Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Scraping--A Huge Black Eye For Self-publishing?

According to Diana Peterfreund in An Epidemic of Plagiarism in the Indie World, "scraping" is the act of copying, pasting, and publishing. And there appears to be a lot of it going on in self-publishing. I enjoy learning new things, so I'm set for today. For a couple of days, probably.

As Peterfreund points out in her well-documented post, the people who are doing this are not writers. "This is an organized, promoted attempt by unscrupulous moneymakers to game the self-publishing system and make some quick cash. They are formatting works they find online and making money off them, with little or no oversight by the publishing platforms (like Amazon/Kindle) and just as little ability for wronged parties to get justice." But writers are affected, especially self-published writers, and not just those whose work ends up being scraped. (That can happen to traditional writers, too.)

Self-Publishing's Reputation

Though the people who are doing this are not writers, they are self-publishing what they steal as if they were. If word of this gets out to the reading public, how will readers be able to tell which self-published books are original work and which are stolen? Jaded folk, and the scammers who are scraping others' writing, may believe the reading public won't care so long as it ends up with an enjoyable reading experience. How enjoyable the reading experience will be will probably depend on what kinds of standards the scrapers set for themselves (Ha-Ha) and whether or not readers start recognizing favorite authors' work in pirated eBooks.

Self-publishing authors have been working for years to overcome the reputation for poor quality work due to the rush to publish with little or no editing. Then there was last year's issue with self-published writers buying Amazon reviews. And now pseudo-self-publishers are plagiarizing real self-publishers. It's not often we hear something good about self-publishing.

More Doors Slamming For Self-Published Authors' Marketing Opportunities?


Peterfreund refers to a blogging issue involving Me, My Shelf & I. Liz covered this at Tea Cozy just a few days ago. This was another plagiarism situation. This time Amber at Me, My Shelf & I had unknowingly reviewed a plagiarized self-published book. Ugliness followed.

Self-published authors already have difficulty getting reviewed and getting blog reviews. Personally, I have visited several hundred blogs this past year, researching possibilities for coverage of Saving the Planet & Stuff. Of the ones I visited, I have only approached around 50. From those 50 I have ended up with 6 blogs hosting me or reviewing, with 2 more guest posts coming up. Of those 8 positive blogger responses, 2 came from people I either already knew through blogging, myself, or had a connection with through the Kidlitosphere listserv.

A large percentage of litbloggers already have a no self-published books policy due either to self-publishing's reputation for poor quality product, mentioned above, or concerns that they will be overwhelmed with requests from the enormous self-published community. Now blogs like Me, My Shelf & I, which do make an effort to support self-publishing, have to be concerned about whether or not the authors approaching them really are authors or simply scrapers. How can the bloggers know? And, if they end up accidentally reviewing a plagiarized work or hosting a plagiarist, what is it going to mean for them? How many more more litblogs are going to include "No self-published books" in their review policies as a result of this?

Once again, scrapers are not writers. Let's see what kind of impact they're going to have on people who are.

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