MarsDragon wrote:There's actually a lot of things to say about Kindle Worlds and filing the serial numbers off from the perspective of the fanfic writing community. For one thing, traditionally, accepting money for fanfic is one of the biggest taboos there is. It's getting more popular for a variety of reasons, but it tends to make the old guard shake their fists at the kiddies.
I really don't get that in and of itself. I DO get the part about being mad about a free thing being changed to a for-pay thing; I'll get back to that in a moment. But -- speaking as someone who's always had an easier time writing amateur fiction using other people's characters -- I've always thought it's more admirable to create something original that you own and control.
MarsDragon wrote:I never heard much about filing the serial numbers off before 50 Shades of Grey hit, but now it's popular a lot of people actually look askance at it.
I can't, off the top of my head, think of another exact case of somebody writing a complete fanfic and then changing the names and publishing it through traditional channels. But I can think of plenty of examples that are somewhat similar. I'm sure plenty of fantasy novels are adapted from somebody's D&D campaign -- including, if I'm not mistaken, Song of Ice and Fire.
And there are plenty of cases where people working on corporate-owned characters turn rejected pitches into original works. Watchmen is the biggest example in comics -- Alan Moore was told he couldn't use the Charlton characters, so he tweaked them all into original characters, in a comic that was, as far as he knew at the time, creator-owned.
Astro City's another pretty good example; Busiek's repurposed a lot of plots that he originally envisioned for Big Two books. Dark Age was originally pitched as a Marvels sequel.
Of course, I mention comics because I know a lot about comics, but there are similar examples from other media. Douglas Adams repurposed his rejected pitch for Doctor Who and the Krikkitmen into Life, the Universe, and Everything; Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is largely adapted from the unfinished serial Shada (and indeed the actually-finished-and-quite-popular serial City of Death).
Matt Groening, ironically, did basically the opposite when he created The Simpsons -- he didn't want to sell his creator-owned Life in Hell characters, so he replaced them with new but (initially) similar characters as work-for-hire.
MarsDragon wrote:It's seen as a bit venal to write a popular fanfic, take it down and then try to convince everyone to pay for it as original fiction.
This I get. Paywalls piss me right the fuck off; seeing any content changed from free to for-pay can feel pretty insulting.
But, realistically, that's probably not the author's choice, except inasmuch as it's the choice of "Look, do you want us to publish this on our terms, or not?" It's gotta be pretty hard to convince a publisher to allow you to continue offering a work for free when they're trying to sell it.
Another example that's not 1-to-1 is Two Gentlemen of Lebowski -- it was initially offered for free but, once it was officially licensed and published as a book, it was taken down. I'm sure that's the Lebowski copyright holders' decision and not the author's.
And yeah, there is a lot to worry about re:exploitation. The Kindle Worlds terms do make you sign away a bunch of rights, last I checked. (when the news hit last May, here's an article from The Daily Dot
and another from John Scalzi
Haven't had a chance to read those yet but thanks for the links; I'll get around to them later. I'm certainly not surprised that the contracts are predatory -- hell, I'd be surprised if they WEREN'T. Corporate copyright holders are not exactly well-known for treating established professionals in an honest and above-the-board fashion; they're bound to treat unproven amateurs worse.
MarsDragon wrote:As for quality control...that's a risk with all self-publishing. It's generally less troll entries than just having to suffer through wading through the slush pile yourself instead of making an editor do it, but supposedly the cream rises to the top. But as with many things, the "cream" is less often what it good as instead what is popular.
Sure. That's a problem with traditional publishing too, of course -- hell, there'd be no Twilight fan fiction if there were no Twilight.
Again, I think self-publishing is great -- as I said, I think the good that comes from breaking down barriers to entry outweighs the bad.
I've told this story before -- last year, when I was waiting at my favorite local bookstore
for Cory Doctorow to take the stage, I was reading Circle of Enemies
(affiliate link) and the lady sitting next to me asked if it was urban fantasy. When I said that it was, she handed me a business card with the Seeing Things
cover on it and said "Here's mine." I gave it a download and I enjoyed it. And I think that's fucking wonderful.