***Please click on images to make them bigger, Melanie added them and technology hates her***
Two things have happened in the last week that has caused us to write this post. Well, Andi is writing it 🙂 I know that both of these are Romance related, but this is going on in every genre, so it is important to notice the signs.
The first is just bad press and honestly, I don’t find him attractive. But then I don’t find guys whose muscles apparently have left their head and moved to other parts attractive.
Well, Jimmy Thomas is again putting his foot in his (very large) mouth and must be trying to retire from being a cover model. As an industry, we should just let him go. Tell him don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.
In early January, he went to Facebook to ridicule large people and the romance community as a whole. There were book cover creators who were offering authors free covers to replace ones with his face on them. If you don’t know him, he is on the cover of many romance novels, and is even the “romance” model for Dominos, but likely not for long.
Well, apparently, him losing business meant nothing, because just today he again wrote a post about how women should have sex with men, because it is a NEED, and “bad things” will happen if you don’t. Then he said that “for men, sex is like shoes, makeup, shaving, and shampoo for women.”
Why does he say this crap? Because he can, and he does, and he still has over 2700 people who like his fan page and he will still get covers. He even owns a cover company. I supposed he could always say it’s just his fan page and he doesn’t run it, but he doesn’t. Instead, he responds to comments and is a douche about it.
This other one is the one that we need to be really aware of because it really shows what is wrong with the industry and Amazon in particular. This doesn’t just happen in Romance, and we shouldn’t be quiet about it.
A reader recently went to Courtney Milan, a romance author, to tell her that she read a book by a NYT best selling author, Cristiane Serruya. The reader was starting to believe that Cristiane copied Courtney’s work. Courtney didn’t want to believe it at first, but then as she started reading, it started to make her sick. As I am sure it would make anyone who read a chopped up, crappily edited version of their own work bastardized into something someone else was profiting from. Here is the post that started it.
So Cristaine was like “what? No, I wouldn’t do that… blahblahblah” mind you, by this time we had a hashtag #copypastecris because it was becoming evident that Courtney wasn’t the only one. In fact, it got worse throughout the day, by the end of the first day, the number was something like 24 authors, 3 recipes, and 27 books that had been stolen from. I just looked at the list and it is 51 books, 34 authors, recipes, and websites.
She made a lot of money off other people’s work. She tried to blame a ghostwriter, saying that she paid someone off fiverr to do the work. The Ghostwriter(s) came forward and were like, “wait a minute, we were given chunks of writing (which we now find out were stolen) and told to make a story around it.”
One of the authors above, if you noticed is Nora Roberts, award-winning writing, and personally, I devour all of her JD Robb books. Well, she isn’t on twitter, and so it wasn’t until her publicist and publisher found out that she did. She wrote this article about it, and it tore me apart. She has written more on the subject, as has Courtney.
Here is the big issue, it isn’t just the plagiarizers, it is also Amazon. They allow book stuffers to steal money from the KDP fund. They allow people to upload books that aren’t theirs. It is a mess and Amazon isn’t doing anything to fight back against the big guys. But people trying to do the right thing get screwed by Amazon on the regular.
Here is my personal story about it. I published a book for an author. It was then picked up by a publisher. That publisher went out of business but still continued to collect royalties. After two years, the author, tired of not being paid, wanted to take back their rights. The company was non-existent, couldn’t be reached, all emails were sent back. So they uploaded their book with a new ISBN and Amazon threatened to ban the account, not just not publish the book, but ban the Amazon account because of ‘copyright infringement’.
We wrote Amazon, I told them what was going on. They 1) didn’t remove it from the Publisher’s page, and 2) wouldn’t let us publish it. We spoke to them, the author went so far as to ask about a notary letter stating that it was theirs. The author name was their legal name. Nope… Nothing… Finally, after filing for breach of contract and a court order, Amazon finally agreed to let us publish it. Almost a year after the author was wanting to republish it.
So YAY you think right? Amazon cares? Well, then why do they have someone who has uploaded over 100,000 stolen works and Amazon won’t take it down? This “publisher” is uploading books with the author and cover the same as the original. Not just plagiarizing, but stealing the entire work, and NOTHING, I repeat NOTHING is being done.
Yet Amazon is quick to remove a review where they think you were “paid” for it, and if you are friends with an author, it is hard to have your reviews of their books left up for any amount of time. That is all okay, but as seen by my story, a small publisher with 5 books and an author of 1 book they spend weeks on.
Writing to Amazon has done nothing. You can’t not buy from Amazon because they have pretty much the sole market for indie and self-publishing. What can you do? Be careful who you buy from. Buy directly from Authors at events or local book stores. Most importantly, regardless of genre. If you see something that looks to be a duplication, tell the author, tell the publisher, tell Amazon *not that they necessarily care.* It isn’t just romance books, it is all genres.
Okay soap box done.