if in doing so they were at risk of having their right to write whatever they wanted to write in future constrained in any way.  As the world's originator and licenser, they retain full control over their canonical world.  Therefore, just because a fanfic writer decides to take a storyline in a different direction than the original author plans, that doesn't take away the original author's right to ignore the fanfic-created storyline in any way.  The contract doesn't give the fanfic writer any rights over the author's canonical work, whether past, present, or in the future, aside from the right to write stories about those characters in a way that respects their original context, and the right to use the canonical setting in those stories.  With or without this sort of contract, the original author has always had the right to take the canonical story in any direction s/he chooses.

Where this style of formal agreement with fanfic writers differs, however, is that it ensures that if an original author happens to want to take the canonical storyline in the same direction that a fanfic writer has previously written about, then the author can't be sued by the fanfic writer claiming "S/he stole my idea!"  And that danger is why so many authors are leery of allowing fanfic writers to play in their worlds in the first place.  If, for instance, KK were ever to decide that she wants to give King Kelson some future son named Prince Brion Nigel Alaric Duncan Haldane, she shouldn't have to fear someone trying to sue her for using that name and claiming "I used that name in my fanfic story 'King Kelson Gets Laid' and KK stole it from me!  She owes me now!!!1!11!!!!"  And while it seems incredible that a fan would do that, those sorts of things have happened before.  A formal contract of this sort would allow fanfic writers to play in the licensor's world while spelling out that all rights to such fannish creations (the "New Elements") would subsequently belong to that licensed world and its licensor to use--or to NOT use--as they wish.  In other words, it's "Here are some rules that ensure you get to play in this world without the author having to give up any rights over it, and to help ensure it's much less likely that either side is going to end up having to sue the other at some point if some crazed fan's panties get in a twist."  So if that same fanfic writer tried to claim "KK stole my idea1!!1!11!!" under this type of formal agreement, Amazon would say the legal equivalent of "LOL, Nope!  Sorry, you voluntarily signed over your rights to the character 'Brion Nigel Alaric Duncan Haldane' the day you chose to publish under our license agreement.  KK has every bit as much right to use that name in her work as you do.  For that matter, any other fanfic writer who is writing in this world under our contract has an equal right to do so.  This contract doesn't obligate any other writer to use that character you've created, but you did give up the right to claim exclusive use of the idea when you agreed to publish in this licensed world, so read the small print again and play nicely with others!"  Now, if I've read it correctly, it does allow for a fanfic writer to get a percentage of the resulting royalties if that writer comes up with an idea that the originating author later decides to use in canon.  But in effect, that's the same thing that would have happened anyway if, outside of this contract, the original author were to directly approach another writer and say, "You know, I really like that idea and would like to use it in my own universe.  Can I use that and give you a percentage of the overall royalties in exchange for your contribution to the work?"  I think most authors would see that as fair, given the current and much less pleasant alternative of fearing to read any fannish work or even listen to a fan's ideas in order to lower the risk of having some fan scream "She plagiarized from me!" or else reading fanfic and listening to those ideas and mentally revising their own storyline and cautiously weighing the risks of continuing in their original direction whenever they discover a fan's ideas have verged a bit too closely to their own future plans for comfort.

From what I have seen of it so far, this sort of licensed world publishing agreement looks to be quite similar to the sorts of contracts that allow role-playing game companies to hire freelance writers to help create their game modules and sourcebooks.  There is some sort of a "shared world" aspect to that type of writing agreement as well, but IIRC the writers create content for those worlds with the knowledge that what they write will become property of the company, and they waive their own exclusive rights over the characters and settings they create for that particular game world.  If they want to write something that they can claim exclusive rights and royalties over, then it needs to be something completely original, not something written as part of that licensed world.  Having the rules and boundaries spelled out in the contract prevents some freelance writer from saying, "Well, I've had a falling out with the company that hired me to write this content for them, so I'm taking the settings and characters I created and selling them to some other gaming company, or else putting them in my own novel that doesn't have their imprint on it.  So there!"  But some bright person has seen that a similar concept can be applied to licensing worlds to grant fanfic writers official permissions to write fanfic within guidelines that protect both fanfic and professional authors. IMO it's a brilliant idea.  I just wish I'd thought of it first and sold Amazon on the concept.   ;)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!


So, what happens to forums like this one when authors decide it is more profitable and legally safer to allow fanfic only under Kindle Worlds?  Would the fanfic sections be killed off? That is one of the downsides I see to this.
"Loss and possession, death and life are one, There falls no shadow where there shines no sun."

Hilaire Belloc


I suspect the same thing will happen in future that is happening now.  That is,  there will continue to be more or less "official" venues where fans can share fanfic with less risk of being sued (Kindle Worlds, forums such as this one where an author knows perfectly well that fanfic is being posted and at least implicitly approves by not banning it outright as some authors and franchises do), and places like Fanfiction.net that most authors with a fanfic writer following are aware exist and can opt out of allowing fanfic written in their world to be shared there.  (If you are a fanfic author posting on FFN,  you have to agree to leave certain authors ' story worlds alone at those authors ' requests ).  So as things stand now,  any fanfic writer who posts a fanfic anywhere,  even on a private blog,  could get sued if the author or franchise owner is the very hyper- vigilant about rights sort.  Fortunately KK and a whole lot of authors aren't.  They want to protect their own rights,  but if they can do that without spoiling a fan writer's joy,  they're happy to turn a blind eye.  However,  there are authors who would love to be able to safely do more than turn a blind eye.  They'd love to read that fanfic too (after all,  imagine how it would feel to write a story so compelling and imagination stirring that others want to write about those characters and setting too.  Wouldn't you be curious to see other people's takes on your original idea? ), but under the traditional rules,  they are strongly discouraged from reading fanfic for their own protection.  Some authors try to find some compromise -- for instance,  the Deryni Archives fanzine or this forum for KK's fans,  or the approved fannish Weyrs of 1980s-1990s era Pern fandom,  which were allowed to exist as long as we left all 7 th and 9 th pass characters (the canonical ones) alone.  Even under those types of understanding,  though,  both the authors and their fans have fewer legal protections, and in the event of some conflict that has to go to court,  that puts the author on more precarious ground.

So what I suspect will happen is this.  Many (perhaps even most) authors won't buy into the Kindle Worlds model,  at least at first.  If the current traditional publishing model collapses in the next decade or two as indie publisher options continue to improve and take over the marketplace,  I suspect more authors will discover a growing need to rely on their fan base rather than a publishing house to help market their books to new readers (and fanfic writers are a natural ally), so more authors may wish to legitimize their fanfic base if that happens.  Fanfic writers won't feel so much like the hidden love child that Author Mom or Dad is secretly proud of having but can't spend time with or has to visit on the down-low.  Authors who opt into this model are probably much more interested in protecting their own work than suppressing others' fanfic writings,  so I doubt they'd actually ban fans from posting fanfic elsewhere unless they're the sort who already do so now.   They'd just continue not to read it,  but they'd be more likely to read and encourage new writers who are willing to enter a legitimate publishing agreement with them. 
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!