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Ebook Publishing > The Rotten Side of Self Publishing - A New Article in 'The Guradian'

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message 1: by S.U. (new)

S.U. Ramesh | 19 comments Has anyone read this new Guardian article? It's called "Plagiarism, 'book-stuffing', clickfarms...the rotten side of self-publishing".

More than angry, I feel disheartened. Up until today, I had never even heard of book-stuffing and clickfarming. What are your thoughts on this? Do you think genuine authors stand a chance, when the system is being so blatantly gamed?


message 2: by Genevieve (new)

Genevieve Montcombroux | 66 comments I read the article too. There's no honesty left. I don't know what a Nora Roberts can do for other authors. She can afford to take plagiarists to court - we can't. Plus the fact that we have no real way of knowing if someone has plagiarized our work unless a reader reads both works in a short period of time and is smart enough to recognize the theft..

I have had three romances "stolen" (readers told me). The thief rewrote the stories with different names and locations, but did not use my words. My lawyer said there was nothing I could do. Only your words are protected.

I'm no longer writing romance as this is the genre that is the most stolen and plagiarized. And I subscribed to Blasty since I discovered my books were being pirated. Blasty enforces the DRM. I'm writing a series I had wanted to write for a very long time, set in WWII, no romance per se.


message 3: by Tomas, Wandering dreamer (last edited Mar 29, 2019 12:48AM) (new)

Tomas Grizzly | 659 comments Mod
Based on what I was reading over the past months, romance (I am not sure which exact subcategory) is the most affected. The main factor is the popularity of a genre. Another factor might be seeing how well is some cliché working - by what I've been reading, most of the 'stuffed' books follow the very same pattern from the base story to cover style.

As for DRM... DRM is useless in stopping piracy. More often than not, it'll hurt the paying reader more than a pirate. E-books are pretty much hypertext (not sure if HTML, XML, or what exactly) files in a wrap (the actual ebook file) and the DRM is nothing else than a few lines of code that check whether or not the account purchased the specific book. As David Gaughran said: "any hacker worth his salt can crack DRM in five seconds" because all it takes is to get into the book file and remove that code.

About possible solutions: I think the only way would be to completely change how Kindle Unlimited works. At this point, the money from KU reads is what drives these cheaters, not actual sales. Amazon made a few ban waves but these are not really efficient if the cheaters just make more accounts - more so if they buy false IPs or use false names.

And finally, about the chances of genuine writers: they are always small in very popular genres where the competition is the fiercest - and where the cheaters are because the popular genres give the best theoretical chance for profit, should you make it to the top (or cheat to the top, in their case).

(edited for typos)


message 4: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1101 comments It's part of a bigger problem, how to manage security on the internet. If crooks can influence a U.S. election, they can certainly scam other systems. Sad.

If you search SIA for 'click farms' you'll find more posts.


message 5: by J.N. (new)

J.N. Bedout (jndebedout) | 115 comments Are they organic?


message 6: by M.L. (new)

M.L. | 1101 comments Almost forgot!

In the article, one of the 'accused' blamed their ghost writer. Kind of funny. But somewhere in there fiverr and ghost writers were mentioned. I searched and it came back with over 300 results, people offering to ghost write. Writer beware!


message 7: by S.U. (new)

S.U. Ramesh | 19 comments All you can really do, I suppose, is put your head down and keep writing, and hope for the best.


message 8: by B.A. (new)

B.A. A. Mealer | 811 comments This theft of books has been going one for hundreds of years, but is more prevalent with the increase in books out there. Then there is the new ruling that says if you don't have an actual copyright, you don't have but a few rights which almost forces you to get a copyright if you become popular to protect your work. As to ghostwriters, there are a lot of wonderful ones out there who are totally honest but a few bad apples destroy the rest. (I ghost write on occasion for special cases.) The issue is proving it's your work and they stole it. Good luck on that if they rewrite it with different names and places but similar events. That is the problem of the formula books which follow a pattern which is easily replicated and is popular. It's all part of the selling and being at the top of the game. (Think Gucci, Calvin Klein, Jimmy Choo, etc and all the knockoffs of their products.) Where there is money to be made, there will always be dishonest people doing what they can to ride the wave.


message 9: by Bruno (new)

Bruno Stella (brunostella) | 49 comments I've heard of people churning out books like sausages. They get a bunch of scenes from different books, hire a ghost writer to string it together like some sort of Frankenstein, slap a Fiverr cover on it and pad the launch with fake reviews. By the time enough people have read the garbage and panned it with 1 stars, that 'writer' has made enough money off the book to afford to abandon it. That's part of the reason why Amazon has instituted the $50 rule for leaving reviews. It's much harder to have 200 fake 5 star reviews when its costing you 10000 dollars. I hope that puts an end to this sort of thing.


message 10: by Anna (last edited Apr 02, 2019 10:50PM) (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 528 comments Oh groan. I've read the whole of the article, thanks S.U., and right at the end Nora Roberts vows to take on the scammers and plagiarists. Bless her. Thank goodness there are people who can take the time and have the money to do this.

Don't laugh, but I worry about sending in a typescript to traditional publishers in case they like the idea or the theme, and get someone else to write it because my writing or plot shape is not to their liking! So I don't send anything in to trads and that saves a lot of time. I have good reason for feeling like that.


message 11: by Shanna (new)

Shanna Swenson (shannaswen) | 32 comments S.U. wrote: "Has anyone read this new Guardian article? It's called "Plagiarism, 'book-stuffing', clickfarms...the rotten side of self-publishing".

More than angry, I feel disheartened. Up until today, I had ..."


I read it too and it's so very upsetting that this kind of thing goes on... It's a greedy world we live it.


message 12: by W. (new)

W. Boutwell | 157 comments If crooks can influence a U.S. election,

Can they? Enquiring minds wanted to know and found out they didn't.



message 13: by W.L. (new)

W.L. Wright | 5 comments I just became an indie author 3 months ago and despite the challenges, including the criminal element part discussed in this thread, I am still at it and my readership is growing leaps and bounds every month as long as I stay at it, writing the next novel, writing short stories, all the social media and boards, blogs and websites = good thing I really like to write. lol


message 14: by Prattle On, (new)

Prattle On, Boyo (prattleonboyo) | 3 comments Funny but as to DRM, a well established self-published Canadian writer named Doctorow doesn't use DRM and his books are entirely free. If you want to donate something (and plenty of readers do) then you are free to do so.

DRM only publishes the paying customers. It doesn't stop pirates and never will.


message 15: by Amelia (new)

Amelia Harding (AmeliaHarding) | 1 comments This has always been an issue at the back of my mind. It's easy to worry about putting your stuff out there when there's a possibility someone can up and steal the book you spent countless hours on and poured your energy into. Then, they get to profit off of it by just changing the names. It is awful but like most things you just have to decide whether it's worth the risk. I hope one day something can be done about it but I'm doubtful.


message 16: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 278 comments Mod
An interesting article for sure. Thanks for sharing S.U. :)

I've never found much use for DRM, nor do I spend time worrying about the pirates stealing my work. First off, as pointed out here, DRM is worse than useless at preventing theft. All it prevents is the honest sharing of books among readers. Books have always been shared. With printed books, if you enjoy reading it, you pass it along to friends and family with the recommendation "You have to read this!" This behaviour doesn't hurt authors (even though you could argue sales are lost), it helps them. Why should digital ebooks be any different?

And as for the pirates themselves, a successful author once said (apologize, I forget their name) not to worry about them. They are not your audience. The type of person who steals an ebook is not the type of person who will pay money for it. So, you've lost nothing, but may gain visibility.

Best way I can see to look at it :)


message 17: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments That's a good way to look at it. It disappoints me to see people wasting time worrying about "lost sales" and inflicting DRM on their paying customers. Write good books, treat your readers well and take the "theft" as a compliment.


message 18: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 278 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "That's a good way to look at it. It disappoints me to see people wasting time worrying about "lost sales" and inflicting DRM on their paying customers. Write good books, treat your readers well and..."

Absolutely Jim! While I'm a staunch advocate of protecting creator's rights, for me, sharing books is the way things have always been. There is nothing wrong with sharing something you love.


message 19: by Jim (new)

Jim Bowering (arjaybe) | 86 comments Eldon wrote: "Absolutely Jim! While I'm a staunch advocate of protecting creator's rights, for me, sharing books is the way things have always been. There is nothing wrong with sharing something you love."

I would love to do a search one day and find my books being torrented all over the place.


message 20: by Peter (new)

Peter Martuneac | 97 comments Oof, I just read that article. I'm not so much bothered by the lost sales as I am that they're drowning out genuine, budding authors with all the noise of cheap, cookie-cutter/plagiarized work.


message 21: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 278 comments Mod
Peter wrote: "Oof, I just read that article. I'm not so much bothered by the lost sales as I am that they're drowning out genuine, budding authors with all the noise of cheap, cookie-cutter/plagiarized work."

For sure the rise in plagiarism is a growing concern within the industry :(


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