After 18 years of buying and publishing articles from writers, I’ve learned a few things. I regularly publish collections of “World’s Worst Query Letters.” I even published a collection of “Query Letters That Worked!”
Not often does a scammer try to bamboozle me but it does happen on occasion. Luckily, after so many years, I can usually easily spot the scum.
This week, a woman (allegedly named Felicia) emailed an article to me. No query letter. No introduction. No nothing. Just an email with the body of an article in it. It didn’t have the writer’s name under the title and it didn’t have the writer’s bio underneath. The formatting was so poor that it was quite obviously copied/pasted from elsewhere.
Of course, I was suspicious. So, I pulled two sentences at random out of the article, googled them, and found the article in its entirety on a blog. It was written by a well-known writer in the industry. A guy. And, his name is not Felicia.
Since the scammer hadn’t stated why she sent the article, I did what every good researcher does. I engaged the scammer, knowing she would do one of five things. She would either ignore me, get defensive and angry, offer up a confession, play dumb, or continue to pursue the scam. Felicia did not disappoint!
Here’s how it went:
My first email after she sent the article: So, you committed copyright infringement??
Felicia: No, I have gained the permission.
Me: You obtained permission from Brian (last name removed) to sell his article to us under your name??
Felicia: yes, I have.
Me: Please forward a copy of the correspondence you exchanged with Brian showing that he gave you permission to re-sell his article under your own name.
My next course of action was to, of course, contact Brian. I did and he responded:
Thanks for checking with me. No, this person does not have my permission to use my article. I also don’t know who this person is.
Unfortunately, many new online and even print publishers don’t look for the warnings signs associated with stolen content. If you are buying content to publish online, and if you want to keep yourself out of court, and avoid steep copyright infringement penalties, Google a few sentences from each article. That’ll usually tell you if the piece was pulled from elsewhere.
And, never be afraid to ask scammers tough questions. Maybe you can scare them straight. Hopefully, “Felicia” will crawl back under the smelly stone from which she emerged. I still haven’t heard back from her. And, I don’t expect I ever will.
More So-Called “Writers” Committing Copyright Infringement
Putting a Copyright Infringer Out of Business
WritersWeekly Invoices Competitor $38,250 for Copyright Infringement
In the U.K., copyright infringement can lead to a lengthy prison sentence
Can Your Publisher Get YOU Sued For Copyright Infringement? Yep!!
Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.
About The Author
Angela Hoy is the publisher of WritersWeekly.com, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of BookLocker.com (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), PubPreppers.com (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).
Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises.
WritersWeekly.com - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday.
BookLocker.com - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."
Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors.
PubPreppers.com - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!
Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.
Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)
See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.
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Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE
It’s counter-productive to pretend to write stuff online, as reaching out to the original author and linking to them can actually improve search engine rankings!
There is a free programme online caller http://www.paperrater.com that will let you c/p a good piece of writing to discover whether plagiarism is involved. I don’t know whether it will locate a plagiarised source or not because when using it to check other parts of my writing I always get 100% for ‘originality.’
I’ve been tempted sometimes to do that with any of my work to see if someone is using it.
I used to edit a local online news site and so many times people would just copy and paste stories in their entirety. I spoke to one blogger to tell her she can link to a story and feature a couple of sentences but not the whole story AND she had to give proper credit to our publication. She continued to do it until someone else also spoke up. The nerve of some people!
So sad. Thanks Angela. It’s hard enough as it is, but I believe good, honest hard work always wins in the end. Just the other day somebody asked me to proofread the translation of a book that had been translated into Dutch. This writer had actually paid good money for the whole thing, trusting this person.
But, it was so bad. Worse than it just being bad, the whole, entire thing had been translated by Google.
I am so saddened to see how people try to cut corners and don’t think anything of hurting other well-meaning people. Articles like yours need to be written.