Illegally downloading books is theft. Plagiarism is emotional assault
I know my books are being illegally downloaded by trolls stealing my income. That is theft, plain and simple.
But when a thief makes a few minor changes and publishes it under the thief’s own name, for the thief’s profit, it is far more than theft, it is plagiarism.
A level of plagiarism so extensive as to be called emotional assault.
An attack on the author who put her heart and soul into creating characters that will come alive for her readers, and on the readers as well.
Romance books are about life. Emotions. Plots that draw her readers in to find joy, sadness, or to experience on a page they cannot believe could happened to them.
When a reader sees how a heroine could find happiness in spite of it all, sometimes that reader believes it might be possible for them, as well.
This is the magic of romance.
Everything an artist experiences, from memories so far distant she’s not even aware they exist, to events that happened today, becomes part of the well she draws on to create.
Though they are not always pleasant, every event enriches an artist.
It is knowing the depths of despair, as well as the joys of passion and love, that help an author craft a deeper, more vibrant story.
One such event happened yesterday. I discovered an author friend, a caring, loving woman who has dozens of books published, had one of her books copied, a few changes made, and was then published by another author.
When words are stolen there is more than a loss of income at stake.
We romance authors write about life. About people finding the courage to trust again and, though never easy, to find a Happily Ever After.
Stealing our words is a personal attack. It is the theft of what we have created from nothing but our minds, our hearts, and our souls.
My characters are alive to me. I created them from deep inside myself and, villain or hero, every one has a part of me in them.
I worked on Montana ranches to learn the reality of that life. I walked the very stones of Dunstaffnage Castle, built in the early 1200s by the MacDougalls, to write about the sixteenth century fictional MacDougals.
From that research, and the entire whole of my past and present, I brought people into existence.
Beth Elliott, who arrived in Tanner’s Ford on the first Bride Train and died in 1949 after a wild night of dancing during her 100th birthday party. Beth is such a strong character that she’s returned as a spirit to help her descendants find love.
Beth is alive inside me. So are all the others I’ve created.
Having someone else claim Beth, Tom White, and Katie and her wild grandmother Hildy as their own, feels like coming home to discover my front door smashed.
Finding my bedroom strewn with clothing. Knowing someone ran their fingers through fabric that has touched my most intimate parts.
Yes, clothing can be washed. Doors can be repaired. But that feeling of defilement will linger. One gets over such things in time, but it has an effect. It becomes another event on which to draw to create deeper characters.
Unfortunately, the author is not the only one devastated. So are readers.
Romance readers fall into books they love. They live the stories with your characters, page by page. They have ‘book hangovers’ when they finish a good one, and demand more.If they follow your work they learn about you through your books, and meet you at conferences.
A friend I’ve not yet met except over Facebook, I’ll call her Kay, innocently read the work this author falsely said was her own, and enthusiastically suggested other readers might wish to buy it.
Kay, as with many readers, has health issues and spends a lot of time at home. She puts her own heart and soul, and many hours, into helping readers find good authors, and authors find readers.
When Kay discovered a book she had loudly proclaimed as magnificent had been stolen from another author, she was devastated.
She believed she had, though unwittingly, betrayed the true author.
Her enthusiasm and joy in the writing had, by encouraging others to read the stolen book, contributed to the thief’s income.
Kay’s belief in herself, in her joy of suggesting and reviewing wonderful books, has been attacked. If she didn’t live thousands of miles away I would be hugging her, telling her not to let a despicable attack by a vile person make her think badly of herself.
Kay is trying to come to terms with her trust in authors being smashed to pieces.
Authors are scrambling to find out if their work was also stolen.
The plagiarizing author has pulled ten books from her self-published site. I can only assume these books were the ones she’d stolen. The others are still available on Amazon.
And all of us are a little wiser and a little sadder.
What can we do? Find a tiny ray of sunshine in the clouds and smile up at it.
Pick up a romance book and dive into it for a few hours knowing that, eventually, there will be a Happily Ever After.