Tuesday, February 26, 2019

My thoughts on #CopyPasteCris as a reader

For those of you who don't know, #CopyPasteCris is the hashtag for a scandal that erupted in the book world in the last week. Brazilian author Cristiane Serruya was caught plagiarizing from various well-known authors.

Apparently, her method was to take a mix of paragraphs from various books and hand them over to ghostwriters to cobble together into a cohesive story. Then she'd put the results out for sale. It was a successful scam; she was able to submit at least one book for a RITA award.

Perceptive readers noticed the identical paragraphs - she even copied a recipe from one book - and alerted the authors, most of them very well-known in the romance world. First was Courtney Milan, herself a lawyer who once worked as a Supreme Court clerk, who tweeted out to 'name and shame' the copyist. Evidence seems to indicate, despite Ms. Serruya's protests, that she was very aware of the scam. To add insult to injury, she stiffed her ghostwriters.

As a reader, I find this all very disappointing. My personal belief is that an author shouldn't use a ghostwriter unless for a professional paper or maybe for celebrity autobiographies. When I pick up a book, I expect the author to have written it out of their own experiences and imagination. 

Yes, some plots are tropes, especially in the romance world, but it isn't that hard to put one's own spin on the story. I'm trying to keep my reader hat firmly on my head here, but I can't imagine why someone would go this route. I guess it's part of the movement to put as many books out as possible to make more money, but it seems alien to me. I read a lot and have my favorite authors, most of whom I pre-order sometimes far in advance. I wait anxiously for the next book and I'm delighted when I wake up to find my long-desired read sitting on my Kindle. 

Even then I'll sometimes wait a few days before delving into my new book, not wanting to lose that sense of anticipation. As A.A. Milne says in Winnie-the-Pooh:
“Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honey was a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.

It's too bad the urge to push books out quickly led this author down the plagiarism path. It is unnecessary, in my opinion, and wrong for both the readers and authors impacted. 

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