Recently a scandal has erupted in the romance world when Courtney Milan discovered that a woman had been plagiarizing her books. What started out as Courtney calling her out quickly erupted into a scandal of epic proportions. People have been investigating this woman’s books and what they found was astonishing. I choose not to name her, but if anyone wants to read about the mess, I recommend the Twitter hashtag #copypastecris.
Through diligent research on both readers and the affected writers so far they have discovered over fifty books and assorted recipe books, Wattpad entries and articles. What’s surprising at this point is that there’s anyone she hasn’t stolen from (only the best).
The good news is that the romance community has come together to blast out the plagiarized titles. Nora Roberts, who was one of the big names stolen from by this woman, has gotten involved. This particular woman has been put on blast, and her website and other social media closed, and it seems unlikely that she will be able to resurface.
The bad news is that this has revealed a small tip of the iceberg in terms of unsavory practices. In addition to blatant plagiarizing, there apparently is a whole subculture of people who recycle books when they stop working for one author. They sell it to another author who changes the names and maybe the pronouns, sticks a new cover on it, and puts the book up as their own.
Honestly, I don’t get it. I want to make money by my writing—of course I do. But I don’t write for the purpose of making a buck, I write because I have to. I write because it quiets my overactive imagination and channels it into something productive, rather than the obsessive behavior I used to indulge in. I write so that the ideas that flow through my head have somewhere to go. The idea of stealing from some of my favorite authors, like Barbara Samuel or Nalini Singh, and trying to pass that work off as my own, just baffles me. That defeats the whole purpose of creating my worlds and finding out what the people do who inhabit them.
I guess that’s the difference between someone out to make a buck and someone who is a writer. As the memes that are going around say: I write my own damned stories. For better or for worse. I look at the stories on my shelf, the ones I created, and feel that sense of accomplishment. People may like them, or they may not, but I know that every single word in those volumes are ones that I completed. That is the best feeling in the world.