My take on Amazon letting people sell Fanfiction.
OK details. Give them.
Right now i don't have many, and Amazon's blog post is kinda thin on specifics. There's only a few works to draw from at the moment; pretty little liars, vampire diaries, and a few others. This isn't 'oh i can write my mass effect fic and publish it' unfortunately (I want to see Murauder Shields as an actual comic.) That isn't to say more won't be added in the future, but for the moment it looks like only one publisher is on for this.
That does not mean Amazon cannot leverage their position in the market to get more properties in the future. Remember this is only ebook works. Not physical books. That's probably why they're working on this since while they could in theory use createspace to run off copies of anything cheaper to go with all electronica at the moment. Still, while most of the presented works will be bad in total there will be a staggering amount of profit to be made. That is how Amazon probably convinced someone to do this. Money. Not alturism. Not 'let the fans do stuff so long as they aren't trying to make a buck off our work.' They're probably spinning this as a way to not only get Money, but also show/screenplay ideas as well as new characters they can 'borrow'.
The way I read this you, the writer, only get money from the actual story you wrote. Not from anthologies it might appear in, or anything based off that (such as a new episode or movie or whatever.) Yes that's a bad deal. However it's better than the no deal at all most publishers have for fan works.
Technically speaking Fanfiction is in the same legal position as mashup videos, remixes, parodies, and the like. Generally publishers ignore it. Some go out of their way to crush it, but those that write it are basically playing with someone else's lego set. The fact they're allowing even this much is groundbreaking. Yes it will spawn lots of terrible works but out there will be interesting respins, re-imaginings and remixes such as Pretty Little Liars re-imagined as a children's show, or Vampire Diaries set in Victorian England, or on Mars as a scifi respin
Are there things you Don't Like?
The fact crossover material is currently disallowed isn't good, but I can understand why to an extent since tangling out who gets what share is problimatic at best. The Big Thing however is attribution. I can understand the fact people won't make money off derivatives of their work, after all you are using an existing Property and sorting out who owns what, especially if you're going to take elements from Fic A and Fic B and mash them up are going to be headache inducing.
However what I would like to see is attribution. IE 'X character or Y scenario originally created by Z'. For me that would be enough. Well that and if my work ended up in an anthology me getting a portion of sales but beyond that I'd be fine not having movie or game or whatever rights since I'd still get to pull off the original story and my name would be attached to elements that might get adopted later on.
Additionally I'd like, as the author, to be able to have the option to set the price to 'whatever the reader thinks is fair', meaning if someone wants my work for free Go for it. It'd still be up on Amazon and getting talked about. Granted i could just post to fanfiction.net or any of a number of specialty sites for x or y fandom, but still. If I'm going to submit my material I'd like to give the option.
Why should I Care?
To put it in a context my mom might understand, 'You know how days of our lives got canceled? it'd be like if the guys that own that are letting people like you or *friend* write novels based on 'what if and' and allowing everyone else to read the results, discuss which ones are better than others, and everyone getting a chance to make a little pocket money out of the deal.' Yes the allowable franchises are small at the moment, but after this is proven it will get bigger.
Think of it less as fans trying to leech off of an existing setting and think of it more as fan participation in a particular brand. It's another layer of involvement. Amazon is, in all fairness and honesty, trying to find the next fifty shades of grey but in the process you're going to see a lot of interesting along with the crap.Professionals, screenwriters, movie and tv, have gotten theri starts as fans of diffrent shows. This isn't just mining for material. It's mining for potential future talant.
I wish them the best of luck.