Baboon Fart Story

User avatar
Thad
Posts: 5628
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:05 am
Location: 1611 Uranus Avenue
Contact:

Baboon Fart Story

Postby Thad » Wed Feb 19, 2014 12:29 am

So Mars and I were chatting over in the comics thread about Kindle Worlds, the new Amazon/various copyright holder joint venture of semi-official, for-pay fanfic publishing.

I've said before, in the old boards' Elitist vs. Posers thread, that while I've got zero fucking interest in Fifty Shades of Gray, I DO happen to think it's pretty great that an unknown on the Internet managed to go from self-published fanfic to bestseller.

(Actually to that end I kinda think Kindle Worlds is a bad thing. On the one hand, yes it means people getting paid for work that they might very well be doing for free anyway. But it also means they're going to be less likely to do what the author of 50 Shades did and try to rewrite -- and sell -- their fiction as original, creator-owned work. I think this is a real shame, and a whole new way for copyright holders to exploit freelancers.)

I think self-publishing is a wonderful thing. I think lowering barriers to entry is, inherently, a net positive.

But on the other hand yeah it DOES completely eliminate quality control.

Charles Stross quotes Chuck Wendig:

I can literally write the word "fart" 100,000 times and slap a cover of baboon urinating into his own mouth, then upload that cool motherfucker right to Amazon. Nobody would stop me. Whereas, at the Kept Gates, a dozen editors and agents would slap my Baboon Fart Story to the ground like an errant badminton birdie.


Stross adds:

Unfortunately Chuck momentarily forgot that on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog. This truism has an arse-biting canine corollary: which is that nobody knows your proposed experiment is SPOILER a joke. So Baboon Fart Story became a real thing. A guy named Phronk (who has a PhD in psychology and writes a blog about putting odd things in coffee which means he is presumably smart enough to know better) went and slapped it together and published it on the Big River.

And in a matter of hours it gained a potload of five star reader reviews and it was only 99 cents so of course I bought it.

DIFFERENT KIND OF SPOILER: like the rest of the internet, Amazon.com have no sense of humour. So "Baboon Fart Story" fell off the internet in less than 24 hours, censored by the jack-booted fascist octopus of po-faced corporatism. (Alternatively, everyone's a critic. And just maybe Amazon felt slightly stung by the fact that somebody had proven Unca Chuck's thesis in public and thereby set fire to the twittersphere and made them look like greedy artless poopy-heads.)


I am still giggling about this, because I am in third grade.

User avatar
Mongrel
Posts: 8999
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:28 pm
Location: Canadumb

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby Mongrel » Wed Feb 19, 2014 1:28 am

Wonderful wonder of wonderment. :lol:
Image

User avatar
MarsDragon
Posts: 429
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:30 pm

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby MarsDragon » Fri Feb 21, 2014 2:29 am

Thad wrote:So Mars and I were chatting over in the comics thread about Kindle Worlds, the new Amazon/various copyright holder joint venture of semi-official, for-pay fanfic publishing.

I've said before, in the old boards' Elitist vs. Posers thread, that while I've got zero fucking interest in Fifty Shades of Gray, I DO happen to think it's pretty great that an unknown on the Internet managed to go from self-published fanfic to bestseller.

(Actually to that end I kinda think Kindle Worlds is a bad thing. On the one hand, yes it means people getting paid for work that they might very well be doing for free anyway. But it also means they're going to be less likely to do what the author of 50 Shades did and try to rewrite -- and sell -- their fiction as original, creator-owned work. I think this is a real shame, and a whole new way for copyright holders to exploit freelancers.)


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 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. 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. The more "proper" way to do it is the Cassie Claire/Naomi Novik route of writing a completely original novel and then telling your fans to buy it.

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) I wouldn't necessarily prefer serial filing to become the norm, but that's more about preserving parts of fan writing culture than copyrights.

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. And it all still relies on someone being willing to go through the pile in the first place.

User avatar
sei
Posts: 935
Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:29 pm

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby sei » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:55 pm

Thad wrote:Stross adds:

Unfortunately Chuck momentarily forgot that on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog. This truism has an arse-biting canine corollary: which is that nobody knows your proposed experiment is SPOILER a joke. So Baboon Fart Story became a real thing. A guy named Phronk (who has a PhD in psychology and writes a blog about putting odd things in coffee which means he is presumably smart enough to know better) went and slapped it together and published it on the Big River.

And in a matter of hours it gained a potload of five star reader reviews and it was only 99 cents so of course I bought it.

DIFFERENT KIND OF SPOILER: like the rest of the internet, Amazon.com have no sense of humour. So "Baboon Fart Story" fell off the internet in less than 24 hours, censored by the jack-booted fascist octopus of po-faced corporatism. (Alternatively, everyone's a critic. And just maybe Amazon felt slightly stung by the fact that somebody had proven Unca Chuck's thesis in public and thereby set fire to the twittersphere and made them look like greedy artless poopy-heads.)


I am still giggling about this, because I am in third grade.

Great stuff.
Image

User avatar
Thad
Posts: 5628
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:05 am
Location: 1611 Uranus Avenue
Contact:

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby Thad » Sat Feb 22, 2014 12:07 am

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.

MarsDragon wrote: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.

User avatar
Thad
Posts: 5628
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:05 am
Location: 1611 Uranus Avenue
Contact:

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby Thad » Sat Mar 08, 2014 2:10 pm

Thad wrote:
MarsDragon wrote: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.


Finally got around to reading them. No real surprises. The "we reserve the right to adapt your story later and not give you any money for it" clause is galling but entirely unsurprising.

There was a brief period in the 1990's when Sega first became aware that people were writing Sonic fan fiction and tried to assert that they automatically owned all the original characters who fanfic writers used in Sonic stories. The result from fandom was a predictable mix of outrage and derision; copyright doesn't work that way.

This brings up another point of fan fiction that Kindle Worlds doesn't really have an answer for (and quite possibly can't): the use of fan-created characters showing up in other writers' works. During the mid-1990's when I was involved in Sonic fanfic, every fic there was found a way to work in Bookshire Draftwood and Packbell, characters created by Dave Pistone. Stuff like that is, of course, right out in Kindle Worlds (unless, I suppose, you secure the creator's express permission in advance).

As a mental exercise, I've asked myself what I'd do if, say, Sega got in on this and started allowing the professional publication of Sonic fanfic. (Unlikely -- Sega is extremely controlling with the property, and likely to balk at the risk of any further Ken Penders situations even if the contracts are airtight. But just for the sake of argument...)

I could, hypothetically, put up some stories that I wrote when I was 12 and see if they sold. They're already out there, they're not making me any money, and it would be little or no effort on my part.

Except it's not really feasible.

Even throwing out all the Mega Man X crossover stuff, I still used a plethora of characters who aren't mine. I'd have to talk to Brent and Stef and Steve and Dave and hammer out agreements with all of them to use their characters, and this would have to involve some kind of compensation agreement because I'll be damned if I'm going to use somebody else's characters for money and not compensate them for it.

But even then, how would that work? If they consented to letting me use their characters, that would imply consent to the terms of Kindle Worlds. But how would that work? Would Amazon want them to sign a contract confirming this agreement in writing? That would be a lot less ambiguous than merely an email to me saying "Yeah, that's cool."

And even if you hammered all those things out, I still wouldn't do it. The "We can turn your story into a game without giving you any money" clause -- while, again, not surprising -- is a dealbreaker. I wouldn't do that with my work, and I certainly wouldn't do it with other creators' work, even if we WEREN'T talking about creators who are my personal friends.

And that's not a hypothetical; I refer again to Penders v Sega and EA. I never got around to playing Dark Brotherhood, so maybe it's not really a knockoff of Dark Legion at all. But it sure looks like one.


...fuck. Now I've got myself going through all the old Brontoforumus links on my blog and fixing them to fossilized.brontoforum.us so they work again. THANKS, OBAMA.

User avatar
Thad
Posts: 5628
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:05 am
Location: 1611 Uranus Avenue
Contact:

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby Thad » Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:18 pm

Something that, on further thought, stuck out to me in the Daily Dot story:

The problem is, even online publishers like Wattpad and Amazon aren’t quite up to speed with the realities of fandom culture. While Gossip Girl and The Vampire Diaries are popular among teenagers, they don’t measure up to mega-fandoms like Sherlock or The Avengers.


Sherlock is a weird example.

Because here's the thing: you can already write Sherlock fan fiction and self-publish it for money, without needing any sort of licensing deal or profit-sharing agreement with the BBC.

Because -- the protestations of the Conan Doyle estate notwithstanding -- Sherlock Holmes is public domain.

I mean, okay, if you really wanted to use Molly or Mary (EDIT: nevermind, Mary's in the books), or make Miss Adler a prostitute, then you'd need the Beeb's permission. But short of that? Taking Sherlock Holmes and setting it in the twenty-first century is fair game, and if you happen to be picturing Cumberbatch and Freeman in your head when you write it, that's your business. Just keep the stuff that's specific to the BBC series out of it. If for some reason you need to make a reference to that cabbie who kept killing his passengers, or to Sherlock faking his death by falling in a battle with Moriarty, that's fair game, that stuff's all in the books; just leave the TV details out of it.

I mean, I'm sure if Sherlock WERE part of Kindle Worlds, some fans would participate -- even fans who weren't using the show's copyrightable elements. Because there's someone somewhere on the Internet who will do any old thing. I just don't understand what the point would be. It would mean giving away a huge chunk of your profits in return for a pretty insigificant signal boost (it's not like licensors spend a whole lot of money advertising Kindle Worlds tie-ins).

User avatar
Thad
Posts: 5628
Joined: Tue Jan 21, 2014 10:05 am
Location: 1611 Uranus Avenue
Contact:

Re: Baboon Fart Story

Postby Thad » Tue Mar 11, 2014 1:58 am

I didn't expect I'd be back to this thread so many times in such quick succession, but here's Johanna Draper Carlson discussing LJ Smith, ousted author of The Vampire Diaries, who's now continuing her original story in Kindle Worlds. I don't know if it's weirder than Kevin Eastman writing TMNT as work-for-hire, but it's certainly up there.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests