Here’s an interesting thing about the cutthroat world of self-publishing, esp. in nonfiction: You get a lot of books that are created by … well, fake people.
Back in 2017, when I was getting started as a self-publisher, I was just kind of feeling my way but loving the work. I published a little book about roses called Rose to the Occasion, which I really enjoyed writing. When I was city horticulturist for the St. Joseph Parks and Rec Department, I had a public rose garden with 300 roses that I picked out and took care of, pretty much on my own. A lot of the roses were infected with rose rosette disease, which was a pretty new disease for roses, so I had to quickly become an expert on the disease and the best ways to control it. And there were other challenges, but I loved those roses. So I wrote the book and released it in January 2017.
Later on in the year, I picked up a lot of free gardening books off Amazon to see how other writer set up their front and back matter, and to get some ideas from that.
So I was reading through one book about roses. I realized, “Hey, these are the exact same roses that I talk about in my book, and they’re in the exact same order, too!” They weren’t common roses — stuff like Carefree Beauty, Blanc Double de Coubert, that had grown well for me. I kept reading … and holy crap, I could walk though this book, step by step, and point out what content they wrote directly from my content (and a couple of places where they got it wrong).
Somebody used my book to write theirs. I just felt this cold-water feeling go down my body when I realized that.
I was gobsmacked. I had to go out for a walk after realizing that, and for just about the whole walk I was thinking, “That was mine! I did not work with roses in 95 degree heat with 95% relative humidity, sweating my water out as soon as I drank it, and I didn’t get thorns in my hair and scratches all over my arms from all those dang rose thorns, to have some goofball sit in air-conditioned comfort and swipe 67% of my book!”
One of the people in the author’s group pointed out that “Nancy Ross’s” picture was actually a stock image that could be found on various photo sites. Crazier and crazier!
Wowsers! So apparently this is a thing among slap-happy internet marketers, where they plagiarize content to “create” their own books. This is, unfortunately, pretty common among gardening books, though you’ll see a lot of this stuff in any genre.
How does this work? Well, they write an outline (or, as in this case, simply swipe the outline from another book), send that outline to a ghostwriter overseas who will type up a book for them super-cheap, using the info from that swiped book. Then they package the finished book, release it in ebook, paperback, and audiobook, and market it hither and yon. Boom, they are a garden writer! It’s a hell of a gig.
One of the people in the author’s group said that these guys will post the book as free on the weekends, when there’s less staff, and then after a little time passes, they switch it to paid.
Amazon is kind of hit-and-miss on plagiarized books. There have actually been cases when the plagiarist has accused the original author of stealing the book from them! Talk about cutthroat.
This didn’t happen to me — thank goodness. But I do have a billion computer files — a paper trail — that shows that I did create the book. So there is that.
While I was waiting for Amazon to take down the the plagiarized rose book, I discovered that this author had the plagiarized book in a thousand other locations — Kobo, B&N, Google Play, etc. Grr.
But THEN I found a name in the back of one of these books. “More books by Kathleen Hope.” Well! Who is she? So I looked her up on Amazon and “Kathleen Hope” had authored — or I should say “authored” — FIVE MILLION EROTICA NOVELS. There were bare muscley manly chests everywhere! Holy mackerel, what a business!
(Note: “Kathleen Hope” is still selling erotica left and right, guys, so somebody’s still making bank. That sucks.)
At any rate, after I told Amazon, they took down the rose book very quickly. “Nancy Ross” is still selling books unfortunately, but this particular “person” seems to be delisted, so she won’t show up when you do a search for her. Amazon will do that to plagiarists, at least.
The rose book paperback that they plagiarized is still up on Amazon, though it’s out of stock. My review is still on it! I’ve included it here because I’m just a little bit proud of it.
I’m still selling more rose books than she is. I put that review on every copy of her rose book I could find, even the one on Bok that was all in Swedish or Danish, but I translated the best I could and was able to even put my review up there. I just figured I’d use her platform to advertise my book, why not.
Anyway, that is my cautionary tale. What a world!!
(Additional note: WordPress stuck this post automatically into the “Melinda has a gripe” category. Y’all are good!)
Oh, yeah, buy my rose book. I’m really kind of proud of it, because I crammed all the helpful stuff I could into those pages. You can get it at any of these fine retailers.