So I remember back in the spring how everyone was freaking out about Kindle Worlds and what this would do to the world of fanfiction, but I haven't heard anything from it since then. Perhaps it didn't affect us as much as we thought it would? And what's funny, if you look at the comments of some of the stories that were published, you can see that the people buying them clearly don't understand what fanfiction is:
I was never sure what happened here! It was very short, but I couldn't get in to it! Them [sic] it was over, still confused
This was not a complete book. It was the length of a chapter. Rip off! It was not a complete book.
Not sure what the point of this short story was. It wasn't even a story as there never unfolded anything. No conflict, no resolution, no suspense, no fun. Felt like a rough draft, but at least the writing was decent.
I am completely confused about this attempt. It seems like the reader is starting in the middle of a series yet this is the first one (written by Locke) with these characters. I just don't get it. Obviously I should have started on another book where these characters are introduced but where and written by whom? What the heck?
It seems Kindle Worlds isn't reaching it's target audience of fanfiction readers (because guess what? we already have the AO3 and FF.net and Wattpad and LJ and a zillion other sites where we can read it for FREE). Worse still, the audience it does seem to be reaching are mainstream readers who are looking for what appears to be full-length completely developed novels, if the comments from above are anything to go by. And the majority of fanfiction does not have these elements - because we already know the characters, and we already know the setting and we already know their backstory. And we know how fanfiction works - we know that there can be one-shots and drabbles and that there will be no character development because the character is already developed and we just want to see them in this one situation, in this one instance, how do they act? What do they do? And that's why it seems like it's starting in the middle of a series because it fundamentally is - fanfiction readers are expected to know the canon inside and out so you don't need any of these other things. You already have them. That's the POINT.
So seems like we didn't have much to worry about after all. It's FanLib 2.0 - People Who Don't Understand Fanfic But Are Still Trying To Make Money Off Of It. And, like last time, they will fail again. Miserably.
The reason I brought this whole thing up anyway was because I was reading some articles from Cinema Journal and one of them "Should Fanfiction Be Free?" (Kosnik 2009) was arguing that perhaps we should get paid for our efforts, and that we should find a way to do it ourselves before an outsider actually makes an attempt that works. She compares this to what happened with the hip-hop community, where the same issues of copyright and derivative/transformative works were at stake and yet they still managed to monetize and commodify it and now it's a global money-making phenomenon, but the people who are making money are not those who were in the original community.
She sums her argument up thus:
If fans successfully professionalize and monetize fan fiction, the amateur culture of fic writing will not disappear. Professional and amateur versions of nearly every art and genre, from fiction to poetry, to painting to photography, to theater to filmmaking, coexist. Conventional wisdom holds that the best amateurs, after giving enough of their work away for free, prove that their output is worthy of payment. Although fans have legitimate anxieties about fan fiction being corrupted or deformed by its entry into the commercial sphere, I argue that there is far greater danger of this happening if fan fiction is not commodified by its own producers, but by parties foreign to fandom who do not understand why or for whom the genre works, and who will promote it for purposes it is unsuited for, ignoring the aspects that make it attractive and dear to its readers. FanLib was a failed attempt at co-optation, but unless fans seize their Sugarhill moment, another external force may succeed.
...no group that publishes or archives fan fiction has (so
far) demonstrated a willingness to experiment with payment structures that could endow its contributors with what [Virginia] Woolf insisted are the material prerequisites of fiction writing. In the absence of such experimentation, women writing fanfic for free today risk institutionalizing a lack of compensation for all women that practice this art in the future. Woolf asked of her forebears, "What had our mothers been doing then that they had no wealth to leave us?" Will our generation answer that we have been giving our talents away as gifts, rather than insisting on the worth of our work?
(Potentially Unpopular Opinion: I personally think I would love to contribute to my favourite writers, perhaps as a donation, to let them know I appreciate and enjoyed their work. But something was mentioned in another article in the same journal and that was that putting a tangible monetary value on fanworks would potentially split the community up in even worse ways - fandom already has the makings of a popularity contest, and the last thing we would need would be a way to objectively measure that.)
But anyway! These are some thoughts I've been having ^^ anyone else have any thoughts about Kindle Worlds? Go check out some of the reviews on the stories posted, people are not happy, haha. Guess they just don't know what to expect :( And what about the whole money and fanworks debate? It's something I'd like to talk about, I wish there was a place we could go to discuss meta DX)
x-posted on my tumblr