First of all, let me say from a reader’s point-of-view, that readers aren’t stupid. They are very attentive to detail, especially in a book that deeply engrosses them. They can’t be fooled, and if they are, it’s not for long.
In case you haven’t heard the latest internet buzz about one such author named Jordin Williams a.k.a. ghostwriter a.k.a. a hundred-thousand-other-fake-names and their plagiarizing fiasco, you can check it out here on the Dear Author blog: http://dearauthor.com/book-reviews/the-plagiarizing-of-tammara-webbers-easy-by-jordin-williams/.
Plagiarism isn’t anything new, and it happens quite frequently, and not just in the literary world. It’s unfortunate that someone has to steal another’s hard work and brand it as their own in order to take credit/make money. I will not go into all the details of what Jordin did, as it’s explained in the blog link above, which you can read at your own leisure. But I will simply summarize my thoughts and feelings about the whole thing.
The New Adult genre is currently one of the hottest-selling genres on the market. Hundreds of New Adult-themed books go up for sale every day, and many of them are instant-successes. It’s no wonder someone might be desperate enough to jump on the bandwagon and cash in on it too. But to do it so blatantly by copying-pasting scenes from best-selling New Adult books into your own book and calling it a finished product is not the way. There are many scenes that I love from some of my favorite authors. But I respect them enough to not plagiarize their hard work. If a scene inspires me, I write it in my own words. Because we as both authors and readers, envision things differently.
Of course, there’s no such thing as being 100% original these days. We see plenty of rehashes/remakes/etc. of scenes in books that were done and redone hundreds of years ago or more. But each of these rehashes tend to be told a little differently than the last. Every author is different, from their imaginations to their writing style. It is like their thumbprint. No two authors are the same. So to plagiarize another author’s style would not be that difficult to catch from attentive readers.
I definitely want to applaud the readers and bloggers who took this incident viral. The internet can be such a wonderful tool for dealing with things like this. Within hours of the incident being reported, Jordin’s book was taken off sale by Amazon, B&N, and other stores. Readers who purchased the book are being given refunds. Unfortunately, this incident is like another black eye to authors. Especially indie authors, because they have to work extra hard to dispell the many ongoing myths about indie authors equating to ‘amateurs’ and ‘low-quality’. But plagiarism occurs in the traditionally-published world, too. The bottom line is that while there are many people out there who are too lazy to think up their own stuff to write, so they have to steal from others, there are far more genuine, reputable authors out there who respect their readers and would never take advantage of them.
Lying to readers will only cause things like Jordin’s incident to happen. Be truthful to your readers and produce high-quality work from your heart, and they will respect you far more than if you try so hard to emulate Stephanie Meyer or some other author’s style. You can only go so far until you will be caught red-handed. And believe me, you WILL be caught. I’d rather not take the lazy route. I write because I enjoy it and I want to share my stories with the world. While money is always nice to get for my hard work in making these stories, it’s not my main focal point, and I don’t intend to quit my day job over it right now. I want to acquire more readers who find similar interests in my stories. I want to inspire other people to write that story that’s been screaming to come out of their minds. I want to spread the art of creativity and literacy to others.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first, nor will it be the last plagiarism incident we will see, but I do hope many authors read that article and think twice before they decide they want to lift another author’s work. If we can prevent at least one person from doing that as a result of this incident, then that’s a good thing.
But I think despite all the negativeness of this incident, I think the two people who benefitted from all this were the two authors whom Jordin plagiarized from. This incident has gone viral, and thus, the books have gotten a lot of promotional spotlight. The readers have been amazing with their powerful voices. I can only imagine the huge spike in sales that these books have seen, and/or will continue to see as a result. And those authors definitely deserve every penny and more that is owed to them for this mess. Apparently, imitation really is the highest form of flattery.