Book plagiarism… You’ve heard about it, but you never think it will happen to you. You’ve worked long and hard on your book. It’s published on Amazon, and the other book retailers. It’s available on the Kindle. Then someone tells you that your book’s been plagiarized.
It happened to Aubrey Rose:
Well, somebody stole my book. A kind fan pointed out that Clarissa Black’s book City Girl, Mountain Bear was similar to my novella City Girl, Country Wolf. Too similar. This “author” has taken my storyline and rewritten my book scene for scene, changing just enough to be able to get through Amazon’s plagiarism filters. Not a single sentence is the same, but the story is exactly the same. Check it out…
Thanks to The Passive Voice, for the link.
Rachel Ann Nunes’ book was plagiarized too. Rachel’s story is truly bizarre… When you read her entire blog post, you feel as if you’re in an alternate universe of the weird and insane. Kudos to Rachel for taking legal action — she’s running a GoFundMe campaign to help defray some of her legal expenses.
As Rachel says:
Plagiarizers know it costs authors time and money to defend their work, and they bet on us not having the resources needed to prosecute. So when David Farland (author of The Runelords series), approached me about creating a GoFundMe campaign to help with costs, I accepted his advice. Several other authors are also teaming up to spread the word.
Plagiarists rely on two things:
- “The author will never know I stole his book” — huh. Readers are very, very perceptive, and they inform authors very quickly; and
- “The author can’t do anything to me” — huh, again. You’d be surprised what an angry and determined author can do, especially with the help and support of others.
Why do plagiarists plagiarize?
Simple answer: because they can, and because there’s money to be made. We live in a cut and paste world. It’s very easy to rip off people’s intellectual property, and make money doing it.
I visit outsourcing sites often, and you’d be amazed at the projects posted, asking for writers to “reword” something or other. This is what’s happened to Aubrey Rose. Someone’s reworded her book. Of course it’s plagiarism. I’ve no idea why the outsourcing sites allow such projects to be posted, and even less of an idea why writers demean themselves by taking on such gigs.
That said, it all comes down to money in the end.
What can you do to protect yourself?
Firstly, be aware that plagiarism happens. If it happens to you, don’t panic, and try not to be too upset. It’s challenging to keep your emotions in check, yes, but worthwhile. Try to be at least as cold, calculating and unemotional as the plagiarist.
Document EVERYTHING… it’s vital
Next, document everything. Save tweets, email messages, and everything you do from the moment you suspect plagiarism onwards. Create a folder on your computer. Take screenshots — use Jing, it’s free and very good.
Do you have a support network of other authors? Contact your network. No network? Do a search on Writers’ Cafe for authors who’ve been in a similar situation. Ask for advice. You’ll need to contact Amazon, and other book retailers where the plagiarist’s book is selling, so you can get it taken down.
Relax, relax, and relax some more. 🙂 You’re not the first author to be plagiarized, and you won’t be the last.
Again, to repeat: document everything you see online. This means where the plagiarist is selling his book, and anything you can discover about his identity. Take screen captures of everything, with the URLs. Stuff can vanish offline in a blink. So keep everything you find.
Start a log. Think ship’s log, with dates and times of action you take. To repeat once more… document everything.
Keep a cool head, and realize that other authors will help you. We all hate plagiarism. And if plagiarists become aware that they’re in for a world of problems when they plagiarize, they just might think twice.
While you’re documenting, and kicking the plagiarist where it hurts, keep writing.
Focus on your current book. The big danger with stressful events is that you’ll stop writing. Keep working on your projects, as much as you can. Get lots of rest. This too will pass… Annoying as this event is, you’ll laugh about it a year or two from now, so try not to take it too seriously. Writing a book is what you do. You’ll write another book and another — don’t let the plagiarist take more from you.
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