Since January there's been coverage of plagiarism on Amazon, with folks self-publishing works in the public domain or copying works by other authors, slapping their own names on them, and selling them.
One issue is that even if Amazon responds and removes the content, the onus is on the author who was plagiarized to seek any damages. From this article at Appazoogle:
Just to give you one more recent example, Elise Bauer, food blogger at Simply Recipes, discovered that her recipes and photos had been stolen and repackaged as an ebook through Amazon’s Kindle store. After complaining, Amazon informed Bauer that they unlisted the book, but if she believed she was entitled to compensation by the guilty parties, it was up to her to take action.
Well, no wonder people are angry. For someone who never submitted her content to Amazon in the first place, why is the onus on her to play avenger?
And apparently, according to the Bauer article, it is pretty easy to bypass the system—you simply have to check a box verifying that you have the rights to use the content. If someone is stealing someone else’s work in the first place, obviously they’re not going to have any problem checking that box, no matter who owns the material.
Today romance author Liz Fielding found that one of her novellas, The Cinderella Valentine, was republished by Kay Manning, only Manning changed the names, location and a few minor details. The odd thing was, Manning listed the story for free.
Later, Manning allegedly stated that she took the short story down herself:
“Kay Manning Feb 24, 2012 06:17 AM
Smashwords responded to NOTHING. I took down the story because of my mistake. I know no one would believe it but it was an honest mistake. I put this story in the wrong folder on my computer and actually thought it was mine that I started a long time ago. If I really wanted to 'steal it' do you honestly think I would have put it up for free? What do I benefit off it?”
That's a new one! It was in the wrong folder on a computer! That's totally one for the ages.
As for Manning's question as to what she could benefit from publishing the story… well, funny you should ask that, Ms. Manning.
Enter Elizabeth Chadwick, whose GoogleFu is unlike any GoogleFu that has googlefued before. Chadwick found Manning's Goodreads listing and from there, the can of whoop-ass, it was mightily cracked.
Chadwick found that A Soldier's Valentine “by” Kay Manning is nearly identical in description to Catherine Mann's An Evening to Remember, only with names and a few details changed.
“Go! Go! Go!”
Captain Shawn “Iceman” Isaacs hurtled out of the military cargo plane, the crew chief's order to jump from the C-17 echoing in his ears along with the roaring of engines. The silent sky swallowed him. Arms and legs splayed, he soared down, down, down toward Fryar Drop Zone, the part of Fort Benning Military Reservation located in Alabama.
Somewhere in the soft fields below Tammy Lowe waited for him.
Of course, she didn't know he was one of the guys parachuting this afternoon. Although regularly a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter pilot, he needed the jump to stay current on his training. But she thought he was still deployed to the Middle East.
He'd enlisted her co-workers' aid to ensure Tammy would come for a Valentine's surprise—even if Valentine's Day was still a week away. Thank goodness for the help of her three pals, because no way would she have showed if she learned Shawn would be landing at her feet.
Catherine Mann's An Evening to Remember:
“Go! Go! Go!”
Captain Vince “Novocain” Novak hurtled out of the military cargo plane, the crew chief’s order to jump from the C-17 echoing in his ears along with the roaring of engines. Then the silent sky swallowed him. Arms and legs splayed, he soared down, down, down toward the landing zone at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida.
A speck of grass in Tampa where McKenzie Rowe waited for him.
Of course she didn’t know he was one of the guys parachuting this afternoon. Although regularly an MH-53 Pave Low helicopter pilot, he was also jump qualified and needed to stay current on his training. But she thought he was still deployed to the Middle East.
He’d enlisted her co-workers’ aid to ensure McKenzie would come for a Valentine’s surprise—even if Valentine’s Day was still a week away. Thank goodness for the help of her three pals, because no way would she have showed if she learned Vince would be landing at her feet.
“And the last bachelor up for bids is…”Luke tuned out the auctioneer’s voice and wondered for the millionth time how he’dgotten roped into this. A bachelor auction was definitely
not his style – even if it was for a good cause.
Tugging at the collar of his starched dress shirt, he shifted uneasily as the auctioneer continued his sales pitch. Should he smile? Pose? Pinned in a corral with an angry bull intent onripping his insides out was just another day at the office. But he just didn’t feel comfortable upon stage with a blinding spotlight shining on him. He hoped he didn’t look as nervous as he felt.The auctioneer drove up the bids with his ongoing commentary – but all Luke could hear was the roar of the crowd as women yelled out numbers and cheered each other. Squinting intothe lights, he tried to make out who was bidding on him, but the dark shapes he could just make out gave little answers.
Then, before he knew it, the gavel sounded.But to who..?
Melanie Lowell. He knew it, somewhere deep in his gut, even before he found her in the crowd. That had been his luck lately. Melanie told him before the auction she’d do whatever it took to get him and a woman like her was used to getting everything she wanted.
And today was no different. The brilliant green victory glance she shot his way confirmed his hunch and sent a thrill down his spine in spite of his best effort to resist it. He looked away and set his jaw. He had to tamp down his annoyance at her success or she’d havehim hog-tied before he knew what hit him.
Yet he felt the corners of his mouth lift in a grin as he followed the other bachelors acrossthe stage. Dressed in sharp black tuxedos, they tromped down the steps to the floor of the arenalike penguins on parade. He was looking forward to being with her again. Melanie was a lot of fun.
“And the last bachelor up for bids is…”
Alex tuned out the auctioneer’s voice and wondered for the millionth time how he’d gotten roped into this. A bachelor auction was definitely not his style — even on Valentine’s Day. But, he reminded himself, this was for a good cause.
Tugging at the collar of his uniform, he shifted uneasily as the auctioneer continued his sales pitch. Should he smile? Pose? He just didn’t feel comfortable up on stage with a blinding spotlight shining on him. He hoped he didn’t look as nervous as he felt.
The auctioneer was driving up the bids — but all Alex could hear was the roar of the crowd as women yelled out numbers and cheered each other on. Squinting into the lights, he tried to make out who was bidding on him, but to no avail.
Then, before he knew it, the gavel sounded. He’d been sold! But to who…?
Taylor Fanning. He knew it, somewhere deep in his gut, before he even looked at her again. That was about his luck lately. Besides, Taylor had plainly told him that she was going to get him and she was famous all over Texas for always getting whatever she went after.
Sure enough, one glance at her confirmed his hunch. She shot him a blazing blue victory glance and a smile that sent a thrill down his spine in spite of his best effort to resist it. He looked away and set his jaw. He had to hold on to his aggravation or she’d have him roped and hog-tied before he knew what hit him.
Yet he felt the corners of his mouth lift in a grin as he followed the other bachelor rodeo cowboys, all dressed in the Valentine’s Day “uniform” — tuxedos — that the auction had required them to wear, across the portable stage toward the steps leading to the floor of the arena. He was looking forward to being with her again. Taylor was a lot of fun.
Kay S. Manning also writes under the name Payton Bradshaw (I'm guessing she likes quarterbacks?) and “published” “An Early Christmas Present” with MuseitUp Publishing. Joanna Bourne found that this story is nearly identical to Julia Kenner's story “Wrapped and Ready” in the Harlequin Anthology Red Hot Holiday. The excerpt on “Payton Bradshaw's” Goodreads page is nearly identical to the Kenner story.
Bourne, who with Chadwick are kicking ass and taking names in the Google department, also found that Kay Manning's real name is listed in this military newspaper article as Kristal Singletary. Singletary also blogs, and, as Bourne reported, plagiarizes, that, too:
By K.H. Singletary on her blog at:
“Your creative process is a series of steps that you repeat every time you need to create. Simple. The trick is to make the steps fluid and flexible enough to allow you the room you need to create well, while still being structured enough to help you through when you’re having a hard time. An effective process should allow for serendipity—happy accidents are responsible for lots of great writing”
Developing a Creative Process by George Shaw. This is at:
“Your creative process is a series of steps that you repeat every time you need to create. Simple. The trick is to make the steps fluid and flexible enough to allow you the room you need to create well, while still being structured enough to help you through when you’re having a hard time. An effective process should allow for serendipity—happy accidents are responsible for lots of great design “
Kristal Singletary is also listed as the treasurer of RWA's Kiss of Death chapter.
One would think folks would learn by now that if you plagiarize, you're going to get caught, especially with the powerful magic of Google cache and Google books for searching phrases. Alas, Manning seems to have been quite blithe about her “publishing career.”
The best part: Liz Fielding posted her original entry at about 1:20 pm.
Today I stand in awe at the power of friendship.
Within hours of blogging that my story had been plagiarised the guilty party has closed her blog to all but the invited, removed her twitter account and all the books she purported to have written have been removed from Smashwords.
Many thanks to everyone who left a comment here, or on twitter or facebook today.
I hope Bourne, Chadwick, Fielding and the others who GoogleFu'd the crap out of Kay Manning and Kristal Singletary are drinking a well-earned frosty beverage tonight. Well played.
ETA 25 February 2012:
Kay Manning left a comment on Dear Author:
FEB 24, 2012 @ 22:31:43
I’ve gone back and forth on how to address this for several hours. A personal blog post would not be seen by enough people. Nor would a response to Ms. Fielding’s blog. When Dear Author posted this blog, I felt it was the answer I’d been looking for. I couldn’t find a more public place than this.
To all the authors, publishers, and editors I stole from, I am sorry. There is no excuse. All distributors have been notified and those I couldn’t take down/remove myself are being removed by the third party as soon as possible.
To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.
To anyone associated with the Kiss of Death Chapter, you can be assured that all funds relating to the chapter are well managed and controlled by a dedicated President and Board. I have not had access to any accounts where wrongdoing could have occurred without their immediate and swift action.
Finally, so there is no misunderstanding. I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.
So she went from “I put the story in the wrong file and thought it was mine” to “I am sorry, I'm a thief, a plagiarist” after Dear Author, SBTB, Twitter and Jo Bourne, Elizabeth Chadwick and many others found a hot pile of examples that it wasn't just one story and it wasn't just something she was offering for free.
I have mixed feelings about that apology. On one hand, that was pretty much a full and complete admission of how badly she's fucked up. But had it come earlier instead of “What do I gain from posting that for free” and “oops wrong folder,” it would have been met with less skepticism and more acceptance. At this point, I have Rhianna stuck in my head (and it is TOO EARLY for that): “Don't tell me you're sorry, cause you're not. You know you're only sorry you got caught.”
This apology, in as big a forum as one could ask for, is like a politician getting caught mismanaging funds or having wild raunchy times with those not his wife. There's apologies for seeing what one did was wrong and stating so, and there's apologies that come after having been caught doing what was wrong, then caught for lying about it, and only then offering the full apology. She published one of “her” books as recently as December 2011.
This is something I think plagiarists are having a hard time understanding: online, with so much text to search and so many sources to compare, you'll get caught. Do the work yourself.
ETA: I received a reply from the Kiss of Death chapter, and it matches the email posted in the comments by Avery Flynn:
Kiss of Death is dedicated to promoting and supporting the mystery/suspense genre with romantic elements through the championship of good writing through our educational and awards programs. As such, I have accepted the resignation of our treasurer, per her request, and in the best interest of the organization.
AJ Brower, President
Kiss of Death