If you’re on Twitter, you may have noticed #CopyPasteCris trending and wondered (as I did) what the heck is going on. In a word, PLAGARISM. I’m livid as an author and as a reader, for reasons I’ll explain below.
First an overview (as I understand the issue). Best selling “author” Cristiane Serruya got busted for stitching together books that contained large swaths of words originally written by Courtney Milan, Tessa Dare, and Bella Andre, among others. It gets worse. She blamed the ghost-writer she found on fiverr for the “error.” Romance Writers of America and a slew of lawyers are on the case. You can go to twitter and read through the thread to see both how blatant the rip offs were and how fierce romance writers are.
Author me is pissed that this person made the best seller list by buying up other people’s words and then somehow further gaming the system to get on list. Someone who would misrepresent their work in such an egregious way would likely have no ethical problem paying a bot-farm or some such other nonsense to download enough books to get on a trending list and get enough attention that unwitting readers buy the book in good faith. Author me knows how hard it is to get a book noticed. I cracked the Amazon top 250 ebooks list once, in a bundle with six other books. Author me also knows how often I’m solicited with offers to “guarantee” me a “bestseller” for $XXX dollars. I don’t click. I have ethics. So do most working authors.
Author me is also irritated by voices in publishing shouting that you can’t make money unless you publish a book a month or better yet two. I can understand putting out 3 books in 3 months if it is a trilogy with a long lead time coming up to it, but very few authors (if any) can put out a quality, full length book in a month. Readers buy these books on the “can’t miss” pre-order sale, but I have to wonder how many sit unread on the e-reader or how many are abandoned due to quality issues.
As a reader, I’m angry about this plagiarism, too. I didn’t buy any of Cris Serruya’s books, but if I had, I’d demand my money back. I don’t typically return books because I appreciate the amount of work that went into a book, even if I don’t like it. Cris Serruya stole money from both readers and my fellow authors. I’m angry that someone got paid for a cut and paste job and that the “author” with her name on the cover didn’t care enough about “her work” to look at it, because it was all in the name of the increasingly meaningless “bestseller” tag.
If I spend my money on a book (which I often do), I want the money to go to the people who pulled it all together, the writer, the cover designer, the editor. I want a clean product, where the character names don’t change half way through and the story is coherent. As a reader, I’ve fallen for authors that start off with a strong series (I read a lot of cozy mysteries), and then they get another idea, and another idea, and soon they have three series each kicking out a book a month and there is no quality control and the writing differs so much from series to series that you have to assume they are ghost-written or maybe—in light of recent incidents—copy-pasted for speed. I have a growing list of authors I will not read because they have poisoned their brand in pursuit of speed and fame. As a reader, I’ve become jaded and less willing to take a chance on an unfamiliar author, especially one self-pubbed.
That last point hurts. If you want to know why I have not had a new release in the last two years it is because as a reader and a writer, I want to put out a quality product. I have completed manuscripts making the rounds with publishers and agents. I may self-publish the one that has had full manuscript interest from multiple parties but no room in anyone’s publishing calendar. But there’s one problem. I don’t earn enough from my books full of my blood and tears and ethics because plagiarized crap and unprofessional “writers” are stealing money from all of us.
Thanks for reading my rant. These words are free to read, unprofessionally edited, and from the same source as all my other words—my heart, my head, and my fingertips.