Thursday, August 29, 2013

What Do You Want Me to Work on Next?

I've decided to let my readers overtly influence what I work on for my next First Draft Fridays project over on Wattpad, after I finish A Fistful of Water.

How? I have a five-question survey, all questions optional, which lets you make your opinions known on genre, length, characters, etc.

I also ended up doing JA Konrath's 8-hour challenge: Write a story and have it to market within 8 hours. I ended up doing a crack!fic featuring various characters from the Misty White space opera penname. I had fun writing it, but we'll find out if anyone else will have fun reading it.

It has some spoilers for various stories under that penname, but if you're curious to see what I came up with, it's…

Disorientate-tion on a Weekday Morning

Canni from “Buzz and Bunnies”, Tammy from the Catati stories, and Kintah from the Corps space stories all improbably meet, order Starbucks, and learn things about each other that, perhaps, they’d rather not know. Crack fic.

(A crack!fic of about 4400 words.)

Get it for free on Smashwords with the coupon code ZP85G (expires mid-September).

The fairly repetitive mentions of it being a crack fic are intentional—it's my attempt to keep someone from getting it without knowing what they're getting.

And Know Thy Frienemy is just about ready for release, so I've committed to a release date of September 10th. *gulp*

I've set myself up for an interesting autumn, that's for sure.

Have any opinions or thoughts to share on what I'm up to? Have any projects in progress that you want to share?


Thursday, August 22, 2013

On Discoverability and Its Catch-22

First, if any of my many new followers over on Wattpad are over here, welcome!

Second, if you are here, mind letting me know how you found my story? Was it on the auto-recommend engine, in some other part of the site, on some 3rd party site…?

Asking because I've I was fairly steady at around 20 follows per day… and suddenly skyrocketed to 200 followers in one day and have now been getting a good 500 new followers on Wattpad per day for a solid week. And at least a few hundred readers, if my "read" stats are any indicator. (The story only has 9 "parts" on the site… And I've gotten over 200 new followers since I went to bed last night. O.O)

Now, I'm downright elated that so many people who enjoy my work are finding me. (And, as a reformed presbyterian, I'm thanking God for His Providence.) I'm admittedly a bit boggled by the abruptness and the volume—and I'm unsure how, precisely, they're finding me—but that's fine. I'll probably never know, and there's nothing wrong with that.

I didn't advertise anything. I can't find any linkbait mention of my Wattpad page or any such thing. (And I've checked with backlink search engines.) Therefore, I can only assume that Wattpad's internal referral engine has kicked in.

That in-site recommendation is a form of self-propagating word of mouth. That's the point that most authors want to hit for their websites or novels, whereever their works are located. That's why some authors desperately spam "Buy my novel! Buy my novel!" on social media—or, if they have the funds, buy a bunch of their own books—to kick their books' placement in the rankings so it can get noticed in a way that'll hopefully linger.

It's the Catch-22 of life. You have to be noticed to get noticed.

Just think of those authors, actors, and artists who suddenly get popularized in the media. Usually, those folks have been building their audience for far longer than even the general populace who's just discovered them gives them credit for.

For example, when the Dutch band Within Tempation had their first official release in the US, some folks scoffed that they were Evanescence knock-offs…even though that wasn't the case. Technically, Within Temptation was formed a year after Evanescence…but they were the first to release an album.

Within Temptation also had their first major hit—Mother Earth, released in 2000—a few years before Evanescence released Fallen. Those are, in my opinion the most similar albums between the two bands, so if anyone ripped off anyone, it would've been Evanescence. (But there are enough differences—and each band has enough relatives on its respective continents—that I suspect the sort-of concurrent development was coincidental.)

The sort-of comparable Finnish band Nightwish formed the same year Within Tempation did. They just were faster about getting albums out and getting on national charts before Within Temptation did. (And, as someone who listens to that genre of music, more folks seem to know who Nightwish is than who know who Within Temptation is.)

Each band had to be "discovered" in its respective country before its audience could grow to the point that it reached the other band's territories…which made people in those other countries wrongfully assume that the native band necessarily came first.

Er, I may be just a bit annoyed when people ridicule others using bad information that could easily be corrected with a basic glance at Wikipedia. ^_^

You have to be noticed to get noticed.

The same principle applies if you're seeking a promotion or raise at your job, actually. That means doing something worth getting noticed and, often, drawing attention to what you do. (I suspect that's part of why men tend to get higher pay than women. Men are more likely to say, "Hey, when do I get a raise?" Another reason would be the detail that women often have career interruptions in the form of childbearing and childrearing, meaning their priorities can be on negotiating schedule rather than money—but I'm meandering*.)

*I'm actually not ADD. I just have an ADD mother and ADHD brother, so I've grown up with ADD-style communication being normal and non-ADD-style being…abnormal. You could argue that my mind's actually been trained to jump topics. Speaking of which—pardon me a moment, my cat's giving the "Belly rub?" meow—and since she's asking politely, it's best to reward that. (An tap and a single lick on my arm, plus a "request" tone to the meow. Much preferable over when she gets ticked off at the other cat and will only accept attention from me, because she gets demanding and can bear a grudge for a week. To be fair, the other cat does give her reason to be ticked off.)

Okay. Back on topic…

The thing about discoverability… It can only happen if there's something to be discovered.

On Wattpad, I have a public, clearly announced posting schedule: at least one scene in a first draft, every Friday (although I admittedly missed one when ill). That gives people who like my writing a reason to follow me.

I also have multiple stories available on the site, which gives the readers who like my writing a sufficient taste of it to probably—hopefully—remember me well enough so they'll see my name and think "Ooo! New story!" rather than "Man, I wish I could remember who wrote that book I liked with the purple flame…"

My only non-Aleyi story on Wattpad right now is Thrice Uncharmed, because it was my first "First Draft Fridays" project. But it's been reduced to the blurb and a "What happened to this story?" page, because it's contracted to a small press and currently for sale on Amazon (e-book = $1.99).

Aleyi has always been my "Let's try this free fiction thing…" world. I suspect it isn't a coincidence that it also has the most sales, though my sales are also low enough that the in-site discoverability hasn't fully kicked in, so far as I can tell.

Interestingly, posting on Wattpad seems to have started helping sales after I began posting book #2. (Thanks if you've bought any copies of my work, by the way. And please don't feel bad if you haven't or can't. I intentionally participate in the "complete free fiction" style of marketing because I mostly grew up in the "Can't afford to buy even used books" bracket. That isn't hyperbole.)

But my current situation on Wattpad illustrates something about discoverability: You can't force it.

Oh, you can try to. You might even succeed for a time. But any attempts to game the system won't necessarily work…

And any discoverability you do earn won't necessarily last.

Some authors' response to that is to constantly be in promo mode, in the mode of "They can't buy it if they don't know it exists" and the rule of seven (which are true, but constant marketing isn't necessarily the only or most effective method to do so with the time input).

Some don't fret over it at all and focus on just getting the next book out, in the mode of "If you build it, they will come" (which isn't exactly true, but if you build your covers and blurbs and categories and keywords properly, search engines—vendors' and online—should enable your book to be found, though word of mouth will probably take time to build).

Personally, I dabble with some promo things—technically, the Wattpad thing is one—but I don't fret over it. And I recently had a short story in the KDP Select program for a 3-month stint, the success of which was debatable. (And the continuing influence of which seems to be non-existent, though I do have three reviews on that story…two by folks who obviously don't read the genre, so I have revamping the cover on my eventual to-do list.)

You could argue that I therefore have a foot in both worlds and am therefore shooting myself in both feet—not spending enough time on promo, not spending enough time on writing.

Well, I'm primarily a freelancer, so that's where the majority of my time goes: Taking care of clients. What I do after that depends on what mode I'm left in after taking care of them.

There is a reason I tend to play with cover design in batches. I find it something to do that provides some stimulation without requiring too much concentration. I find it, like sudoku, a pleasant way to unwind and get out of critical-editor mode when I'm having trouble pulling out of it. (Yes, I'm one of those people.)

Actually, I tend to do everything in batches. Read a novel—I'll read two or three in a day, or one every night for a few days, then none for a few. Experiment in the kitchen—I'll test three different recipes, make plans to improve them, then not get around to trying again for a few weeks. Write a story—I might write 3k words on a short story in my spare time on a day, then forget* about it for months. (*Okay, so I've not forgotten about that one yet, but considering it's a Wool fanfic and I need to read the rest of the series to finalize it, I probably will by the time I get to doing that.)

That's actually one reason I started the "First Draft Fridays" thing over on Wattpad. It forces me to actually work on a particular story until it's done—something I have far too little practice doing, because I was completely undisciplined for the first years I spent writing, starting maybe twenty stories for every one I finished. I'm still fighting the aftereffects of that bad habit.

But another reason I run those First Draft Fridays is discoverability. It gives me an update schedule for putting consistent content up there, in a form that encourages reader input. It's effectively a method of promotion that suits both Wattpad and me, intended to take advantage of the visibility boost I gained from being featured by the staff over there.

And, judging from my recent uptick in traffic on that site, it seems to be working—for Wattpad.

Will it last? Maybe, maybe not.

Will it lead to discoverability on other sites? Maybe, maybe not.

Even when time reveals the answer for my own work, that'll still be too small a sample size to judge if my experiences are consistent with or contrary to the norm—and the Internet changes so fast anyway that any adequate data compilation and analysis would probably be out of date about as soon as it was published, anyway.

Ergo, why I don't fret over it. (It helps to be Christian who believes God's the one who causes things to fall into place or not. Things always end up so much better when I'm relying on Him rather than on myself.)

Speaking of Christian fantasy writers, did you know Robin McKinley converted to Christianity? I just poked in her blog this week and found out because the post I read mentioned her recent conversion, which led me to track down the post wherein she actually talks about it.

What do you think of discoverability and its Catch-22? Do you think active marketing a necessity for the average person to be discovered?


Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Writing Techniques, Motivation, and Context

Dialogue, setting, action, POV internals (motivations, thoughts, feelings, internal reactions, etc.), and character externals (body language, tone of voice, scent, external reactions, etc.)—all provide context to the reader. That context and how you use it will affect the resulting story.

Now, it's possible to skew a story in one direction or another. It's possible to write an all-dialogue story, for example, or all-setting and action, no internalization. But any such story will be missing part of the context, so it'll rely on the reader to supply the missing context.

For the readers who follow what the author intends, such an intentionally incomplete story can be powerful. But… specific actions don't necessarily indicate particular emotions. Particular situations also don't necessarily result in particular emotive responses.

Different people react differently in the same situation, or have different expressions of the same emotions. When I'm confused, my tone automatically gets sharp (unintentionally so). Someone else, for example, might get quiet and puzzle over it or might talk loudly over anyone who tries to explain.

So when authors omit some aspect of the context, they do so at the expense of the readers who either lack that context or who apply a different context.

Case in point: Book #2 in the Kate Daniels series (Magic Burns) has a particular scene from the first person narrator's perspective that they redid as a side release from the MMC's perspective, which gave another view. Turns out that the way the narrator acts when frustrated and about to cry is how I act when annoyed and holding back my temper, so I completely misread the mood of that scene when I read the novel (which made things a bit confusing)—and that was book 2 in the series, so I already had some pre-existing knowledge of the character. That knowledge was just insufficient to suffice as emotional telepathy to catch the character's emotions.

Now, every style will lose readers.

So the author needs to focus on "What fits my story?" and to go from there. Some readers accept everything that works for them. Some insist that some particular balance (or lack thereof) is the definition of "good writing"—and then the definition of "What is balance?" can depend on the reader.

But… there are limitations in that.

You can't just have all the characters say their motives outright, for example. First, more than half of communication is non-verbal. (Some estimates say it's 80%.)

Second, characters will have intentions, motivations, speech, and actions, which might not all line up. ("Oh, I shouldn't eat that cake" [speech], as your hand reaches for it [action], though you don't intend to [intention] and you're trying to lose weight [motivation].) Characters will have thoughts and reactions, internal and external, to what's around them and what they're thinking.

Third, some characters will lie, in speech or body language, and different characters will have different reactions to the same emotions, actions, situations, etc.

Fourth, narrators have five senses plus preconceptions, through which they perceive the world, which influences how things are conveyed. What actually happens does not necessarily equal what the narrator interprets, and if the author phrases such events properly, the reader will be able to pick up on such disconnects, if they're so inclined.

Example: If you've read A Fistful of Fire (AFoF) and A Fistful of Earth (AFoE)—both of which can be found on Wattpad—you know that Lallie as seen by Evonalé isn't the same as Lallie as seen by herself. If you read AFoF after having read AFoE, you might notice some things in Lallie's behavior that Evonalé doesn't understand the significance of. (For example, Lallie's major life-changing event, from which she's still suffering in AFoE, happened shortly before one scene in AFoF, which shows in how Lallie acts in that scene and in following ones.)

Those things can all be used to great effect without a drop of dialogue. But skewing something too much in any one direction—too much dialogue, too much internal thought, too much description, too much scent—will weaken your writing, unless that skewing particularly fits a particular situation/character/narrator/story.

For example, a musician narrator might pay more attention to sound than a seamstress narrator, who might pay attention to clothing—cuts, fabrics, colors, fit, etc. Ernest Hemingway is known for dialogue-heavy stories, which his fans love and find incredibly powerful, but others find confusing.

The key is to keep your goals in mind, as well as the limitations of what you're doing. The POV, tone, style, and intended audience will all affect the resultant proportion of dialogue to internalization, of setting to action. (Note that most conventional POVs in modern writing require the reader to be able to follow the narrator's thought processes—you can actually get away with a narrator who does the stupidest or cruellest things, as long as you can get the reader to understand the character's perspective, even if they disagree with it.)

If you write good dialogue, you can sometimes omit speech tags because the reader will be able to recognize who's speaking and will know the character well enough to know their mood. But even in that case, the dialogue and setting aren't what set the emotion—the reader's prior understanding of the character(s) is. I found Franny Billingsley's Chime a fantastic example of that, though the novel is probably best appreciated by fans of Robin McKinley.

But if you attempt some of those techniques like an all-dialogue story, and a beta reader comments, "Um, I have no clue in which tone of voice this was said," that is true for the reader. You might not see how it could be said in any way other than the one you intend—but, obviously, it can, so your options are to adjust it to make the mood clear, or to check with another reader to see if that the commenter was just outside your intended readership.

Anything can be said in any tone of voice or intention. Even something like "That dress does make you look fat" could be said cruelly, thoughtfully, absentmindedly, helpfully, etc.

Action and dialogue tags are tools, just as dialogue and setting are themselves tools. Each tool performs its own tasks, and each tool can be used, overused, or misused/abused. You can sometimes get by using one tool to substitute for another—but again, it's not the same.

To demonstrate, here's an all-dialogue situation:

"I said, I'm hungry."

"Just a minute."

"Not a minute. Now."

"I need to finish this e-mail in the next ten minutes. After that, I'll—"


The complaining party could be whining or threatening. The other party could be annoyed or scared. Speech doesn't tell you. Setting wouldn't, either. Action might help, but people act differently in the same situations, so it wouldn't be certain. An author could use those tools to convey emotion, but then the writing would only make sense to people who react the selfsame way in those moods. You'd lose readers who respond differently.

See, when you don't give the motivations (or other details), the reader makes assumptions, when they can. (Sometimes, they're just bewildered.) But a reader who makes assumptions is fine with your story only if those assumptions fit. If those reader-assigned motivations/emotions/etc. end up not fitting as the story continues, you'll lose many of those readers, because your characters are seeming inconsistent, even though they may actually only be misinterpreted.

Now, let's add a bit of action (which puts us into Sylvia's POV):

He tapped her on the shoulder. "I said, I'm hungry."

She pursed her lips and kept typing. "Just a minute."

His scowl reflected in her too-old monitor. "Not a minute. Now."

She frowned. "I need to finish this e-mail in the next ten minutes. After that, I'll—"

He yanked the arm of her rolling office chair. "Now!"

That gives a little more of the situation—he's probably angry; she's probably annoyed or at least isn't acting as if she feels threatened.

Now, let's try again, defining the characters a bit more—and adding some motivations.

Her eight-year-old son tapped her on the shoulder. "I said, I'm hungry."

The doctor'd told Mick to stop going on tiptoe, if he ever wanted his toes to stop breaking—though the boy would break them against the tub, when he wanted sympathy. Sylvia pursed her lips and kept typing. "Just a minute."

Mick's scowl reflected in her too-old monitor. "Not a minute. Now."

She frowned, managing not to shiver, not to let him know he was getting to her. "I need to finish this e-mail in the next ten minutes. After that, I'll—"

He yanked the arm of her rolling office chair. "Now!"

Or how about this?

Joe tapped her on the shoulder. "I said, I'm hungry."

Cy pursed her lips and kept typing, wishing her boyfriend could make his own lunch, for once. "Just a minute."

Joe's scowl reflected in her too-old monitor. "Not a minute. Now."

She frowned, tired of his attitude. He was one tantrum from being kicked to the curb, and she wasn't about to warn him. "I need to finish this e-mail in the next ten minutes. After that, I'll—"

He yanked the arm of her rolling office chair. "Now!"

The dialogue and action are completely the same, but for who the characters are to each other. The major difference? The motivation.

As a line editor, I sometimes have clients who attempt to rely entirely on dialogue and setting and therefore are entirely unclear about emotions, motivations, intentions, etc. that the POV would know and the reader should therefore understand.

Now, I am female. I've noticed, as an editor, that while both male and female authors can have trouble getting motivation on the page, females are more likely to equate thoughts or emotions with motivation, and males are more likely to equate action or setting with motivation. That internal/external distinction actually fits some psychology delineations.

As an author, I tend to write very "close" first person, which has interesting effects with narrators like the aforementioned Evonalé and Lallie. Both of them could be in the selfsame situation and pull completely different details and tones out of it. (Someday, I may write an Aleyi short story with multiple narrators that shows an event from different points of view.)

I mention that to point out that there's an extent to which all techniques are ambiguous. Some are just more so than others—and the extent to which each one is ambiguous depends on what you're going for.

Generally speaking, authors of genre novels want a balance among the different features of a scene, to provide sufficent context to be comprehended by as wide an audience as possible. That balance may look different between two different authors, and it may even look different between two different stories by the same author.

That's fine.

But the various ways to balance motivation and the other things = techniques, not definitions of "good writing". If you're going to skew that balance one way or another, at least be aware of the context you're sacrificing to do so.

What are your thoughts on motivation and the (in)ability of dialogue and action to convey it?


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Something Fun Happened Yesterday Morning…

So I've been poking in various Scrivener projects lately, one being where I keep the AMaC short stories—finished, in progress, and planned. Which reminded me that I never did update the covers for "Driven by the Deadline" and "Associated Accidents", and I had a sequel to the latter that was around 2/3 written. I realized how the climactic scene was going to play out (…politics? really?…) and jotted a note…

Well, yesterday morning, I thought, Yanno, let's just open this and see how far I get into drafting it.

By lunchtime that day, I had the rest of the story drafted—that's over 1.4k words—new covers for the aforementioned stories, and cover for the new story, which was drafted and titled, waiting for some time to pass for the edit read-through. (And did I mention that the cover-making included finding the images for two of the three, which came out of royalty-free stock images I've downloaded to my computer. Here's to hoping that I don't discover any oddities in the licensure once comes out from maintenance, because I don't want to have to find new images…)

Because, see, I really like what I came up with for the new story. I found an image that, well, fit okay. But it would work better with some gang paint on one of the walls… so I painted it. And used the perspective tool (probably incorrectly). Then put it all through the "painting" filter in the G'MIC plug-in in Gimp, which ultimately makes it all look as if it belongs together, to my admittedly amateur eye.

*If anyone's noticing that I'm a bit…hyper, I'm typing this up Wednesday evening. I had a chocolate hazelnut smoothie this evening (my first attempt to sweeten something with dates) and taste-tested some sugar-containing chia pudding (which I'm attempting to make with some white chia flour rather than the seeds I usually use).

Anyway, this† is the kind of thing that makes more sense if you actually, you know, see what I'm talking about. (†The story cover, not the smoothie or pudding. Though pictures would be nice for those foods, too, when I share my recipes. Someday, I'll have a camera…)

So… Here's the image I started with (which will be updated with due credit to the photographer once the stock site's back up and I can actually find out who the photographer is):

[update 8/9/13: The photographer is Roger Kirby (theswedish) on]

And here's what I produced from it:

See what I added? ^_^ *does happy dance*

Is it perfect? No. But it's progress. I may never be a professional cover designer, but making my own is educational and relaxing. (For me, I admit; maybe not for you.)

It's a lot better than my first cover for "Driven by the Deadline" or "Romeo & Jillian", that's for sure.

Another fun happening yesterday: my order came in from, a website my mother and I found that sells all sorts of flours, nuts, (dried) fruit, candies…by the pound. At better prices than you find a lot of places. (Things like chia are still pricy, but it's more like $12 per pound rather than $30 per pound.)

We've each placed our first orders—she got several gluten-free flours, while I got a bunch of dried fruit and nuts for smoothies. All their products have ingredient lists and "made in a facility with" warnings, and items are clearly marked when gluten-free (and when kosher and I think there's something else that gets marked, but I don't remember now). And a cool thing? My mother and I each got a sample bag of something else with our orders, and the sample bag? Was of something gluten-free, so we're assuming they actually paid attention and noticed that everything we ordered came from the site "gluten-free" section.

I made coconut milk for the first time, (I made the aforementioned chocolate-hazelnut smoothie), and I soaked some hazelnuts in readiness to make some hazelnut milk. (And I might have all the ingredients I need to make a protein bar recipe I've been wanting to try for months… I have to double-check how much hemp hearts I have. I probably need more of those, but I get those from Mountain Rose Herb.)

Have you done anything fun lately that you'd like to share?


Thursday, August 1, 2013

Plagiarism and Publishing

I've probably mentioned this before somewhere, but some things have happened lately that have made it come under discussion again: Plagiarism.

There are many types of plagiarism, but what's been getting chattered about lately is the type wherein folks steal chunks from different works, maybe paraphrase them, then put the results up for sale. (The collection method is called "content scraping", and the "convert to paraphrase" step is optional. There is a form of "content scraping" that isn't plagiarism, but the ethics of it are still questionable.)

Yes, even paraphrasing can result in plagiarism. See, there are three main ways to plagiarize:

  1. Quote directly from a source in an improper manner, in violation of "fair use" (don't cite it, use too much, use it in an inappropriate setting, etc.)
  2. Paraphrase a single source directly in an improper manner, in violation of "fair use" (don't cite it, use too much, use it in an inappropriate setting, etc.)
  3. Use the source in such a manner that "fair use" does not apply (use exclusive information from a source without citing it, resell it without proper authorization, illegally repackage it without proper authorization, illegally redistribute it without proper authorization, etc.)

The definitions of what qualifies as "fair use" and "an improper manner" differs depending on if you're talking about novels, poetry, song lyrics, etc. For example, you can quote a favorite snippet from a novel—but from a song? Legal precedent is far more constricting*. The "without proper authorization" is a pertinent detail, because there's "PLR" (mainly in non-fiction) and some forms of the "creative commons" licenses that might allow such redistribution, repackaging, and/or resale.

*I am not a lawyer. This isn't legal advice. It's just one layman's understanding of what she's read. If you want to know if "fair use" applies to your situation, ask the appropriate type of attorney for your question.

On one hand, I know that a lot of schools somehow expect students to understand what plagiarism is without ever teaching them. (I changed schools pretty much every year, throughout my education. I also tutor and tend to get in education method discussions with professional teachers.)

So I, personally, have had a lot of exposure to folks uneducated or improperly educated about plagiarism. There have been several cases wherein a person gets a book deal—or an article assignment, or lauded by teachers, etc.—only for people to find out later that the item is plagiarized in some fashion. I've also had a (…few…) cases wherein someone stole an article I wrote and assumed it was okay because, well, it was online, and "Everyone knows online content is free." (That's incorrect, for the record—both in the "everyone knows" and the "online content is free" sense.)

So it's theoretically possible that some folks might do that paraphrase-and-resell form of plagiarism not realizing it's plagiarism and in violation of others' copyrights.

In fact, I'm sure somebody somewhere has done it on accident.

In this case, though, the "author" had several other layers involved (and, from what I've read, actually lifted the stories from—so the author plagiarized first, then the second person plagiarized the plagiarist). So I think it likely that the person knew precisely what he was doing.

So this is getting screen time on writers' blogs and forums, and a lot of people are freaking out or stunned in disbelief or shocked…

But, see, I've been seeing this same sort of thing happen for…as long as I've been on the Internet. Folks would content scrape articles or infoproducts, resell them on Clickbank or personal websites or other such websites. Folks would nab stories from sites like or and repost them on the same site, on similar sites, on vendor sites, on personal sites…

Something a lot of folks don't realize? It's been possible to easily sell e-books online for a good decade. The problem was drawing the audience, since the sites involved necessarily catered to specific niches that, yanno, knew what e-books and web stories even were and what to do with them.

The difference is that a broader spectrum of people are now aware of it.

And don't be mistaken—Amazon is keeping its eye out. There's only so much it can catch, though, and then it also has to be careful because sometimes folks have non-exclusive contracts that say two or six different people can publish the same thing. I've gotten "Hey, is this really yours?"** letters from Amazon for duplicate content.

**Okay, so that wasn't quite how it was phrased, but that was the implication.

The fact is, plagiarism happens.

When you're aware of it, you can act on it, but fretting over it will only hurt you. It's bad for your health and creativity.

Jami Gold's article on plagiarism has some good tips to minimize risk if you're worried about it, but… Personally? I'm unconvinced that it's worth worrying about. Register your copyrights and set up some Google Alerts. If you keep writing and publishing and build a fanbase, then readers will notice and tell you when you've been plagiarized.

That's how all the major plagiarism cases (that I can think of) have been caught, after all: a reader noticing and responding indignantly.

Not that I expect readers to watch out for plagiarism—I don't. I don't expect readers to point out typos they notice in my stories, either.

But…some readers will notice those things. If you're traditionally published, your hands are usually tied by your contract, whereas with self-publishing, you can act on it—whether it's plagiarism or typos. As long as a writer does their part to avoid either, trusting readers isn't lazy.

Now, if a writer expects readers to find plagiarists, to tell them about typos, to edit their book… That's another story entirely. (Sadly, that does happen, too.)

But no matter the precautions you take, if you publish your writing, you will likely be plagiarized—somewhere, someday. The plagiarism might be intentional, but it can also be accidental (so it's best to react politely, because the intentional ones will ignore you anyway). If it's worth reading, it's worth stealing.

So take a deep breath and be wary…but pick your battles. ^_^

Did you know you could plagiarize with paraphrases? What do you think of my attitude toward plagiarism? What's your attitude about accidental plagiarists vs. intentional ones?


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