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View Full Version : Well, this is just sad



sarahdalton
06-26-2013, 11:04 PM
A 'self-published' author released a book called 'Amazingly Broken' which became an instant success and climbed all the way up to #6 on the Amazon charts.

Unfortunately the writer plagiarised from two very popular books and has now had their book removed from Amazon.

http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/the-plagiarizing-of-tammara-webbers-easy-by-jordin-williams/?fb_source=pubv1

This person has been posting on Kindleboards, and I just had a feeling something seemed off. The book has also been on every blog I know! It's not often that an author with one book has instant success like that. It just seemed odd.

Since the book has been removed she's deleted her accounts on Facebook, Twitter and forums and claims she hired a 'ghostwriter' who plagiarised the book for her. But, others have pointed out that she listed herself as a ghostwriter on her Facebook account.

Anyway, it's just all very skeevy. And unfortunately it smudges self-publishing (yet again) making us all look like incompetent hacks. :rant:

veinglory
06-26-2013, 11:21 PM
I think the market has got to the point of knowing people are responsible for their own actions whether self- or third-party published. There has been plenty of plagiarism exposed recently in both arenas.

girlyswot
06-27-2013, 12:58 AM
Cassie Edwards recently attempted to republish her old plagiarised titles. I think Amazon took them down pretty quickly once they were alerted to it.

Emma Clark
06-27-2013, 01:22 AM
At least she was caught.

Now she has a lawsuit to look forward to, should the other author decide to file one.

I would. ;)

LOTLOF
06-27-2013, 01:54 AM
I am not sure which is sadder, that they plagiarized or that they thought they would get away with it. It is pointless, because the proof of your crime is always going to be out there, and it only takes one person to make the connection.

As writers, I think it's fair to say that we all steal. How many fantasy stories have been inspired by the Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings? How many romances follow the familiar pattern of love triangle involving an innocent woman and a mysterious bad boy? How many stories involving magical schools or an orphaned boy who is the chosen one have there been since Harry Potter? How many stories about zombies have we seen recently?

We steal ideas, concepts, character types, plot lines, and the occasional bit of dialogue. It is just about impossible to write something that is 100% completely original. To one degree or another we take elements from previous stories and try to make them out own.

There is nothing at all wrong with that. We take inspiration from what we love and try to create something that is ours.

What this person did was just plain open theft.

Undercover
06-27-2013, 02:06 AM
I was trying to read some of the articles, but my computer kept going down. I saw some, that she's blaming it on the ghost-writer? So how much of the other books were used? Sounds like chunks and chunks of it. It marvels me too how people think they could get away with something like that. It's right there in plain writing.

Ann Joyce
06-27-2013, 04:33 AM
It's sad all right. It's hard to grasp why anyone would want to steal someone else's work and claim it as their own. I guess it's kind of in the same catagory as identity theft in a way. Someone who wants something for nothing and has no regard for their victim.

RLMcKeown
06-27-2013, 06:43 AM
It is sad, especially since the chunks of writing that WEREN'T stolen seemed to be written well. Of course, who knows if they were stolen, too.

Old Hack
06-27-2013, 10:40 AM
It's not sad, it's theft. And it has very little to do with self publishing, and a lot to do with the ethics of the writer concerned.

As she has self-published she won't have the resources that a writer with a larger trade publisher has: for example, she won't have the automatic legal backup that trade publishers provide. She's likely to find that a big problem.

sarahdalton
06-27-2013, 11:44 AM
Of course it's theft! That doesn't mean I can't be saddened by the act.

I think this does have a lot to do with self-publishing, which is why I posted it here and not the Roundtable. Firstly, controversies in one area tend to leave a bad smell. With the review buying scandal and the many articles about how self-publishing is ruining literature -- this is just going to add to it.

More importantly, I would imagine this has been very embarrassing for Amazon. To get to #6 in the charts you have to sell thousands of copies, which will leave thousands of disgruntled customers. If this had been trade publishing with an editor, I wonder if it might have been picked up? I don't know how likely this is. I know plagiarism has occurred before. But the passages are taken from two of the biggest selling books in the genre... it wasn't exactly subtle.

I wonder whether Amazon might consider adding plagiarism software to their screening process. It's just a thought.

There's another layer in all of this. The same story appeared on a fan fiction site. So either the writer stole the fan fiction who stole from the books. Or they wrote the fan fiction and stole from the first two books. It's all very complicated!

Becky Black
06-27-2013, 11:56 AM
The plot keeps thickening on this one. There's a Twilight fanfic on fanfiction dot net that is apparently this story (with different character names), but which is of course plagiarised from the two original books. It's got the same title.

So either the author of the fanfic and the book are the same person and the idiot didn't take down the fic before changing the names and publishing a book. (That seems the most likely. They don't appear to be the sharpest knife in the drawer.) Or this is some kind of bizarro chain of plagiarism.

Like the fanfic author plagiarised the other two books for their fic and then this "Jordin" person (or their supposed ghost writer) came along and plagiarised the fanfic, not realising it was already plagiarised itself! It's like plagiarism Chinese whispers. If enough people keep on plagiarising with small tweaks it might eventually end up as an original story. ;)

MmeGuillotine
06-27-2013, 01:40 PM
I've already seen a number of people on Twitter say that they won't read any more self published books because of this.

Torgo
06-27-2013, 02:27 PM
It's not sad, it's theft. And it has very little to do with self publishing, and a lot to do with the ethics of the writer concerned.

As she has self-published she won't have the resources that a writer with a larger trade publisher has: for example, she won't have the automatic legal backup that trade publishers provide. She's likely to find that a big problem.

Although trade contracts tend to take a dim view of plagiarism - one shouldn't count on publishers' lawyers to defend obvious theft.

Old Hack
06-27-2013, 05:58 PM
Agreed, Torgo: but I have known publishers to defend the books they've invested a lot of money in, when from my point of view the books they were defending were clearly worrisome.

LOTLOF
06-27-2013, 06:04 PM
I've already seen a number of people on Twitter say that they won't read any more self published books because of this.

Which is perhaps the most unjust aspect of all this.

That all of us who self publish, and give all that we have to create a great story, will be guilty by association. Self publishing does not have the best reputation as it is. Now in the minds of some there will be a connection between self publishing and plagiarism.

It is not fair, but it is a reality.

sarahdalton
06-27-2013, 06:13 PM
Quite a few bloggers have been burned by this experience, too. They ran lots of giveaways and reviews for Amazingly Broken. I wouldn't be surprised if it's even harder to find bloggers to review self-published books after this.

heza
06-27-2013, 06:39 PM
How did it become so popular though? That seems like a heck of a marketing campaign.

Maybe when she said "ghostwriter," she really meant "fanfic author I lifted this from."

sarahdalton
06-27-2013, 07:08 PM
How did it become so popular though? That seems like a heck of a marketing campaign.

Maybe when she said "ghostwriter," she really meant "fanfic author I lifted this from."

Yeah, it's all very dodgy. I don't know if money changed hands or not.

The marketing all came from blogs and reviews. I think he/she (not sure anymore -- pen name and stock photo plus fake bio I think) gave away quite a few books for review.

Everything seems thought out to me -- from the cover (which looks very similar to some of HM Ward's covers -- another big writer in the NA world) to the genre, to the crappy title, to the books the work has been lifted from. It strikes me as someone who just wanted to rise up the rankings. I think a lot of reviews appeared on the Amazon page in a short amount of time so there could have been some sock puppeting going on too.

Basically every underhand tactic that could be employed...

MmeGuillotine
06-27-2013, 08:29 PM
It is sad that we all get tarred with the same brush by this - however on the other hand, we have to remember that we've already weathered many a storm from The Greek Seaman (remember that?) to a multitude of author hissy fits to allegations of buying reviews to all manner of dodgy, unprofessional and decidedly underhand and unpleasant behaviour from some of our self publishing peers (I know, it's squicky to still call them peers when they're behaving badly but there it is) BUT we're still here and people are still buying and enjoying our books.

I think most sensible readers know that as always there is a small and sadly vocal minority ruining things for the majority and will already know that the vast majority of us would never EVER do something like this.

This too will pass. :)

Mr Flibble
06-27-2013, 08:33 PM
Although trade contracts tend to take a dim view of plagiarism - one shouldn't count on publishers' lawyers to defend obvious theft.


Agreed, Torgo: but I have known publishers to defend the books they've invested a lot of money in, when from my point of view the books they were defending were clearly worrisome.

I suppose they might defend it, but surely the writer would be in breach of contract? (I haven't got mine to hand, but I'm pretty sure there's a bit in there about confirming it's all your own work. If it then turns out it isn't....)

Old Hack
06-27-2013, 08:44 PM
I suppose they might defend it, but surely the writer would be in breach of contract? (I haven't got mine to hand, but I'm pretty sure there's a bit in there about confirming it's all your own work. If it then turns out it isn't....)

Hell, yes, they'd be in breach of contract. But I have seen publishers defend such cases--at least at first.


It is sad that we all get tarred with the same brush by this - however on the other hand, we have to remember that we've already weathered many a storm from The Greek Seaman (remember that?) to a multitude of author hissy fits to allegations of buying reviews to all manner of dodgy, unprofessional and decidedly underhand and unpleasant behaviour from some of our self publishing peers (I know, it's squicky to still call them peers when they're behaving badly but there it is) BUT we're still here and people are still buying and enjoying our books.

I think most sensible readers know that as always there is a small and sadly vocal minority ruining things for the majority and will already know that the vast majority of us would never EVER do something like this.

This too will pass. :)

I've never considered things like this to be a self-publishing issue, and I don't see this case as a self-publishing issue. It's a plagiarism issue, and it's not going to affect my view of self-publishing at all.

Most of the writers I know are talented, honest, creative and ethical people who work incredibly hard and would never dream of doing something like this.

Torgo
06-27-2013, 09:01 PM
I suppose they might defend it, but surely the writer would be in breach of contract? (I haven't got mine to hand, but I'm pretty sure there's a bit in there about confirming it's all your own work. If it then turns out it isn't....)

Depends how clear-cut it is, really.

ebbrown
06-27-2013, 09:19 PM
More importantly, I would imagine this has been very embarrassing for Amazon. To get to #6 in the charts you have to sell thousands of copies, which will leave thousands of disgruntled customers. If this had been trade publishing with an editor, I wonder if it might have been picked up? I don't know how likely this is. I know plagiarism has occurred before. But the passages are taken from two of the biggest selling books in the genre... it wasn't exactly subtle.

I wonder whether Amazon might consider adding plagiarism software to their screening process. It's just a thought.



Seriously awful. I was also curious exactly how many books she sold. I know how much I have sold, and the lowest ranked I've ever been is in the 2,000s on Amazon. She must have sold a hell of a lot of books to reach #6.

Did you notice she also claimed to have not received any money? I wonder how the refunds will be processed? Not sure what planet she's on, but I get a check every month from Amazon.

I was disappointed to hear this tale, sad all around. And I must admit, a bit envious that someone with a plagiarized book sold the living crap outta it, when I work my arse off for every new reader I gain.

Ok, I suppose that sounded like some sour grapes. :Shrug:But it just sucks all around.

MmeGuillotine
06-27-2013, 09:36 PM
It isn't and shouldn't be a self publishing issue but I have seen plenty of people talk about this particular case as if plagiarism is somehow particularly endemic in self publishing circles.

I dunno, what happened was awful but I don't think it's either a. a particularly common scenario and b. any more likely to happen in self publishing than in trade. :)

MmeGuillotine
06-27-2013, 09:36 PM
That doesn't sound like sour grapes - of course it's annoying! :)

Andrhia
06-27-2013, 09:58 PM
It isn't and shouldn't be a self publishing issue but I have seen plenty of people talk about this particular case as if plagiarism is somehow particularly endemic in self publishing circles.

I feel like genuine original self-published content gets tarred with the same brush as the predators who are ex. bundling Wikipedia articles and selling them as ebooks. It's not plagiarism *exactly*, but it's definitely enough to make people cast the stink-eye upon self-publishing as a whole. Unjustly, yes... but that's life for you.

ebbrown
06-27-2013, 10:41 PM
That doesn't sound like sour grapes - of course it's annoying! :)

;)

ebbrown
06-27-2013, 10:45 PM
Oh, crap. Apparently the GR group I'm in is being called into question now as connected somehow. I was wondering if they knew the author, since that plagiarized book was a group read. Funny, before this all started, I was wondering how that book was chosen for the group read, haha....

I'm going to be sad if the group is a scam. I kinda liked some of the convos with the other members. I should have known something was not quite right when I was invited and befriended by someone I had never spoken to.
Ugh.
Oh, my.

Plot Thickens (https://word.office.live.com/wv/WordView.aspx?FBsrc=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com %2Fdownload%2Ffile_preview.php%3Fid%3D478238672270 057%26time%3D1372344273%26metadata&access_token=1210097847%3AAVI5aGkpvm57k9ltAM8QEaoA RJ_hC_sILV5uw2rjNbI3zg&title=Plagiarism+Plot+Thickens.docx)

MmeGuillotine
06-27-2013, 11:25 PM
Oh yes those 'books' are so annoying and it's immensely frustrating when people start banging on about how 'all' self published books are like that. Not to mention insulting! That IS just a self publishing issue as I don't think there's any equivalent in trade publishing circles.

I'll be honest, stuff like this and the resultant loudly voiced opinions that people seem to have about self published books and their writers do often make me, well, burn in shame a bit and want to jack it all in, get an agent and go down the trade publishing route. I have to remind myself that it's all rubbish, that most people DON'T think that way and that, well, all of these huge dramas always blow over eventually.

It's hard not to take it personally though sometimes. I'm sure people engaged in any profession feel a shiver of embarrassed horror when a peer gets called out for wrong doing. It's only natural, surely? :)

MmeGuillotine
06-27-2013, 11:26 PM
Oh no, E.B, that's awful! I hope it's just the rumour mill churning and not an actual issue. :(

Jamiekswriter
06-27-2013, 11:32 PM
Not sure what planet she's on, but I get a check every month from Amazon.
.

I thought Amazon held back a quarter? So maybe she hasn't seem the first quarter sales yet?

shelleyo
06-27-2013, 11:50 PM
I thought Amazon held back a quarter? So maybe she hasn't seem the first quarter sales yet?

They pay on a 60-day term. What you earned in January will be paid at the end March. Since this book was released just days ago, that person has not received the money from Amazon yet, and won't.

Polenth
06-27-2013, 11:51 PM
I'll be honest, stuff like this and the resultant loudly voiced opinions that people seem to have about self published books and their writers do often make me, well, burn in shame a bit and want to jack it all in, get an agent and go down the trade publishing route. I have to remind myself that it's all rubbish, that most people DON'T think that way and that, well, all of these huge dramas always blow over eventually.

Then someone in the trade publishing world plagiarises, and people declare it's the end of trade publishing. Editors obviously don't edit anymore or editors don't read/love books anymore because they didn't recognise the text. Therefore, the future is self-publishing.

When someone uses anything like this to declare any route is the one true path/completely terrible, it's what they thought anyway. The situation was just a handy hook to hang their opinions on.

Whichever way people aim it, they're often missing the point that the person at fault is the plagiarist. Not the editor who missed it, or the publishing platform who didn't catch it sooner, or anyone who might happen to be in the same general area.

shelleyo
06-27-2013, 11:58 PM
I'll be honest, stuff like this and the resultant loudly voiced opinions that people seem to have about self published books and their writers do often make me, well, burn in shame a bit and want to jack it all in, get an agent and go down the trade publishing route. I have to remind myself that it's all rubbish, that most people DON'T think that way and that, well, all of these huge dramas always blow over eventually.

First, what Polenth said. Second, we notice who publishes books because we're writers. A few readers may also pay attention to this. Most couldn't tell you what publishing house publishes this writer or that or that last book they loved or hated. They don't know if it was self-published or small-press published or rolled out by the big guns.

It'll be fine.



It's hard not to take it personally though sometimes. I'm sure people engaged in any profession feel a shiver of embarrassed horror when a peer gets called out for wrong doing. It's only natural, surely? :)

I shake my head that anyone thought he might get away with it, but no, I don't feel embarrassed horror. The plagiarist wasn't my peer in any sense of the word, and I think most people realize that kind of thing. If not, well, there's probably no convincing them anyway!

ebbrown
06-28-2013, 12:00 AM
I thought Amazon held back a quarter? So maybe she hasn't seem the first quarter sales yet?

I get paid every month on the 20th, since March when Amazon announced they went to monthly royalty payments.:Shrug:

running off now to look at my statement, since I thought it was only 30 days behind??

Ok, so this was my report date for the royalties I received on 6/20: Sales report for the period 01-May-2013 to 31-May-2013
So it looks like it is not that far behind. But Shellyo is right, at least the writer did not receive any money from the sales yet. Glad Amazon is refunding the readers.

shelleyo
06-28-2013, 12:04 AM
I get paid every month on the 20th, since March when Amazon announced they went to monthly royalty payments.:Shrug:

running off now to look at my statement, since I thought it was only 30 days behind??

I mentioned this upthread--it's 60. What you earn in January will paid end of March, February end of April, etc. B&N and Apple are the same. If you distirbute through Draft2Digital, you're paid monthly with a similar delay (varying by retailer). Smashwords and AllRomanceEbooks are the ones that are quarterly

Old Hack
06-28-2013, 12:06 AM
Oh yes those 'books' are so annoying and it's immensely frustrating when people start banging on about how 'all' self published books are like that. Not to mention insulting! That IS just a self publishing issue as I don't think there's any equivalent in trade publishing circles.

I'll be honest, stuff like this and the resultant loudly voiced opinions that people seem to have about self published books and their writers do often make me, well, burn in shame a bit and want to jack it all in, get an agent and go down the trade publishing route. I have to remind myself that it's all rubbish, that most people DON'T think that way and that, well, all of these huge dramas always blow over eventually.

It's hard not to take it personally though sometimes. I'm sure people engaged in any profession feel a shiver of embarrassed horror when a peer gets called out for wrong doing. It's only natural, surely? :)

It is only natural, but it's not necessary.

I've not self-published but I have worked with people who have, and I have watched so many people here at AW and elsewhere work their socks off to do well at self-publishing. Every single one of you has my admiration: it's a hard road to tread, but you do it with dignity and pride and it makes me mad that any of you might be thought less of because of the actions of one cheating plagiariser.

So there.

ebbrown
06-28-2013, 12:07 AM
Whichever way people aim it, they're often missing the point that the person at fault is the plagiarist. Not the editor who missed it, or the publishing platform who didn't catch it sooner, or anyone who might happen to be in the same general area.

Agreed.

MmeGuillotine
06-28-2013, 12:13 AM
Oh yes, I'm sure it'll all be fine. It always is. :)

ebbrown
06-28-2013, 12:32 AM
Derail, but Andrhia (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=19409), I love your profile pic.

Just sayin'. :)

Andrhia
06-28-2013, 12:51 AM
Derail, but Andrhia (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/member.php?u=19409), I love your profile pic.

Just sayin'. :)

Hahah, thank you! My daughter made the moustache. ^_^ I get a lot of complaints that it doesn't match my hair, tho...

shelleyo
06-28-2013, 01:05 AM
Lookee. A flowchart.

http://www.teresamummert.com/1/post/2013/06/plagiarism.html

Andrhia
06-28-2013, 02:22 AM
Lookee. A flowchart.

http://www.teresamummert.com/1/post/2013/06/plagiarism.html

My head is spinning. Is the implication here that these are all... one person?

sarahdalton
06-28-2013, 11:51 AM
Oh yes those 'books' are so annoying and it's immensely frustrating when people start banging on about how 'all' self published books are like that. Not to mention insulting! That IS just a self publishing issue as I don't think there's any equivalent in trade publishing circles.

I'll be honest, stuff like this and the resultant loudly voiced opinions that people seem to have about self published books and their writers do often make me, well, burn in shame a bit and want to jack it all in, get an agent and go down the trade publishing route. I have to remind myself that it's all rubbish, that most people DON'T think that way and that, well, all of these huge dramas always blow over eventually.

It's hard not to take it personally though sometimes. I'm sure people engaged in any profession feel a shiver of embarrassed horror when a peer gets called out for wrong doing. It's only natural, surely? :)

You're not the only one. I tend to take it personally too, sometimes. It's only natural when you work so hard at something.

But Polenth made a really good point, which makes me feel much better.

I'm currently trying to get my head around that flowchart -- wow! With all those books and author accounts (if it's the same person) it looks like they might have been paid by Amazon afterall.

I think I might check my Goodreads friend list, check none of these people have befriended me! I always just click the tick box and don't pay much attention!

Emma Clark
06-28-2013, 12:41 PM
It is only natural, but it's not necessary.

I've not self-published but I have worked with people who have, and I have watched so many people here at AW and elsewhere work their socks off to do well at self-publishing. Every single one of you has my admiration: it's a hard road to tread, but you do it with dignity and pride and it makes me mad that any of you might be thought less of because of the actions of one cheating plagiariser.

So there.

Aww! :D

MmeGuillotine
06-28-2013, 12:51 PM
I love Old Hack. <3

MmeGuillotine
06-28-2013, 12:53 PM
That flowchart is MIND BOGGLING. Crikey.

On the other hand, is anyone else thinking that the person behind all of this should be concentrating on their evident l33t skills as a marketing genius rather than *ahem* 'their' writing?

ebbrown
06-29-2013, 02:31 AM
I love Old Hack. <3

me too :Thumbs:

ebbrown
06-29-2013, 02:33 AM
That flowchart is MIND BOGGLING. Crikey.

On the other hand, is anyone else thinking that the person behind all of this should be concentrating on their evident l33t skills as a marketing genius rather than *ahem* 'their' writing?

Damn, that's what I've been thinking! It boggles my mind.

shelleyo
06-29-2013, 03:32 AM
That flowchart is MIND BOGGLING. Crikey.

On the other hand, is anyone else thinking that the person behind all of this should be concentrating on their evident l33t skills as a marketing genius rather than *ahem* 'their' writing?

Yeah, they should use their forces for good, not evil. :P

Unfortunately, the reviews were probably, at least in part, fake/paid for. And the giveaways were scams, with the date continually pushed back so no one received the rewards.

Really skanky stuff.

merrihiatt
06-29-2013, 04:39 AM
It is only natural, but it's not necessary.

I've not self-published but I have worked with people who have, and I have watched so many people here at AW and elsewhere work their socks off to do well at self-publishing. Every single one of you has my admiration: it's a hard road to tread, but you do it with dignity and pride and it makes me mad that any of you might be thought less of because of the actions of one cheating plagiariser.

So there.

Thanks, OH!

Emma Clark
07-01-2013, 02:27 AM
me too :Thumbs:

me 3. :tongue