I didn’t want to get involved in the next in a depressingly long list of plagiarism scandals, but once again, I just feel the need to make my position known.
I won’t use the name of the author in question, but she’s not the author who admitted stealing from a well-known name in romance, and she’s not the teenaged author who got mega bucks for a book that was lifted from the pages of someone else’s book, and she’s not the e-book author accused of stealing from the fan-fiction author.
This is the author accused of lifting passages of from text books and reference books that may in some cases have expired copyrights.
I’m not going to opine whether I think she’s guilty or merely misguided, or whether her actions are truly criminal or merely unfortunately stupid. I won’t take a stand on RWA’s hedging of an opinion, and I won’t express a desire to see her [or anyone] drawn and quartered.
All I’ll do is express my disappointment that in a business where new authors have to lie awake at night worrying that they didn’t use the correct size of rubber band to secure their snail mail submission to an agent, or worry that their manuscript will be rejected out of hand because they used Times New Roman 11pt instead of Courier 12*, and in a business where newbies are spanked for inappropriate POV shifts or vilified for the over use of the word ‘was’ – a well-known and prolific author can engage in ‘questionable’ practices and continue to publish.
The business seems so forgiving of those who are already making money and so cutthroat to those who haven’t yet proven themselves.
It’s a shame. And it’s a kick in the teeth once again to think that someone who has, if not broken the rules, at least bent them irreparably, might continue to sell their work, while it’s often a Herculean effort for a new writer just to get an agent or editor to afford their work an honest 15-minutes of time.
Maybe it’s time the industry got an overhaul, but how can we possibly effect change when even our leadership won’t take a stand on the issues?
* Note: Not saying all agents and editors reject manuscripts based on these criteria, but just that new authors do worry about these things.