There are things I can’t talk about at this point that are going on behind the scenes. Legal stuff is legal stuff.
But there’s a lot of chatter out there about my blogs, my information, my opinions. Those I can talk about.
It’s theft of intellectual property. Full stop. It cannot be excused or justified. Another writer recently (and has done so before) claimed that I dragged Dailey through the muck, that copying happens ALL THE TIME, especially to best-sellers, and most writers affected by it handle it privately and professionally. Mean Girl Nora only went public (despite the fact Daily went public first) to destroy poor Janet.
Bullshit. Every word of that is bullshit. Plus shameful.
I apologize to no one for standing up for my work, or for standing up for any writer whose work is stolen. Any writer who thinks plagiarism is no big deal earns my disgust.
Since this has generated a whole bunch of chatter, let me try to be really clear.
My opinion–which I’m entitled to hold, entitled to state:
The profession of ghostwriting is absolutely legitimate. Talented and professional ghosts are paid good money to write memoirs, auto-bios and so forth. They work with the client, interview the client and others. They put in the time, do the job, and are very often credited.
Other avenues are work-for-hire, where GW assume a single pen name (I use Caroline Keene’s Nancy Drew simply because it’s so well known) to write books in a series.
There are GW who act, basically to my mind, as editors or book doctors, helping smooth out or bring together a book–someone else has written–where the client needs some help. I personally think they should be credited, but that’s up to the client/GW and their particular partnership.
OTOH, there are ghosts–and this appears to be more common in the self-pubbed area, but may, in fact, be more common in traditional pub than I know–who take a fee–often just a couple hundred bucks–to write a book for someone who just wants to put their name on it. The client’s not actually a writer. The client wants to be published, or much worse, just wants to create a business where money is generated.
In far too many cases these clients hire many ghosts cheaply to create a lot of content so they can publish them quickly on-line, generate that income.
I think this is deplorable. So I’m told, but these GW are just trying to make a living. So is pretty much everyone in the world. This practice is a cheat for everyone but the client who punches up his/her numbers and makes a killing.
It’s absolutely true the GW may, in fact, be unaware. My take is if the GW wants to be a professional, do you due diligence.
But what, I hear, about the person who has this great idea, but doesn’t know how to write it and wants to get published? What’s wrong with that?
What’s wrong with that? Learning to articulate an idea into a story IS writing. It takes time and effort to learn how, to learn to write well. The name on that book is a lie because the client isn’t a writer, but pretends to be. And this practice dilutes the craft, the art, the science, the WORK of writing a story.
I’m routinely contacted by someone with–they say–a great idea who hopes I’ll write it for them. Many offer to split the bonanza of royalties it’ll earn. I believe the vast majority who ask me this ask with a pure heart because they honestly don’t know how it works.
There are those who want to publish, and fast, so send what they’ve cobbled together to a ghost who in many cases has to rewrite the mess. The person in a hurry here learns nothing by not taking the time, making the effort to hone her craft.
A lot of people seem to think I was birthed a best-seller right out of the writing womb. Contrary to that, I had a drawer full of rejections. I kept at it because I wanted it. I learned, I improved. And when I finally sold, I also had a drawer full (my agent called it my Magic Drawer) of rejected manuscripts I could take out, fix, edit, improve. So I sold a lot of books very quickly in the first couple years.
Someone accused me of having ‘several’ pen names, which they said was the same as all this. No, I write as Roberts, and as Robb for the In Death series. But when I sold Born In Fire (I think) to England for the first time, the publisher insisted my readership would be confused, insisted I take a pen name. I argued, but had no clout. For this single book, in GB, I took the name Sarah Hardesty. And when I was proved right, the Brit publisher killed the pen name, and published all future editions of the book under mine.
In, I think it was, 1981 (maybe ’82) my agent got an offer from a kind of tabloid (in structure, not content) publication for my first (and justifiably unsold ms.). I had a great fondness for that story because it was the first I’d ever written. I took the name Jill March for that sale. Once, then killed.
And in both cases, my name was on the copyright, not the a/k/a.
CHEAP AND FREE
I absolutely understand the idea of using a book, often the first in a series, or as a special, as a loss leader. Something to get exposure, to generate future sales. My publisher routinely puts one of my books on special for a day on-line.
My problems here are with, first, the scammers that buy books or book stuff, or whatever they do to put out a 99 cent book every week, or more under different names. They flood the marketplace so the legitimate indie reader can’t really compete.
I have a problem with the claims by some they they can absolutely write a book a week. Boy, do I call bullshit. First, I’d have to ask for a word count. Back in my Silhouette days when I wrote 55k Romance, I could write them fairly quickly, but a book a week? Nope.
A book a week, week after week? Did you write it, polish it, send it to a professional editor, and is it over 100 pages?
With this proliferation, many indie writers have to devalue their work, work they did take the time to write, polish, have edited to have any chance of visibility.
I object to that, for them, and for the reader.
On the reader–I thought I made it clear, but I’ll try again. Everybody likes a bargain. Everybody should be able to snag a free or cheap book. But. When that’s all you buy, and particularly when you demand it, it’s gets to be a problem. When you contact a writer pushing for more, cheap, cheaper, free. It’s a problem.
I read a comment from one indie writer who said she’d just published her new book, and a reader contacted her–like that day!–wanting to know when she was going to make it free.
This is a problem.
The reader’s on a budget, she’s voracious, this is all she can afford. Not her fault, don’t attack the reader from your big-ass imaginary mansion while you sit on your mountains of money.
Again, one-time single mother of two on a budget here. Voracious reader. And she–and I–say first: Library. I’m a big lover of the library. And I used it a lot back in the day, even though it was a thirty minute drive away. The writer gets paid for the book you check out. Libraries offer all kinds of services, and you can borrow an e-book on line without leaving your home. They have inter-library loans, or will often buy a book (paper or e) you request.
I’d take my boys with me, and all of us would go home with a stack of books.
I did learn that in many other countries, this isn’t nearly as easy. I think that’s a serious shame–I mean it. I don’t know what can be done to fix or improve that. But knowing that now, I hereby remove the reader–anywhere–who has no access to these services from this group.
I have a charitable foundation that supports literacy (and libraries). We might be able to look into it. Access to books, in any form, is a human right. Or damn well should be.
Used book stores, flea markets, yard sales, on-line trading, library sales. I’m sure I’ve left some avenues out. Someone bought this book, at some point, so the writer got paid. I also haunted used book stores back in the day, though yeah, a half hour away. I also before the internet, haunted those used book stores and the library for research books. They were a godsend. (And I always paid the library fine because I always brought them back late.)
I want to stress–again–I’m talking about the reader who demands, feels entitled to free or dirt cheap. Who hounds the writer for his/her wants. I’m not talking about the reader who sees a bargain, likes the cover, the blurb, has read that author before happily, or thinks hey, I’m going to give this new-to-me writer a try, and clicks Buy.
SELLING PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED BOOKS TO A BIDDER,
PUBLISHING UNDER A NEW NAME AS NEW WORK.
This is such a horrendous practice. Closed sites where books that have dried up their income stream sold–sometimes books in bundles, like 5 Historical Romances, 75k words, $1,000. Most usually I’d guess, these books were written by a ghost (who may be totally blameless), generated income through other nefarious practices like clickfarms, then sold to the next person. That person tosses them up, new cover, new name, as new work. It can and is done over and over again.
Since I wrote about that in detail on another blog, I won’t repeat myself. Except to say, it’s in every way wrong. Like plagiarism, I believe there is no excuse, no justification. It cheats everyone.
CLICK FARMS, BOOK STUFFING, BUYING REVIEWS
All of it wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
So is posting a nasty review on a competitor’s site to try to tank their sales. So is treating books like products, which is what the scammers do. It’s just business.
Writing is, most definitely a business–and every writer should treat it professionally. It’s a job–and I’ve treated it like a job throughout my career. The best job in the universe of jobs, imo. But it’s not just a job, just a business.
The practices I’ve come out, strongly against, have no respect for the craft, the art, the creator or the reader. It’s all just a way to make a bunch of money fast.
To any who claim I can’t and don’t understand what the new or newish writer goes through in today’s market? You’re wrong. If I didn’t understand, didn’t care, I wouldn’t take this on.
I can and will, and am, handling the plagiarism that targeted me and some 30 other writers. This is more, and I’m spending this time, making this effort because it matters.
To the absolute jerks who claim if the indie market goes down I’d benefit. Kiss My Ass.
All of the above is my opinion. YMMV. But I’ve a right to hold and speak that opinion.
I value and respect every writer who labors over their stories. I feel for every writer who finds themselves crushed and demoralized by the scams in the marketplace. I value and respect every reader who buys, who borrows, trades, lends books. I am, and always will be, grateful for the work libraries and librarians do, for all of us.
And I hold in contempt those who use and abuse what I value and respect.
I’m Nora Roberts, and I write my own books.