While I’ve been contemplating looking into self-pub, I’ve come across a couple articles on plagiarism in the last week. I find it strange, unnerving, and sad. It’s almost as bad as coming across all these King in Yellow posts that keep popping up here and there (which is unnerving as hell. might not be to most people, but I’m paranoid despite knowing and understanding algorithms). Maybe it’s because I follow writers, and creators, on both twitter and tumblr.
I just don’t get it. I got this article via Scalzi’s twitter and then this article came up on something, I really don’t remember where it popped up (maybe facebook). But, they’re the two main ones that made me go what the fuck people.
I think what it is is that maybe I just don’t get it. I don’t get why people would do this. Is it greed? Is it to preen your feathers of a “job well done”? Why would you take someone else’s work and change a handful of words or change the gender of the characters and then play it off as if it’s your own? Is it because the person never really grew out of that “I’m a little shit” smugness of a five year old?
Honestly, the most I’ve stolen is a title and that was recently. I did it as a little writing challenge and stole a title from Neil Gaiman (it’s “He Was”) and I’ll be straight up honest with that. I found his title and idea absolutely fascinating, but I also went in another direction. I was listening to one of his interviews/talks on youtube and he read it. I thought it was really neat and a few short months later got to thinking about the title and idea and thought about the challenge of 100 words or less. I doubt I share it because it’s…well, most people would think it’s pretty dark but those who know me will just probably just shrug and tell me what they think.
Is it a money thing that causes these people to want to steal someone else’s work? Sadly I hear more about artwork being stolen (though not as much as I used to since I’m not active on any art-sharing sites any longer) than anything, and it really boggles the mind.
Maybe I just can’t grasp the concept of greed like normal people. My idea of greed is hoarding the plate of fries or saying I want All The Books! So I really don’t get why people do this. Does it cause some sort of self-inflated faux satisfaction of a job well done or something?
The second article I shared mentions that one of the people did it to, possibly, keep their rankings up on Amazon. What the hell. In a way that’s twisted and in another way that’s sad. It’s almost like watching high school drama all over again–people vying for the top spot and them resorting to stupid shit.
Maybe instead of stealing other peoples work you could, I don’t know, market yourself. Share it on social media, share it with friends, get your fans to share it with other people. Post it to places that have items that are like yours. Grow a fanbase.
Hell, Digger and The NoSleep Podcast wouldn’t be where they are today if it weren’t for the creators talking with people, talking with their fans. David Cummings, producer of NoSleep, is always talking to people on twitter. Ursula Vernon gets packages of food to try on KUEC from fans because she’s always been open about things. I’ve gotten people interested in both peoples work because I talk and share it.
So I really don’t get why people feel the need to do this. “Up your rankings” on Amazon is kind of bullshit in my opinion. It makes me think that the author is either writing the same thing over and over, is writing YA stuff like R L Stine (who does like three books a year or something), or is writing pulp for pulps sake.
While I love the idea of more people writing and more people showing off their work, isn’t releasing 5, 10, 20 books a year oversaturating the market?
I know most people aren’t like Jamie and myself, who go through pages and pages of books on Amazon and other websites just to look around and see what’s nifty. I’m fairly sure most people scroll through two or three pages before going on to something else or they don’t go through pages of books that have authors like the ones they enjoy.
But maybe the whole idea is weird to be me because I find plagiarism to be bad mojo. You take someone else’s stuff and you’re setting yourself up for something bad to come to you. Sure, it might be a stubbed toe or something small like that. But it could also be something like getting sued for every penny you have. And I really don’t get why people are so willing to risk that.
Reading a story and taking the idea or concept and going in a different direction is great. If we didn’t do that, we wouldn’t have Carmilla or Nosferatu. We wouldn’t have comics that were inspired by Calvin and Hobbes. But, being a dick and stealing other peoples work so you can preen your feathers, that’s just fucked up.