Oh, it’s been a week of shenanigans in the writing world. We’ve had plagiarism, temper tantrums, and retaliatory one-star ratings on books. When I first stumbled into the writing world with my unpublished, adverb-riddled manuscript in hand, I was struck by how generous and helpful most authors are. I’ve met authors who are willing to beta-read a four-hundred page manuscript or spend hours editing while asking for nothing in return. I’ve heard of a cover artist who offered a free book cover to a struggling writer. The entire industry–authors, editors, artists, even publishers–is made up of some amazingly wonderful people, many of whom I’m proud to call friends. But, in any industry there are bound to be a few bad eggs who muck it up for everyone else.
Shenanigans have been around forever, certainly long before I was old enough to read. Lately, there have been reports of sock-puppet reviews, five-star reviews for hire, and tantrum-throwing authors who go ballistic because a reader gave him or her a bad review. So, why am I choosing this week to address these age-old issues? Because this week it’s hitting close to home.
- Plagiarism: I personally know authors who have been victims of plagiarism. When the thieves are overseas, it’s almost impossible to track down the culprit and sue for damages. A few days ago, I was notified that an ‘author’ who guest-posted on my Authors to Watch blog had been accused of plagiarism. After some research, I determined this was indeed true and removed the guest-post immediately. I was enraged to think my blog might have helped promote this plagiarist’s stolen book. I know how hard it is to write a book. To have someone steal your work would be disheartening and infuriating. The book in question has since been removed from Amazon, but how much money did this thief make before she was caught? And how many other plagiarists are out there?
- Temper Tantrums: There isn’t a single book in this universe that will appeal to every reader. Authors better realize this before they publish, or they’re setting themselves up for a world of hurt and disappointment. I’ve seen some monumental tantrums this week from authors who feel like their books have been unfairly judged and that the reviews are too harsh. I’ve seen fights between readers and authors on Amazon and Goodreads forum threads. I’ve seen authors come unglued and hurl insults at readers. I understand how badly it hurts when someone doesn’t like your book. You know what hurts the most? Realizing there’s a nugget of truth in that unsavory review. As authors, we have to push past the hurt and use those critical reviews to help us grow as writers.
- Retaliatory Reviews: A couple of author friends left critical reviews for a book which shall remain unnamed. In retaliation, the author of the unnamed book left one-star Goodreads ratings on the authors’ books. How do I know this was a retaliatory move and not a legitimate rating? Well, one of the books hasn’t been released. The author set up the book on Goodreads to prepare for the pending release, so there’s no way the angry-author could have read the book. It was a revenge-rating. That rating might have made the angry-author feel better, but it won’t make her book any better. As an author, what’s the best use of your time: Stalking and retaliating against other authors, or working to improve your craft?
Fortunately, most of the authors I’ve met either online or in person are fantastic, honest, generous, talented, stupendous people. Despite all the shenanigans from people wearing (or stealing) author hats, I’m still proud to call myself an author. I won’t let the plagiarists, the tantrum-throwers, or the vindictive reviewers ruin the world of indie publishing for the rest of us. I’m going to stand up for what’s right, stand by my fellow hard-working authors, and report suspected plagiarism to Amazon. I’m going to handle unfavorable reviews with as much grace as I can muster. And, I’m going to continue to hold indie authors to high standards, reviewing books as they deserve to be reviewed and expecting indie authors to publish high-quality, well-edited books. I’m going to say no to shenanigans!