Some quick thoughts regarding Amazon’s deal with Alloy Publishing and the discussions I’ve read about it.
Most of that discussion seems like it’s centering around the down-the-road implications of Amazon’s deal: when will Harry Potter fans be able to write for fun and profit? If 50 Shades was so profitable, why is this deal specifically banning pornography/erotic fiction?
One thing I notice is missing from the discussion is the connective tissue played by Alloy Publishing’s role in and relationship to a multimedia experience for its properties. In this context, one sees quickly that Alloy has positioned itself in a way that makes this Amazon announcement practically inevitable.
For a start, Alloy’s advertisements and guidelines have always represented the company as a packaging (in addition to publishing) company. This is borne out by the company’s successful franchises – Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries and so on. They existed as books long before they stalked our screens, looking sultry, via the CW. Alloy is a publishing entity that has been clear from the submission point onward that it’s also interested in multi-media moneymaking.
The Amazon/Alloy deal signals a potential sea change for legally monetizing an entertainment arena that has existed in a gray area for decades. It can also be seen as a difficult-to-replicate pairing of two unique companies with particular agility in the online publishing arena and specific interest in forging new slivers of profit from the interest and participatory nature of their active online fans.
The real question, for writers interested in this self-publishing opportunity, is how far-reaching the effects of this initial Kindle Worlds program wind up being.
The Alloy announcement concerned three distinct properties, belonging to a single division of a larger entertainment behemoth. There’s nothing in the press release linked above that signals successfully completed talks with anybody outside of Alloy, let alone Warner Bros.
Writers outside the three fandoms of Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars and The Vampire Diaries probably have a long wait on their hands, but it seems clear to me that these three fandoms represent a litmus test for the idea of formally coupling of fan fiction and corporate profitability.