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.