Making Money Writing Fan Fiction? Really? Really
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) What if you could write your own Vampire Diaries novel, publish it, and get paid a few thousand dollars? Just one year ago, that would have been basically impossible. Yet with Amazon's Kindle Worlds, it's now a possibilitybut even if you're not likely to strike it rich, authors say you'll have a good time writing fan fiction and making a bit of cash to boot.
Launched at the end of June last year, Kindle Worlds is a unique service by Amazon that allows fan fiction authors to sell stories and novels based off select fictional, published works, which Amazon calls "worlds." Currently, only 15 fictional worlds are available. There are comic book-based worlds like Bloodshot and Archer and Armstrong , popular mainstream works like Gossip Girl and Pretty Little Liars , and the Silo Saga for sci-fi fans. Last August, Amazon secured the license to allow the catalog of Kurt Vonnegut's works for Kindle Worlds use, so even lit nerds might consider penning some fan fiction.
And while licensing is expensive and you're choosing to publish exclusively on Amazon's digital store, the royalties aren't too slim. Bottom line? You'll make 35% of net revenue for longer works (over 10,000 words) and 20% for short stories. Amazon sets the price, too, with most short stories going for $0.99. Novellas tend to sell for $1.99 and novels for $3.99. At those prices, that's about $0.20 per short story, $0.70 per novella, and $1.40 per novel sold. These royalties are comparable to traditional publishing.
According to the magazine Poets & Writers , the industry standard royalty rate for an author is 10% per book sold, increasing up to 15% after 5,000 copies sell. Of course, publishing deals vary; your book could be sold in major retail stores and you would likely own all the rights to your own characters. In a world, you retain the copyright to original ideas and characters created by you, but not exclusively: by publishing on Kindle Worlds, Amazon says it can give another Kindle Worlds author "a license to use your new elements and incorporate them into other works without further compensation to you." But since you're publishing on someone else's idea, that might not seem unreasonable to fan fiction authorsespecially if that fan fiction is already written.
"I had all these manuscripts just lying around that I'd published for free online and so I took them, polished them up, rewrote to fit specific guidelines, and suddenly I was making money on something I'd been doing for fun," says Michelle Hazen, who wrote four Vampire Diaries fandom books. Hazen had self-published three original novels but has had the most success with Kindle Worlds, which she highly recommends.