Amazon teams with Warner Bros on new fan fiction publishing model

Summary:Bottom line: Amazon is looking for the next "Fifty Shades of Grey" by panning directly to would-be fan fiction authors.

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Fan fiction might have officially gone mainstream with the news that Amazon Publishing is adding a special section dedicated to the obsessive literature genre.

The new scheme is dubbed "Kindle Worlds," touted to be the first commercial (and legal) platform for authors to pen fan fiction about their favorite pop culture characters and get paid for it.

See also: Amazon Publishing goes back to basics with Kindle Serials

The bottom line is that Amazon is looking for the next Fifty Shades of Grey by panning directly to would-be fan fiction authors.

For reference, that trilogy of self-published books jumped to the top of book sales charts worldwide last year -- and it started out as a simple set of fan fiction stories based on another popular literary and film franchise, Twilight.

Thus, instead of waiting around and looking for the next big thing (which Amazon Publishing scouts can still do through Kindle Singles), the online retail giant is taking a more proactive approach.

However, there is a catch. To keep things legal, Amazon is inking deals with various film studios and other companies that already own the rights to major pop culture characters.

The Seattle-based corporation is starting with Warner Bros. But before you start uploading your Harry Potter fan fiction, note that it is only WB Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment division.

It's an important distinction for a number of reasons -- but especially because this unit owns a number of well-known (and bankable) young adult franchises, including Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries.

Thus, Kindle Worlds authors can publish authorized stories based on characters and locations in these stories to then be sold to the mass market in the Kindle Store. Amazon will take care of paying royalties to both the authors as well as the studios and other firms that own the rights to the characters.

Amazon Worlds authors can expect up to 35 percent of net revenue for titles with word counts of 10,000 or more. Net revenue is based of the sales price.

For works between 5,000 and 10,000 words, Amazon is introducing a pilot program in which it will pay authors royalties of 20 percent.

Kindle Worlds opens to potential authors today. The digital storefront and a self-service submission platform will launch in June.

Topics: E-Commerce, Amazon, Apps, Smartphones, Tablets

About

Rachel King is a staff writer for CBS Interactive based in San Francisco, covering business and enterprise technology for ZDNet, CNET and SmartPlanet. She has previously worked for The Business Insider, FastCompany.com, CNN's San Francisco bureau and the U.S. Department of State. Rachel has also written for MainStreet.com, Irish Americ... Full Bio

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