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Friday, September 5, 2014

Authors Behaving Badly

Sigh! It's happening again. Every few months or so, something brings out the ugly author. 

Maybe it's lunar. We creative types are often driven by the phases of the moon. Maybe it's the solitude of our craft. We tend to immerse ourselves in our own little worlds, barely coming out for air or human contact--especially when we're on a writing jag or deadline. Maybe it's emotional. I've always said that writers "feel" things differently than other humans. That's what makes us so good at toying with the emotions of our readers.

Whatever the reason, the bats have left the belfry and are flying willy-nilly through the world, wreaking havoc. 

Case in point #1: The case of the plagiarist vs. Rachel Ann Nunes. Although her real name and aliases (and there are many!) have been released to the public, I won't give this one any additional publicity. In a nutshell, the plagiarist was caught copying Ms. Nunes's work to pass off as her own by changing a few words here and there and adding some sexy-time scenes. When the facts started to come out into the open, she took to Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon to besmirch Ms. Nunes's character and belittle her books by posting dozens of one-star reviews. Go to the plagiarist's Goodreads author page (it's still up) and you'll see under the "Quotations" section where she's taking credit for quotes from a book written by another author (with an oddly similar name--coincidence? Umm...no.) as her own.

There's a special place in hell (or wherever you believe the dead go after they depart Earth) for plagiarists. They steal not only their victims' words, but pieces of their heart and soul. For profit. In this case, the perpetrator went farther by continuing to attack the victim, even after she was caught. 

Plagiarists are everywhere these days. Today, an author claimed an entire boxed set--no longer available for sale through legitimate channels--was plagiarized by another scoundrel. How do we catch these villains? Generally, it's our savvy readers who first connect that a story seems far too familiar and does the initial research out of curiosity (and a need to stay sane). But it's up to the original author of the story to do the dirty work, which includes hiring a lawyer to sue for damages. The crime itself and the follow-up procedures cost a lot of money, take a lot of time, and rip an author away from her steady writing income. So not only is the plagiarist stealing an author's earnings by claiming the work as his/her own, (s)he's also stealing future earnings, past earnings, and present earnings. It's a vicious cycle. 

Please read Ms. Nunes's story here and here. And if you can, please visit her GoFundMe page to assist with her legal fees here.


Case in point #2: The case of the author diva. Diva girl's Facebook post (again, not providing names because why give her any additional promotion?), wherein she berated her readers for asking her questions that could easily be answered on Google, thereby taking her away from precious writing time, went viral in a twenty-four hour period. Both readers and other writers have been (for the most part) taking her to task ever since for her boorish behavior. Rumor has it, in a previous tantrum, she complained that her recently released book didn't hit the bestselling list fast enough and then proceeded to bash the authors and books that did make the list. She also proudly boasted she didn't care if her words hurt her readers' feelings because...who needs 'em? 

Well, sweetheart, you do. Without our readers, writers don't get paid for our work. Without our readers, we don't catch the plagiarists. We writers create our works to be read. To be enjoyed. We long to touch our readers emotionally. Without readers, we might still have a product, but it's back where it was before we published: under our beds, in a desk drawer, or still in our heads. 

Writers aren't perfect. We make mistakes--sometimes big ones. But we should be honest and put only our own words on the page. And we should respect our readers for their support and love of our work.

To my fellow writers, thank you for sharing the pieces of your heart with us.
To my readers, thank you for loving the pieces I share with you.


For tips on writing and fun articles, visit Gina's Articles For Writers page: http://www.ginaardito.com/ArticlesforWriters.html
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