The Writer’s Journey – a Rant

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There’s a new plagiarism scandal happening. It involves a woman who is independently published. I have no intention of mentioning her name. I don’t want to give her any more publicity. In the links I have below, you can follow up with more information and they divulge her name and other pertinent details.
 
I think there are about twenty-eight authors (including Nora Roberts) whose work has been plagiarized. Again, you can find the information on the links I’ve listed.
 
I’ve been fighting piracy since the first e-book was produced. For a number of years I fought it every day, giving two hours a day to the effort of trying to protect my books. I involved my intellectual property attorney and used DMCA rules to take down sites where they were sharing free copies of my books to 10,000 of their closest friends. Sometimes, when I successfully won a battle with a certain forum, the members of the forum would then post 10 to 15 links to my books, each one containing ten mirror sites.
 
I did a lot of crying, but I never gave up. I got a certain reputation for being tenacious as hell. I also put up some bogus books, just to try and trap – successfully – other pirates.
I now employ two very successful pirate hunting companies to do daily work for me. It isn’t cheap, but I pay them gladly.
 
Piracy is theft, pure and simple. People have tried to explain that piracy is publicity. What a load of crap. Other people have tried to explain that it’s like whack a mole, the more you successfully pull down, the more goes up. That’s true, for a certain time, until they get the idea that you’re not going away, that you’re tenacious as hell, that you will fight for your work, and that you consider piracy theft.
 
Strangely enough, a great many authors will tell you not to bother about piracy. Obscurity is the problem, they’ll say. Not piracy. What a load of crap, part two. Yet the same authors who will willingly allow their work to be stolen are having hissy fits about plagiarism.
 
I don’t see a difference, frankly. One is theft on a mammoth scale. The other is not only stealing your work, it’s taking credit for it. They’re both theft.
 
God help the person who steals from me. They’re going to need the Cloak of Invisibility.
 
For the last five years it is my sincere belief that Amazon has done everything in their power to reward cheats and thieves. The system of Kindle Unlimited as designed rewards those who pad their books, produce a new book frequently, and game the system. There are numerous examples of how to do it. The result is that fortunes can be made by scam artists. Trust me, they come out of the woodwork just like the whack a mole pirates. However, in Amazon’s case, they don’t banish them. They reward them.
 
There are algorithms in place to make a book more visible if the author generates a new book often. That encourages people to either write a new book every month or use Fivr or other ghost writing conglomerates. The forum for Kindle authors actively promotes ghost writing manuscripts available for $200 for a 70,000 words book and as little as $30 for a collection of short stories.
 
Using ghostwriters is the excuse of the latest plagiarist. She blames the ghostwriters for plagiarizing. What a load of crap, part three.
 
Unfortunately, most of these scams happen in romance because romance sells better than any other genre.
 
I don’t have any answers. All I can tell you is that if there is a way for people to cheat, some people will cheat. What’s doubly insulting is when someone steals from you and then calls herself an author. Jeesh.
 
I don’t buy other people’s words. I create my own.
 
Neither do I play in a playground where the games are rigged. That’s why I don’t participate in Kindle Unlimited. Once upon a time I did, but once I learned how unfair and how rigged everything was, I pulled all my books out.
 
In this new scandal I blame Amazon as well as the greed of unscrupulous people. They hurt other people – writers – and they don’t care. Nothing will make them care. Not chastising them. Not publicly shaming them. Not appealing to their better nature – if they have one. Amazon has made it worth their while and I don’t think anything is going to change anytime soon. Oh, this kerfuffle will blow over and a new one will take it’s place in a week or so. Or a month or so. Or however long it takes to catch the newest plagiarist.
 
Being a writer isn’t an easy occupation. It’s been made even more difficult in the past ten years. You feel like you’re fighting on all fronts and sometimes you are.
 
Twitter hashtag: #copypastecris (and, as you know, you don’t have to belong to Twitter to read tweets.) 
Courtney Milan is one of the authors whose work has been stolen. Here’s her blog filled with information: http://www.courtneymilan.com/ramblings/
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8 thoughts on “The Writer’s Journey – a Rant”

  1. That’s awful Karen. I’m discouraged about what you said about Amazon. I do read Kindle Unlimited. It’s just because I read so much and right now I am reading a lot of suspense books. I am sad that this piracy thing continues despite all of the hard work that you put in. It’s not right.

  2. Stealing is stealing, no matter how it’s sugar coated.
    It amazes me how widespread and often this goes on! 😕

  3. I have a kindle. I tried a few stories. I downloaded a million of them but I stopped a long time ago. I love my print books and I’m sticking to those. Hopefully, it hasn’t hit the print world like ebooks.

  4. What powerful words I just read!!

    I was taught to keep my hands off of things – in any form – that did not belong to me. I read Nora Roberts’ comments and I am in total agreement with her on this matter. I remember the plagiarism dust up with Janet Dailey and immediately I donated all of my Dailey books (which I had not even read!). I couldn’t even bring myself to read them to see the plagiarism for myself.

    • Catherine, she didn’t mean ebooks are bad. On the contrary, they are a boom for those who cannot afford print books or have limited storage space for them. What Karen was pointing out was that scammers have discovered they can use digital publishing as a means to cheat the public and steal from authors. This woman not only stole other authors’ words to use in digital books but print as well. She reached NYT bestseller status, was a member RWA, and had one of her ‘fake’ books nominated for this year’s RITA award as well as she’s been a judge in the past and was for this year. She’s been stripped of it all but the damage has been done. She has stolen from at least 36 books and 28 authors. She is despicable.
      I agree with Karen about Kindle Unlimited. I have had my first three books in the program since December and not one single page has been read. If all books are available to subscribers and this all out trash being produced by scammers is read in abundance then why has no one read mine. Mine are good. I have advertised the devil out of them being there. They have great reviews and everyone who HAS read them love them and want more. There is something fishy in KU. As soon as my imprisonment is done there, I’m never going there again. It is one big scam and I recommend anyone with a subscription to quit it. Ebooks are cheap…too cheap actually. For the time, effort, and hard work an author puts into their work, the price we are forced to put on them is far too little but we must in order to compete. You don’t see James Patterson selling his books for $2.99 or worse, 99¢.
      There are a myriad of wonderful indie books out there and talented authors writing them. Please don’t discount them all because of a few bad apples. We, and I include myself and Karen, need you to give us chance and fall in love with our voices and our stories. 🙂

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