Kindle Worlds Has First Imitator: Outlier Digital From Twilight Producers

Outlier Digital, a new imprint from the film and television production company responsible for producing the Twilight Saga and several other hit properties, wants to do what it says Amazon’s new fan fiction platform Kindle Worlds can’t: set fan fiction free.

According to a press release (below), Outlier Digital will provide authors a way to sell their fan fiction for licensed work — just like Kindle Worlds. The announcement claims the company is in discussions will well-known authors and franchises and is “striking deals” prior to launch this summer, but offers no details on the properties it has or will license. The possibility of licensing Twilight is teased but not explicitly spelled out. The company has not yet responded to request for comment.

“Outlier has licensed content,” said founder Mark Morgan, who is best known for being the producer and executive producer on the smash hit Twilight Saga movies. He added that the company can’t yet disclose which properties have been licensed.

“The problem with the recently released Kindle Worlds’ platform, is it traps writers within the confines of Amazon’s as yet unestablished fan-fiction community instead of the extensive network already at their fingertips,” said Mark Morgan, one of the company partners, in the statement. “Their idea is close, but it actually prevents fan-fiction writers from posting their stories anywhere else, halting their existing fan-base outreach on other free portal options. It’s like saying they can write whatever they want as long as they do it for Amazon.”

A company called ttwick is also a partner in this venture and will help the fan fiction authors more closely connect with fans through data analysis, though it isn’t clear how or what exactly this means.

The release goes on to explain:

In layman’s terms, Outlier’s goal is to allow the individual fan to decide which is the most satisfying way to enjoy stories by the writers (and brands) they love. Authors will have the tools to grow closer to, understand better, and directly engage with their fan bases. Securing the technology to create and innovate new stories allows for greater potential, not only in the production of content for e-books, but more importantly, as part of the future of fully developed adventures in TV and film.

 

Fan fiction has a culture of “free”: works are produced and distributed for free, at least in part to keep authors from running afoul of copyright laws and authors who don’t like the intellectual property being used to produce new work without their explicit permission. Following the launch of Kindle Worlds, it was speculated that Amazon competitors may try launching their own fan fiction platforms with licensed work.

[Press Release]

CREATING PERSONAL DIGITAL PLAYGROUNDS FOR A NEW MEDIA WORLD

Today Mark Morgan and E. Thompson of Outlier and Luis M Sánchez and Ralf Voellmer of ttwick announce an alliance to co-develop and co-finance entertainment properties and platforms across all channels, including social media and e-distribution.

Outlier, the brain child of Mark Morgan and Eric Thompson, announced its latest development, Outlier Digital in early June. Outlier’s new full service digital department has been added to enhance the vertical integration of their film, television and other IP brands. Their work includes such commercial successes as The Twilight Saga, The Cody Banks Franchise and The Percy Jackson Series.

“Mark and Eric have proven to have a knack for vertically developing high-concept IP in the exploding young adult novel genre and we’re excited to work with them,” said Sanchez. “At ttwick, to discover trends and forecast behavior, we analyze social media messages on a global scale and in real-time,” said Voellmer, adding “we apply an econometric approach to sophisticated computational linguistic algorithms using operational research, as well as our own proprietary methods.” In this regard, ttwick’s own techniques for the analysis and capitalization of content in social media had enough merit to be granted patent pending status in the US. The Outlier and ttwick partnership will advance a variety of innovative knowledge-based applications using natural language processing and new methods for knowledge acquisition and computational approaches from large-scale data-mining, statistical analysis, and big data analytics.

Outlier’s Digital subsidiary and ttwick are inaugurating their alliance with the launch of a new kind of fan-fiction platform for Outlier Imprint, the company’s newly formed publishing entity. The companies’ new service platform is “fanfiction” reader, user, and author friendly, providing authors who write “fanfiction,” based on licensed series’, the opportunity to sell their works while providing source authors royalty compensation. The revenue split has not been disclosed but the company has been in discussions with well-known authors of novels and book series’ as well as fan-fiction site aggregators, striking deals before the launch. From the creative and logistics side, Outlier will also be sourcing projects and potential physical distributors through this platform.

“The problem with the recently released Kindle Worlds’ platform, is it traps writers within the confines of Amazon’s as yet unestablished fan-fiction community instead of the extensive network already at their fingertips,” said Morgan. “Their idea is close, but it actually prevents fan-fiction writers from posting their stories anywhere else, halting their existing fan-base outreach on other free portal options. It’s like saying they can write whatever they want as long as they do it for Amazon.”

“Navigating successful creative communication through all the new digital channels accessible today requires innovative ways of thinking about collaboration”, offered Eric Thompson, Morgan’s co-founding partner at Outlier, “so we are launching this new platform with ttwick to offer a full range of interactive marketing solutions for monetizing social media.”

Morgan, an avid advocate for fan-fiction, was offered to produce the film of the infamous “Fifty Shades of Gray” novel, a widely known fan-fiction spinoff of the Twilight series; however, hindered from having acquired Stephanie Meyer’s unpublished novel in 2003 and set it up at MTV/Paramount and Summit Entertainment, Morgan had to pass on handling “Fifty Shades.” Ever since, Morgan has promoted opportunities for joining fans with authors they love and letting their fan’s stories shine with the original author’s blessing. The merger of Outlier and ttwick is a greater effort to enhance the fan-fiction experience.

In layman’s terms, Outlier’s goal is to allow the individual fan to decide which is the most satisfying way to enjoy stories by the writers (and brands) they love. Authors will have the tools to grow closer to, understand better, and directly engage with their fan bases. Securing the technology to create and innovate new stories allows for greater potential, not only in the production of content for e-books, but more importantly, as part of the future of fully developed adventures in TV and film.

Outlier has been researching computational morphology with prominent PhD’s in Linguistics, Mathematics, Statistics, Neurobiology, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science in order to enhance the fanfiction experience. Outlier Digitial is using this information technology in a variety of innovative knowledge-based applications based on the extraction of useful knowledge from vast and diverse online sources. Using the mantra, “Do no harm”, Outlier directly acquires large-scale data-mining, statistical analysis, and data analytics from experts in knowledge engineering, machine learning, natural language processing, human–computer interaction, artificial intelligence, Semantic Web knowledge-intensive collaborative tasks, and new methods for computational approaches.

Formed in 2012, Outlier develops and produces motion pictures for the major and mini-major studios, as well as television programming for networks, and other financiers. The partners at Outlier have an extensive track record in identifying and producing some of Hollywood’s most commercial fare. Outlier’s high concept film and television projects have strong thematic content. Their combined experience has yielded such commercial successes as: Dumb and Dumber; LA Confidential; The Wedding Planner; Under Siege; There’s Something About Mary; The Cody Banks Series; The Twilight Saga; The Percy Jackson Series; and The Devil’s Own.

Founding partner Mark Morgan is best known for producing “Twilight”, which he originally optioned in 2003 as a yet-unpublished manuscript by Stephanie Meyer. Morgan went on to produce The Twilight Saga sequels “New Moon”, “Eclipse”, “Breaking Dawn- Part 1” and “Breaking Dawn- Part 2” for Summit Entertainment, followed by “The Stepfather” for Screen Gems and “Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief” for Fox 2000. The second in the series, “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters” is due to hit theatres on August 7th.

Outlier also provides equity investments through its dedicated sources of financing.

Outlier Digital works with prominent PhD’s in Linguistics, Mathematics, Statistics, Neurobiology, Artificial Intelligence, Computer Science; and long-term Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Matthesen, who was responsible for the pairing of Morgan and Thompson. Matthesen, was a part of the startup teams for two companies that went from zero to IPO (Sybase and Commerce One), holds degrees in Biopsychology, Linguistics, is currently an adjunct professor of e-Commerce at Carnegie-Mellon and serves as a mentor at the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Ttwick, co-developed by Sánchez and Voellmer (former investment bankers involved in the analysis, pricing, and structuring of deals at institutions, including ; Deutsche Bank, AIG, and Lehman Brothers), is a non-monolithic search engine for social media, news, and e-commerce, supported by underlying artificial intelligence, volatility, behavioral economics, and influence metrics technology. Voellmer and Sánchez have worked as advisors to funds with over $75 billion in assets and has conducted demos at MIT, Boston University and the VSSV conference, which in the past has identified breakout companies that have become emblematic of Silicon Valley, including Google, Salesforce.com, Skype, MySQL, YouTube, Tesla, Twitter, and others.

“Our platform will not only allow users to create their own and purchase others’ fan-fiction works, but help original authors to understand better and directly engage with, their fan bases.” said Morgan, adding “fans want to further explore, enjoy, create, interact and ‘play’ within the world of their own choice, whatever the world they personally identify with. The research we are doing with ttwick will open up collaborative possibilities that have never been done before. Combine this technology to create and innovate new stories with the fan-fiction universe and you have a unique, user-friendly experience for enjoying stories by the writers (and brands) people love and prefer.” This collaboration allows for great potential not only in the production of content for e-books, but more importantly, the very future of publishing, TV and film.

3 thoughts on “Kindle Worlds Has First Imitator: Outlier Digital From Twilight Producers

  1. OTB

    As a fan fiction author, I like this, and am encouraged by the idea that it will be less restrictive than what Amazon is offering (where you’re basically low-paid writer providing plot lines for the corporate-owned franchises they currently have available. So far, they haven’t acquired any actual “real” authors’ licenses yet).

    If this is to work, I hope that there are high standards for the fics submitted. This could be a wonderful outlet to showcase skilled writers who have fallen through the fandom cracks because they don’t write hard-core pornography. The grammar MUST be above average to excellent in the submissions. No one wants to pay for poorly written drivel. You can get that for free all over the internet. This needs to be a place where a fan can go to read, knowing that they will be getting a quality, well written story for their money.

    Reply
  2. Carmel

    It bothers me that these “For” writers are charging upwards of $4 for Wool Fanfic when the real author, High Howdy gave the original WOOL short story away for free. I can’t believe these Fic scribblers have the cheek to actually charge money? They are riding another author for money & to try be noticed.

    Reply

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