Huge thanks go to Rhapsody for bringing this one to my attention! I promise I’ll talk about something other than Kindle Worlds soon, but first I wanted to share this link, in which Barbra Annino, a professional author who wrote a Pretty Little Liars tie-in for the KW launch, talks about her experiences with working on the Kindle Worlds launch. (She comments outside of this thread as well, but this thread provides most of the information about her contract and the vetting process.)
Some details that come to light (and Annino notes that, while these are her experience, she believes it is how Kindle Worlds will work in general):
-Stories are contracted individually. So a writer will receive and sign a contract for each story she sells to Kindle Worlds. A writer is not offered a general contract to write for Kindle Worlds; the Kindle Worlds platform won’t behave like a self-uploading fanfic archive.
-Stories are accepted/rejected individually by an editor. Annino compares the vetting process to that of a fiction magazine.
-Annino says, “As for the copyright – an example is if I should create a character within this world, I am free to use that character elsewhere in my own work.” This leads me to believe that an OC created for Kindle Worlds could be used on archives outside of KW or even original fiction projects? She makes it sound like this is the case. This is a concern I’ve seen raised a lot and that I’ve felt is one of the more compelling arguments against participating in this project.
-Further down-thread, Annino says, “The particular licenses mentioned in the PR came from shows on the WB or ABC Family and are geared towards teens and young adults. I think that explains the no porn rule.” So it looks like–for these “worlds” currently on offer anyway–that content will be limited to what would be rated Teens or PG-13 on an archive.
-Annino makes the same point that Randy has made in multiple places I’ve seen, in that the contract is very similar to what the writers of tie-in novels or ghost writers are offered.
I still think Amazon has some work to do in making their terms clear to a community that doesn’t necessarily speak the language used by publishers and professional writers. But to see that this project is going to operate like publishers already do is a good thing, I think. One of my concerns, for example, was that Kindle Worlds would make it to easy to post stories, causing writers used to posting on fanfic archives (where one can edit and delete at will) to become too cavalier in offering up their work. Being offered a contract for each story will hopefully jog fanfic writers enough out of their routine that they stop, read, and think about the contract before signing. I want to see the final site look as little like something from traditional fandom as possible. Participating writers need to know they’re in a different world because they are: one with lasting and legally binding consequences!
I still think Amazon needs to do more work to make the terms clear to a group of writers who, for the most part, lack experience with publishing. Perhaps they will, either in educational materials on the site or in the contract itself. “All rights,” for example, is a meaningless term to most people. Most people have no idea what a copyright really is. Annino says, “This is not the best route for everyone, but I find that having all the information before making a business decision helps me make the right one.” Yes, yes, and yes. Let’s hope that Amazon does their part to make that happen.