- Posted by Johanna on March 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm
- Category: Digital and Webcomics
Wow. What a story of a snake eating its tail.
The original author of The Vampire Diaries, L.J. Smith, doesn’t own the copyright. The publisher, Alloy Entertainment, does. The company, now a part of Warner Bros. Television, “produces books and creates other properties for pre-teen and teen-age markets”; Gossip Girl is another of their successes. Which means they had the right to replace Smith, which they did. Other people then wrote further books in the series.
However, Vampire Diaries is one of the properties included in Amazon’s Kindle Worlds program, an officially licensed way for fans to write and publish fanfiction. And Smith is now, under that program, writing her continuation of the story she started. Which means that the property’s original writer is now writing fanfic for it.
Since it’s official, “fanfic” isn’t quite the right word for it. Perhaps “licensed universe tie-in”?
I don’t have a good feeling for whether anyone’s making money off of Kindle Worlds. There are plenty of free outlets where one can read a wide variety of fanfic, and you don’t have to be restricted to a limited approved list of properties, so I don’t know how many people are willing to pay from a dollar to four dollars per story. (And Kindle only, which means using Amazon’s programs to access the material.) Writers get 35% of net revenue for longer stories (20% for shorter works) and must follow the rules: no porn, nothing offensive, no crossovers, and no “excessive use of brand names”. No one’s going to make a career on this, but for people writing out of love, any money is a bonus. However, note that, as John Scalzi points out, if you invent a great character or come up with a terrific idea, the property owner can take it and reuse it without any further compensation to you.