Harry Potter, Kindle Worlds and Some Thoughts on Self-Publishing

So last night I went to my first ever Harry Potter part! It was awesome. The bookshop had various tents set up: fortune telling, sorting, transfiguration. You could take your picture in the “Have You Seen This Wizard?” sign. There was a tent selling Hogwarts merchandise. There was a Quiddich Pitch, and there were even wizards practising the Dark Arts (they attempted to convert me multiple times, but I consistently ran away). I felt like I was part of the world, and as a big fan of Harry Potter, I would definitely go to an HP part again!

But this all made me think of something I’d been hearing a little bit about over the past couple days: Kindle Worlds. Kindle Worlds is self-titled as, “A place for you to publish fan fiction”. Only certain worlds are available (Harry Potter isn’t one), but there are a number of worlds everyone’s probably heard of, like Veronica Mars and Pretty Little Liars. The premise is that Amazon has licensed a world for this purpose, and is paying people to write stories for worlds that people are dying to get more of. Writers get 35% royalty and world owners get 35%.

Worlds are addictive. People can’t get enough of them. Get people addicted to a world and you have a gold-mine (or a very passionate fan base which means as much-if not more). Last night at the Harry Potter party, I bought chocolate lollipops, a giant Hedwig owl sucker, and a Ravenclaw scarf (yes, I’m pretty sure I’m Ravenclaw even though I haven’t been officially sorted). When the last Veronica Mars movie was in the making, my sister funded the project on Kickstarter, and I proudly cheered her on (the movie had no problem reaching the kickstart goal). Worlds create trending Twitter topics, Facebook Clubs, and all kinds of world-inspired art work, music, poetry, stories, clothing, accessories etc. When it’s a good, believable world, people will fall in love. And once you’re in love, it’s hard to escape.

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So what makes a world worth diving into? For me, it’s the little details. At the HP party last night, the restaurant had a special menu: butter beer, pumpkin pasties, and other such HP inspired treats. People were buying their own wands made from dragon heartstring and phoenix feather. People were wearing their wizarding wear. The addiction is in the detail, in characters that we know and love because of their little quirks-the things that make them exactly who they are. The kind of characters that are familiar best friends. We know what to expect from them. We know what they’re going to eat for breakfast, and we know what they’re going to wear when working out (or if they even go to the gym). Worlds are built on people we can fall in love with, people we would fight alongside of, fight for, and be (if it was only possible). Which is why people want more stories, because reading about the life of a character, is, for a brief moment, like living in their shoes.

J. E. Hunter is the author of the Black Depths Series. Tales of a Redheaded Sea-Witch, and Broken Tide, the first two books of the series can be found on  Amazon,  Kobo,  iBooks,  Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. The third book, Dark Shores, was released April 1, 2016. The fourth and last book of the Black Depths series, Twisted Currents, will be released in the fall of 2016, after Dead Water and Doomed Seas, two Novellas featuring Caesar.

 

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