Good morning, all. I’m going to take the easy way out this morning and go back to my first role at MGC, that of pointing out interesting stories and linking to them. The reason is simple. First, I believe this is an issue we should all be aware of, whether we are writers, readers or both. Second, this book is eating my lunch and demanding my full attention. So, without further ado, here we go.
Last Friday, I posted a quick link to Nora Roberts’ blog where she discussed her history with plagiarism and the latest instance of it. To say Ms. Roberts was furious is probably putting it mildly. If you haven’t had a chance to read what she had to say, do so.
Ms. Roberts referred to Courtney Milan as being one of those who not only has fallen prey to plagiarists in the past but who takes the hurt to them when she finds out. Here’s what Ms. Milan had to say about this latest instance. Read it. Compare the examples Ms. Milan notes. When you do, I have a feeling you’ll agree with Ms. Milan that the plagiarist is an idiot on so many different levels.
The plagiarist in question, Cristiane Serruya, has come up with excuses, of course, for what happened. The main one is that she relied on ghost writers hired from Fiverr and they were the ones who did the bad deed. From the Guardian:
Responding on her now deleted Twitter account, Serruya initially expressed surprise at the accusations, and then blamed the overlap on a ghostwriter she said she had hired from freelance services marketplace Fiverr. The Guardian has contacted Serruya for comment.
“Wow, wow, wow. I just wake up to this. How could I have been plagiarizing 5 authors? I love your books, @TessaDare and I am a lawyer. I’d never do such a thing,” she wrote. “I just woke up to distressing news that my work has plagiarism from other authors. I am taking down all the works I did with a ghostwriter on Fiverr – who btw has closed the account – until I have made certain this is solved.”
Serruya is facing more than just Milan and other authors considering legal action. Romance Writers of America is investigating the situation. That is not something any romance writer wants to be the subject of.
For more on the Serruya’s claim that it was the ghost writers who did the bad deed, check out this post from Plagiarism Today. It also has a good breakdown of how the story started unfolding.
Edited to add: This is a pretty damned good response to the situation from Author Suzan Tisdale. I think she pretty much knocks it out of the park when she talks about novelists using ghostwriters. Warning, the video is approximately 20 minutes long.
Courtney Milan has two more posts of interest on the matter. The first is a step-by-step guide on what to do if you have been victimized by Serruya or any other plagiarist. If you are an author, bookmark this page. It is an invaluable resource should you ever find yourself in this situation.
The second of Ms. Milan’s related posts is an apology from the editor of one of Serruya’s books. I give kudos to the editor for stepping up.
This is a sad page in publishing, one we see all too often. It will be interesting to see how it plays out.
Of all the writers’ organizations to have unhappy with someone, the RWA is probably the most serious. They have lots of resources and are author-focused. Good for them in looking at this, and kudos to Mrs. Roberts and the others for making all this public for the rest of us to learn from.
RWA is the only “professional” writers organization I recommend these days. One of the reasons is because it does work to protect its members. It was also the first (?) to take any steps to recognize indie authors. (If not the first, one of the first to take real steps)
What I don’t get is why anyone would be foolish enough to try to rip-off Ms. Milan. She has shown more than once that she will do what it takes to protect her IP. More than that, she is open with other authors about the steps they need to take to do the same.
I just updated the post with a link to a youtube video by author Suzan Tisdale about the situation. She has some good very good points, especially about novelists using ghostwriters.
Heh. She doesn’t come up with a legit reason to hire a ghost writer. I think that the kindest I can think of is if a book is sold and then “life” happens and the contract needs to be met. But there, a one-off. Just a one-off.
Not exactly “one and done”, but she IS DONE…until she comes up with a pseudonym.
If you rabbit trail through the links there’s a fair few people wondering if she IS the pseudonym. I haven’t found this part of the rabbit trail, but they’re talking links to a known factor who’s done this sort of thing before. (I’d tag it as ‘a line of investigation worthy of following’ and also check others.
It’s easier to uncover plagiarism than ever before, but people keep doing it. I am reminded of this bizarre case from a few years back: https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/q-r-markhams-plagiarism-puzzle
gonna be a long time unfolding
What I find somewhat distressing is Nora Roberts (or her agent, not clear to me which since I’m not a Romance reader) blaming Amazon for all this.
Well, of course, electronic readers make plagiarism easier, but I’m not blaming Microsoft or Google for Nigerian scam artists using email to perpetrate their scams. The same technology also makes tools (commonly used by college professors) available to detect plagiarism. I remember in the early days alerting Amazon to obvious scams going on with their self-publishing, and eventually those disappeared. And of course there are those trying to rig the book rankings (like that never went on with the NY Times best seller list).
I remember all the same scam artists advertising in Writer’s Digest back in the 70’s. Those ads were probably the only thing keeping the magazine afloat. They would give you some good advice in the articles and then have obvious rip-off artists advertising right next to them. None of that means Indie=evil.