I remember the days of working in publishing before Twitter was a thing. I can remember them, but I do not long for them like I do so many other things from my past. In addition to all of the cool readers, authors, other publishers, librarians, and assorted others I have a chance to interact with on a daily basis, I also get to see scandals break in real time.
The fascinating drama from this week involves alleged plagiarist “Elizabeth Nelson” who allegedly stole parts of her bio from real people, has eerily similar book descriptions to books already published by other authors, and, in the most awesome kicker, “her” “author” photo is...not even joking...also used in an ad for Revlon hair extensions.
I first saw the story on Twitter from Andrew Shaffer (@andrewtshaffer) who also Tweets under the name @evilwylie. The story was picked up by Business Insider where you can see the awesome hair extension/author pic.
Shaffer and others were able to compile a significant list of coincidences between the efforts of “Elizabeth” and those who came before her. So much so that it’s impossible not to believe that shenanigans are afoot.
Oh, and then there were other pseudonyms for “Elizabeth,” other stolen books in other genres and it appears as though there is one giant neon arrow pointing back at one person who hired people to ghostwrite novels for his/her business, and was unaware (or uncaring) that the books were plagiarized.
The way that story is unfolding (my source being the @evilwylie timeline) is fascinating for a couple of reasons.
(1) Who the hell does that?
(2) How the hell does it end up for sale on legitimate vendor websites? Are these stolen books the equivalent of bootleg Coach bags being sold to tourists from the Midwest on the family trip to Manhattan?
(3) Why do variations of this keep happening but the newsworthiness of it diminishes? We must continue to shine light onto the cockroaches of the literary world, lest they continue to muddy the market further. This isn’t about self-pub vs. traditional or any of those buzzwords. This is about people who are generally decent vs. shitty scam artists. I’m not one for the fainting couch and hyperbole, but seriously, you can’t let people keep doing this. It hurts us all.
I'm grateful to Mr. Shaffer for his breaking of the story and his continued updates, but why is it falling to him to do this? What sort of measures could be put in place by vendors so we never see this? Is it a case where robots are inferior to their human overlords?
It reminds me of a speech I once gave. I don’t have time to go through the whole thing right here, but let me give you the gist of it.
Four score and seven years ago, our forefathers...
Ben LeRoy talks about publishing and other stuff on his website.