Over the past days, I’ve checked my Twitter more than I’ve checked it probably in the last six months, following the whole #copypastecris debacle currently unfolding in the publishing world.
Long story short, it has been discovered a bestselling Brazilian “author” has been regularly plagiarizing actual authors for her books. The last count I saw was something like two dozen authors, many of whom are well-known, bestselling authors in their own right.
Even a cookbook and a few online magazines were plagiarized. You can read about the discovery on author Courtney Milan’s blog.
A year ago, this whole thing probably would have flown way under my radar. And I have a confession to make. A year ago, while I would have thought what she did was wrong and would have applauded any legal routes the authors took, I’m not sure I would have completely understood the vehement anger flooding Twitter right now.
Obviously, it is ingrained in me that plagiarism is wrong. It’s been beaten into my head over and over since I wrote my first paper in high school.
When I owned the news site, I had material swiped by readers and it was irritating. Not going to lie. One instance stands out solely because it was discovered when a reader tagged a friend in the comments to let her know I had stolen her photo. At least the other reader was honest enough to comment she had actually swiped mine.
The truth is, while I was annoyed, because, frankly I thought the picture was awesome and I was proud of it, I don’t remember being extremely angry. I had actually lucked into that picture. Just happened to be driving down the road at the right time. And, while it would have been nice for it to be shared, the other person wasn’t benefiting financially from it.
So, I let it go.
I let other things go, too, like when people would just copy and paste something from my site, instead of sharing it. Or copy and paste something in the comments so people wouldn’t have to click the link. It just wasn’t worth the effort explaining to people, ads were how I funded the site since it was free to the readers. In the end, it’s one of the reasons that site no longer exists.
Even with one novel released, I’m not sure I still got it.
Oh, but I do now.
You see, I’ve spent the last year just trying to finish a second novel. It’s been a year of writing, rewriting, trashing, finding it again, editing, rewriting again.
It’s been a whole boatload of mental crap I won’t go into right now but I’m finding I don’t have to explain to other authors. It’s been moments of giving up one night and getting back up the next morning, searching for a way to make it work. It’s been late nights and early mornings, while I try to carve out just a small part of my day to focus on writing.
It’s been giving up this and giving up that, so I can move it another rung toward the top of my to-do list.
In short, I’ve rearranged my life, my goals, my thought processes, just to eke out those words on my screen. Are they good enough to be stolen? Probably not.
But, if it happened, I would…
Straight-up. Cut. Someone.
I’m not even joking. That is the level of anger I would feel if someone stole what I wrote and used it as their own.
Similarities happen in this business. They just do. And it’s an internal battle I’ve been struggling with. Just in the last two weeks, I’ve read two novels, back-to-back, that have similarities to two of my works in progress.
Those similarities: a woman learns self-defense and there is a space ship.
Pause and think about that. That’s it. Just those generalized similarities gave me pause.
This woman flat-out copied and pasted full passages and with other passages, just changed a few words here and there. She claimed it was the ghostwriter’s fault before going dark on social media. (I’m going to be honest here and say I’m a little confused by the whole ghostwriting fiction thing but placing it in my “whatever” category for now.)
But as someone who has written blog posts for others, I find it hard to believe any of them wrote these novels without getting the material from her. Writing for others is not easy and you need constant feedback from the person you are writing for.
I have no doubt it started with her.
And I hope she gets what is coming to her.
I hope those authors go after her with all guns blazing.
I hope any others out there will pause before doing the same.
This isn’t a traditional publishing thing or an independent publishing thing. It’s not a kindle unlimited thing or traditional selling thing.
This is a thief thing.
To all of my artist friends out there, whether writer, musician, painter or photographer, who may have already understood all of this, I’m sorry I didn’t get it before.
I get it now.
My torches and pitchforks are at your disposal.