Tag Archives: Kindle

Paid to Play: Writing Licensed Fan Fiction in Kindle Worlds

We’ve all heard that writing fan fiction is something that professional writers don’t do. Fan fiction has a stigma attached to it of being vastly amateur and a waste of time for aspiring authors who should be cutting their teeth on their own works. The truth of the matter is that fan fiction has a very large fan base and can provide a great opportunity for new writers to hone their abilities. Yet, being paid for writing fan fiction has always been reserved for authors who sign literary contracts to write “media tie-ins.” The media tie-in was essentially the sole professional version of fan fiction until Kindle Worlds came along.

Kindle Worlds is a project from Amazon that allows authors to write licensed fan fiction in any of the licensed world. Authors can earn royalties (typically 30%) from their works in a licensed world. Works can be any length from short story to full novels. The only “catch” is that Amazon and that licensed world own your story in perpetuity. Licensed worlds include the worlds of bestselling authors Hugh Howey, Bella Andre, and Kurt Vonnegut. Other worlds include television properties (Vampire Diaries, Wayward Pines, Veronica Mars) and comic book properties (G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero, Quantum and Woody, XO Man-o-War). All an author has to do is have an idea, check the Kindle Worlds quality/content guidelines for that licensed world, write a story, and publish it. It’s licensed fan fiction, and I can say from experience, a huge opportunity.

A few years ago at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Antonio, I met Hugh Howey. We had a great conversation then, and ever since via infrequent emails. I first heard about Kindle Worlds from Hugh. Roughly about the time that I finished the second of his Silo Saga novels (SHIFT), I had an idea for a story in his universe. Knowing that the universe was available through the Kindle Worlds program, I worked up a story and promptly hesitated. On the cusp of submitting the story, I chickened out and emailed Hugh for advice. He told me to publish the story, and I did. I’ve published several short stories via Kindle, but none has sold like my Silo Sage novelette “Vessel.” It’s been out for a couple of years and has never left the Top 200 in Kindle Worlds Science Fiction and Fantasy, topping out at #3. The story has done nicely, putting some extra money in my account while generating name recognition. I never thought about name recognition as a by-product for Kindle Worlds until I had an idea for another story in a different universe.

As a kid, the cartoon series G.I.Joe: A Real American Hero was my favorite series of all time. When I saw that its universe was part of Kindle Worlds, I was amazed and thrilled. In the Kindle Worlds stories, there are some really good ones including those by bestselling author Carrie Vaughn and my friends Peter Wacks and Aaron Michael Ritchey. On a getaway weekend to Breckenridge a couple of years ago, I had an idea for a story in that universe and wrote it inside of a week. After some read-throughs and edits, I used the Kindle Worlds cover builder, formatted the book, and set it live. What happened next is surreal. About 24 hours after I set the title live, I had a Twitter notification on my account (@TheWriterIke). I’d been mentioned in a tweet from Amazon Kindle Worlds that reached almost 35,000 subscribers. They’d also tagged one of the major G.I.Joe toy collector groups, and they then retweeted it to another 6,000 subscribers. The story hit #7 in all of Kindle Worlds within the next few hours. I gained fifty or so Twitter followers. Like “Vessel,” my short story “Friends In High Places” has continued to do very well, and the fact that it’s licensed fan fiction is something I’m very proud of.

I believe firmly that writers should seek payment for our work. Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Kindle Worlds is a perfect opportunity to play in someone else’s world while earning royalties and gaining exposure. Check them out at KindleWorlds.Amazon.Com and see if there is a licensed world you’re familiar with. Then, if the muse whispers in your ear, sit down and write the best story you possibly can. You never know what might happen with it.

The Magic of Jutoh

jutohAs I said about Scrivener in my previous post, Jutoh is also a software program that can make you cry with joy or frustration…probably both. In both cases, I had to spend a lot of time on Youtube, forums, and the help page in order to figure it out. Other than the fact that they’re both extremely useful, the similarities end there.

Jutoh is a program designed to take your already written book from word processor format to ebook format, and it does its job well, including links, artwork, font, drop-caps, etc. You can write within the program, but I wouldn’t generally suggest it. My only exception to that might be game design. When I put together my game module, The Hologames, for Sojourner Tales, I outlined the game elsewhere but because of the intra-document links required, it worked well to do the writing within Jutoh.

jutoh sampleThough I don’t generally use the program to write, I’ve never seen a program that can compile ebooks better, especially if you want some professional touches. To the right, you’ll see an example of a book manuscript in progress. This is the way it will look in epub format. This is a rough version, and I’m not finished with it yet, but it should get the point across. I can use graphics in my title or with my title, drop caps are a cinch, I can customize page breaks, etc.

When I’m done assembling my chapters, copyright page, title, contents (all linked, of course), glossary, author page, etc. I hit the “Compile” button and it puts everything together in the format of my choice: epub, mobi, ODT for smashwords (yes, this is a little different), and a number of other formats. I find that running my book through Jutoh then sending it back to Word in odt even makes for a cleaner document to prepare for pdfs and paper publishing markets.

Loading a document to createspace or kobi can be a fairly easy process, but often there are mistakes that you won’t see until your readers point them out to you. After compiling, Jutoh has another handy button, “Check.” Though problems that don’t really exist might come up, it tells you that it’s not likely a real problem. And real problems always come up. Wouldn’t you rather deal with them before you send your book out to the world instead of finding something you need to fix months after readers’ annoyance.

Last, but certainly not least, is the “Launch” button. With the download of a couple of other free software programs, Jutoh allows you to view your finished document in mobi, epub, and other formats. I can’t tell you how many mistakes I’ve caught just by looking at my book as it will appear to readers. It may be aggravating to fix, but it’s nice to get that aggravation over and have the confidence of a well-done product when you launch.

Last year, I won the first-ever IndieRecon Live Total Package Book Award. I credit much of that success to Jutoh. I put in a well-written novel, and Jutoh helped me knock out a great looking format. The combination allowed me my blissful moment of fame.

How about you? What’s your favorite way to get your book out into the world?

Bio: Colette BlackAuthor Pic
Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance.