Blame it on E.L. James. Her Twilight fanfic, Master of the Universe, spawned the best-selling Fifty Shades of Grey series. Money out the wazoo time! And since NY publishing always upholds the highest standards of literature, fanfic suddenly became acceptable.
So acceptable that Amazon has launched Kindle Worlds. Amazon has inked deals with Alloy Entertainment (a division of Warner Brothers) that allow writers to create stories based on Alloy's intellectual properties such as Gossip Girls and The Vampire Diaries. Revenue is split between the writer, the license holder and Amazon.
And the blogsphere went wild! (There's a very good discussion going on over at The Passive Voice.)
There's a lot of pluses and minuses to monetizing fanfic. A myriad of writers are debating these very issues. For a long time, most creators looked the other way as long as the fans didn't charge other fans for their homegrown stories. Sometimes, creators gave the fans their blessing and a share of the profits. Then there were those creators who went absolutely apeshit over the hint of fans touching "their" universe.
I admit I've done my fair share of fanfic. The first story I remember writing involved Godzilla saving Christmas. The reason I drafted these little tales? I didn't want the main story to stop. I was the classic reader/watcher wanting to know--"What did Luke do after the destruction of the Death Star?"
"What did Kirk & crew do after they completed their five-year mission?"
"Did John Carter ever see Dejah Thoris again?"
"How did Dorothy deal with leaving her friends behind in Oz?"
"What happens next!"
Would I ever let people play in my sandbox? Damned if I know right now. It's an interesting thought. I think I'd get pretty damn possesive when it comes to Samanatha Rideway though.
What do the rest of you think?
P.S. Here's links to a couple of fanfics that cracked me up the first time I read them.
Visit to a Weird Planet
Visit to a Weird Planet Revisited